After 3 months here in Perú, a volunteer asked me what it was like to be here for so long and if I was already looking forward to going back to the United States. Of course I want to see my family and friends, and eat a good steak… but I am by no means in a rush to come back. I am already searching for jobs here for next year so that I can return to Trujillo for my gap year; hopefully, next time for about 11 months.
The work here has been difficult at times for several reasons but I think the most relevant adversity that I had to overcome was working between Peruvians and Americans, and trying to bridge the gap of cultural differences. There were times where my volunteers expected punctuality, distanced professionalism, and almost constant supervision as is standard in many American learning environments. Instead, they found a professional environment that was not defined by being on time, but by asking how the volunteer was recovering from their cold from the day before. Instead of a firm handshake, there was a kiss on the cheek and trust enough to allow the volunteers independence in the workplace. Even within the group of Americans, I was working with a group that included ages 18-30, native speakers to absolutely no Spanish experience, and people who ranged from outgoing sorority girls to guys who had perfect grades and had never danced before. In groups of 45 people, it seemed like it would be hard to get to know these people on an individual basis, but there are definitely several volunteers that shone and I made a real connection with.
As far as my interaction with the community and locals goes, the people I have met have been friendly and welcoming. This past weekend, I think every restaurant, bar, and surf shop I visited in my free time knew me and was happy to give my friends and I half price or special dishes; I finally feel as though I am no longer a tourist. The work in the community has been on hold for a week as we change out our volunteer groups to our final and smallest group for the summer. However, we will be starting again this afternoon and I am so excited to go. Just to have these kids remember my name brightens my whole trip. Today, I will be introducing them to our new volunteers and they will begin their work for the month.
This country has left its mark on me in a number of ways even if that includes running to cross streets, expecting prices to be half of what I will encounter in the United States, or wanting to nap in the middle of the day. The people here are always going to be with me as I carry memories of them with me everywhere. As I close these blog posts, I would like to thank Vive Peru, and its director Rachel Jurkowski Ganoza for all of her support and faith in me. The program has a Facebook that I encourage everybody to check out to stay informed, to donate, or to apply to attend our program next summer. Please tell your friends and family members because this program runs on limited staff and funds and trips like mine are only possible through a strong community of supporters. I will also continue as a Campus Coordinator this year at Boston College so any inquiries about the program can be sent directly to my email at email@example.com. As well, thank you to Boston College and this grant for making this trip possible for me.