How Volunteering in Peru Changed My Life
Anna Pearlman from the United States graduated from college but she had no idea what direction to take post-graduation. Instead of applying for full time employment straight away, she decided she wanted to take time out and travel overseas to do something rewarding.
Anna came across an opportunity to volunteer and teach English in Lima, Peru - a country she knew very little about (aside from Machu Picchu), and a place she never thought she would have a chance to visit.
Here Anna shares her experience of how the trip changed her life forever.
Getting Accepted to Teach in Peru
This past summer, I had the opportunity to teach English at a school in Pachacutec, an impoverished district of Lima. I got to teach a class of four and five-year-olds basic English, basic sanitation and healthy eating (within their means), as well as help with necessary school maintenance.
I had the chance to give these kids a better foundation for their lives, but it was me that learned the most through their community. I continually learned how hard families work to provide basic, everyday necessities for each other, yet I have never met a happier, more grateful people. Every morning on my bus ride into town, I passed positive sayings on district walls that showed the strength and resilience of a city on the rise. Children greeted me with hugs and kisses, and every afternoon their guardians for the efforts I was providing for their young ones thanked me.
You Learn So Much
I came to teach, but I ended up learning more than I ever could imagine. My weekends were spent traveling, and through my adventures, I continued to learn Peruvian culture. I got to know about the ancient Incan civilization while trekking Machu Picchu. I got to see how the indigenous people of Peru, Quechuans, work and live while hiking to Rainbow Mountain. I even stumbled into a Sun God Festival, a vibrant communal celebration of traditional song and dance to an ancient god during the summer solstice.
Peru Was Like My Second Home
I went to Lima not knowing what to expect for the adventure I had ahead, though as soon as I stepped off the plane, I felt strangely at ease - as if this journey was what I was meant to be doing. The feeling of comfort was something that stayed over the course of two months, and it was easy to feel like I was at home after only two days. The other volunteers and local staff quickly turned into lifelong friends and a family away from home.
Volunteering Changes You
No matter where you choose to go, volunteering in another country will undoubtedly change your life and allow you to grow as a person. After spending two months in Peru, I can confidently say I had my expectations exceeded at every turn. Volunteering with IVHQ enabled me to meet like-minded people, gave me a greater awareness of culture and living in another country, and has allowed me to make a difference. It has even given me direction post-graduation!
If ever you find yourself at a crossroads or are hoping to make a difference, volunteering abroad is the perfect opportunity. Say yes to helping the community at large and ultimately change your life for the better.
By Anna Pearlman
Check our more of Anna's pictures on Instagram.