COVID-19 Information and Updates


May 2022

To the PiLA Community:

As we have shared with our partners and program alumni, Princeton in Latin America will reduce operations for a temporary period beginning this summer while pandemic-related health and safety concerns in parts of Latin America and the Caribbean persist. There will not be a 2022-2023 PiLA fellowship program or a regular fall 2022 application cycle. The organization will maintain its Board of Directors and its registered business address at Princeton University and will monitor communication to the institutional email address at While PiLA is in a phase of reduced activity, we encourage you to follow our partner organizations to see their updates as they recover from the pandemic’s disruptions and continue to create meaningful impact and support community-driven initiatives across the region.

PiLAs Board of Directors remains fully committed to the organizations long-term future and to restarting an in-person placement program as soon as health and safety conditions permit. The Board looks forward to sharing updates in late 2022 regarding potential relaunch plans for a 2023-2024 program cycle and to working with PiLA’s community of over 400 Fellow alumni, longstanding and new partners, and the Princeton University and greater university fellowship communities to launch the next chapter in PiLA’s journey.




February 2022

We’d like to extend all our best wishes for a happy new year to the entire PiLA community. After evaluating different paths for the year ahead, given new challenges brought by the omicron variant of COVID-19 and related effects on health, safety, and travel concerns, it is with great regret that we share that PiLA has decided to cancel our 2022-2023 program and all related placement processes. As we have shared with our deferred finalists as well as our partner organizations in Latin America, at this point we believe it is unlikely that we would be able to approve in-country placements later this year, and that with ongoing uncertainties the only option we can commit to at this point is to cancel our program and encourage deferred finalists to pursue other opportunities. The stress on health systems across Latin America and the Caribbean (let alone much of the world) as well as the continued lower rates of vaccination in some regions where we have traditionally offered a significant percentage of our placements appear likely to remain ongoing challenges through 2022. We have also been concerned by travel restrictions that have come up with little warning in parts of the world for travelers both leaving and returning to the U.S., and the implications that potential future restrictions could have for health challenges and visa requirements. Finally, as a very small nonprofit organization, we are limited by the capacity constraints on our traditional model of serving many different partners in many different places.

We know this outcome is a disappointing one, and we sincerely hope that 2022 will bring other fulfilling options for our deferred finalists’ careers and personal lives, and that they'll find other ways to connect with Latin America and the Caribbean. We thank our finalists for their understanding and their ongoing commitment to service through these challenging times, and we thank our partner organizations for their patience, for their continued interest in PiLA and in working with our Fellows again in the future, and for all that they do in each of their communities.

The PiLA Team




August 2021

As colleges and universities prepare for the return to campus for a new academic year, we are sharing an important update regarding our application and placement cycles. PiLA will NOT hold a standard application cycle this fall and instead will focus on working with recent deferred finalists that remain interested and available to engage in our placement process, with the goal that as many deferred finalists as possible are matched with potential partners and will be able to interview (virtually) for tentative placements for 2022-2023. If, after working with finalists deferred from the Spring 2021 and Spring 2020 finalist pools, we determine that we will still need new applicants to fill available placements, it is possible we will open an abbreviated application cycle in early 2022. Any updates concerning an off-cycle application process, if occurring, will be posted on our website in early 2022.

As we shared with finalists and partners earlier this year, PiLA decided to defer 2021-2022 placements and all related processes (matching, partner interviews, etc.) for one year, to aim to have new placements begin in Summer 2022. The few exceptions to this deferral are a small group of active remote Fellows with short-term placements. By next summer we hope to return to an in-person program cohort, provided that the pandemic is sufficiently contained to allow us to be confident in the safety and well-being of all new Fellows.

We are sorry to communicate what must be a disappointing update for those who were looking forward to applying this fall, and we ourselves are disappointed to not be able to welcome new applicants and share opportunities to serve our valued partner organizations with more candidates newly eligible to apply for our and other post-graduate programs. However, we remind anyone interested in pursuing a PiLA opportunity that we accept applicants up to 4 years post-graduation, and we hope you will consider applying in the future. We did not want to close the possibility of serving in a PiLA placement to applicants already selected as finalists that have remained interested in supporting PiLA partners through the pandemic’s ongoing uncertainties and challenging news of program modifications and deferrals. For those deferred finalists, we will be reaching out to you later in 2021 to check in and confirm your interest in being considered for upcoming placement matches. Just as in "normal" cycles prior to the pandemic, finalist status and matching with potential PiLA partners do not guarantee a PiLA placement and the selection decision is ultimately made by our partners.

As we’ve expressed time and again these past 18 months, we extend our sincere gratitude to all members of the PiLA community for your patience, your understanding, and your continued support.

The PiLA Team




March 2021

Due to continued concerns about COVID-19 and its effects across Latin America, PiLA has decided to defer 2021-2022 placements in the region and all related processes (including matching and partner interviews) for one year, to plan to begin the next cycle of new placements in Summer 2022. We have immediately communicated this update to active partners and program finalists for the 2021-2022 cycle.

With the pandemic’s continued uncertainties for travel, national and local restrictions and curfews, compromised ability to procure visas, and the timeline for vaccine accessibility in Latin America, we do not feel confident that we would be able to approve in-country placements by this summer or fall or even early 2022. Back in July 2020 when we made the decision to move ahead with a fall application season for 2021-2022 placements, we had hoped conditions would have improved by now, but are still seeing many of the same challenges as well as a similarly cautious approach among peer programs and other international work travel programs. With a small staff, we are also limited in our capacity to provide support and guidance for participants and monitor constantly changing conditions and policies in different countries.

Along with deferring placements, we have also deferred our group of finalists, and we hope that many will continue to envision a PiLA placement in their future and will be able to re-enter the matching process next spring and interview with our partner organizations at that time. We regret that we aren’t able to give finalists the opportunity of a traditional PiLA placement this year, but feel that this is the only choice we can commit to when so much remains uncertain. We are, however, considering offering a small remote program beginning this summer to provide some level of continuity and support for partners able to adapt placements for a remote arrangement.

We thank all members of the PiLA community for your understanding, your patience, and your ongoing support for PiLA and our Fellows.

The PiLA Team




August 2020

As friends and followers of PiLA know, we made the decision in March 2020 to suspend the 2019-2020 program and ask Fellows to return home, though a few were able to continue to serve their partner organizations remotely. After a delayed placement period, we are happy to be proceeding with a small group of new PiLA Fellows for the 2020-2021 cycle, all beginning their work remotely. We are planning a standard fall application schedule for the 2021-2022 program, but just as the 2020-2021 PiLA Fellows are starting their placements remotely, it is possible that 2021-2022 placements will be partly remote. The specifics of the 2021-2022 fellowship program will depend on global and regional travel, health, and security conditions next year. No matter the shape and realities of forthcoming PiLA placements, we are confident in our Fellows’ ability to provide valuable support and in our partners’ ability to offer a meaningful service experience as well as opportunities to contribute to social change and to recovery from the economic and public health challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19  pandemic.

The numbers of potential PiLA placements (and finalists for those placements) have not yet been defined, as we and our valued partner organizations are operating under multiple uncertainties. Program selectivity rates may be higher this year than in previous years due to increased demand as well as placement uncertainties. New applicants should understand that now, as in previous years, applying for a PiLA fellowship means applying for the opportunity to be considered for various placements, and not applying for any one position or organization.

Through the pandemic and its challenges, we remain committed to searching for the best fellowship experiences we can offer to the talented young professionals that continue to expand the PiLA family as we move toward twenty years of PiLA placements.

The PiLA Team




June 2020

PiLA continues to regard the health and safety of our Fellows as our foremost responsibility. Due to repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic including ongoing health concerns and travel restrictions in much of Latin American and the Caribbean, PiLA has decided to suspend in-country placements for 2020-2021 but will plan for a resumption, conditions permitting, for 2021-2022.

Though some of our partner organizations have canceled placements, several will be able to accept PiLA Fellows that have the capacity to work remotely from their residences in the US or Canada. A remote fellowship assumes the same professionalism and commitment to excellence and remote Fellows will report periodically and be in communication with the PiLA Team throughout the year as has been expected for the preceding 17 years.

All finalists for 2020-2021 will have the option to defer finalist status to be considered within the applicant pool for placements beginning in summer 2021. We would like to thank our finalists for their patience and understanding and for their commitment to improving lives, living conditions, and the environment in Latin America.

We appreciate the support of our alumni, partners, and friends during this period of global crisis and we look forward to the time when our Fellows can once again be present in Latin America to engage with the communities we value so much.

The PiLA Team





March 23, 2020

Dear PiLA Family:

It is with heavy hearts that the Board of Directors of Princeton in Latin America (PiLA) informs you of its decision to cancel fellowship programming for 2019-2020. Most of our fellows were scheduled to conclude their fellowships in May through August 2020, but, effective March 30, their fellowship programs will conclude, months earlier than we hoped. (See here the message that was sent out to our fellows on March 18 last.) The guidance from public health officials, the US government and governments across Latin America, as well as Princeton University, a source on which we have relied for leadership and as a guidepost in our decision-making, was just too overwhelming for us to continue. The safety and well-being of our fellows has always been PiLA’s number one priority. The uncertainty about our fellows’ ability to continue to serve in their posts amid this developing global health crisis led the Board of Directors to take the unprecedented step of calling each one of them home and cancelling the 2019-2020 program.

The Board continues to communicate on a regular basis, monitoring developments as we consider the viability of placing a new cohort of fellows in the field across Latin America for the next fellowship cycle (2020-2021). We will continue to communicate with our candidates, our partners and the broader PiLA family as we consider this important decision.

It is our sincere hope that PiLA will weather this storm, whether it is a short-term hiatus or a longer pause in our programming. We strive to come out on the other end of this ordeal as a stronger organization, even more committed to the fulfillment of our vision, to “provide young men and women with service experiences in Latin America and the Caribbean that  builds in them the skills, character, and compassion necessary to serve as tomorrow’s global leaders.”

PiLA has provided extraordinary leadership experiences for almost 400 fellows in our nearly 20-year history, many of whom are now on the front lines of this crisis, working in positions of public health. Meghan Prin, Princeton ’06, writes: 

“I worked with PiLA as a medical student, and my summer internship with Child Family Health International in Ecuador was essential to launching my career in global health. Since 2007, I have completed my medical training and am now an Anesthesiologist and ICU doctor. I have spent 3 of the last ten years living and working in Sub-Saharan Africa (Ghana, Malawi) to improve surgical systems in low-resource settings. PiLA helped to stoke the flames of this passion for global health, gave me the field experience necessary to compete for grants, and opened up my eyes to the realities of healthcare worldwide. It was an honor to work with you all!”

That is just one example, representative of the hundreds of such stories that can be told of the results of the PiLA program, one for which we have all worked so hard for so many years. In that spirit we reach out to you in our hour of need: whatever support you can provide would be not only welcome but vital, in light of our possibly having to cover a (hopefully temporary) dip in our revenue as a result of some postponement of our normal programming process. Simply go to our website,, and click on “donate,” it only takes a few minutes.

Thank you!

David Atkinson, Chairman of the Board



  1. Princeton University COVID-19/Coronavirus Information Page
  2. Princeton University letter to campus community from President Eisgruber (3-03-20)
  3. CDC Guidance for Student Foreign Travel for Institutions of Higher Education (3-01-20)
  4. U.S. Department of State Coronavirus Alert Page
  5. Global Health Security Index
  6. World Health Organization daily coronavirus situation reports 
  7. article: “Impact of the Coronavirus on Campus and Study Abroad – Information for College Parents” (3-01-20)

PILA Emails to Fellows: