Volunteer Testimonials and Post - Volunteering Resources
"Knowing about the hands of the person behind the things we buy is so important and I loved that Huaywasi felt the same way. As the Fashion Design and Business Development Intern I was able to directly work with Huaywasi's artisan partners on designs, but I was also able to gain professional experience with marketing, content planning, and publishing my writing for blog posts."
Sarah - Huaywasi Intern - March 2019
“The perfect combination of family, friends and co-workers, Huaycan can be a little overwhelming at first glance, but it is certainly a neighborhood that you can fall in love with easily. Its people, its community, the shops in the street ... everything widens your soul and teaches you something new.”
Irene - Kids Program Manager - Aug 2017 - Aug 2018
I volunteered with LLI for 7 months in 2014 and came away from my time there with a lifetime of amazing memories, great friends, and the satisfaction that I made a positive impact teaching kids valuable knowledge that will help them going forward. The teaching experience there is unlike many others in that you have the opportunity to not only be a teacher to the kids but also to be a part of their daily lives outside of the classroom. I would routinely find myself playing games of soccer in the street with my students, at their houses for birthday parties, even taking a 10 year old student to the amusement park (which as a side note, was one of my favorite experiences there, just seeing the smile not leave his face the entire day, running from ride to ride)."
Javier - Teacher - Aug 2014
After an experience such as volunteering with LLI in Huaycan, especially for a prolonged time, there can be many obstacles re-entering one’s community. Cultural, socioeconomic and linguistic differences can present themselves in striking, or sometimes subtle ways. Communicating your experience, as well as processing it, can be challenging. We don’t believe there is one form of reverse culture shock, nor do we believe that there is one recipe to “cure” it, but we will offer a few thoughts below:
Giving yourself space, time, and means to process: Invariably, you have likely had a distinct experience in Peru filled with a variety of moments (positive, challenging, thought-provoking). It can be easy to forge into the next steps of life. Yet, what is the best way for you to process the experience? Some volunteers journal, others make art projects or collages from their trips.
Moreover, how will you communicate your experience to others? This can always be tricky to navigate as some people will be genuinely interested in your experience while others will pretend it never happened (and everything in between). You might get some: “So how was Peru?” or “What was your favorite part?” and similar questions that can be hard to answer. It may be good to have an “elevator speech” for the quicker responses, but also, be willing to sit down and go into depth with the people who truly want to hear about the experience. Finally, have empathy for the question askers. It can sometimes be really challenging to know what questions to ask someone who has undertaken such an experience. Know that people in your life may be truly curious about your experience, but not be able to articulate it.
Remember your CASA Training!: Some people may see you as an ambassador of Lima/Peru/Latin America. (“What’s Peru like?”, “Is it safe?” ect). Be careful how you navigate this. Think about what forms of cultural appropriation can arise when non-Peruvians claim to be “experts” on places they have spent minimal time in - speaking to things they don’t truly know about. Be cautious about the danger of a single story or single experience and don’t let that define Peru or Peruvian people. With this in mind, think of ways you can present the complexity of Peru in a way that informs friends or family members or transcends stereotypes. In essence, you have an important role as the traveler in this way.
Staying connected and turning your curiosity to your immediate surroundings: Another challenge of reintegration can be the shift away from Peru and back to your home. How will you choose to stay connected with aspects of LLI/Peru that you have an affinity for? Some options may include finding meetup groups that host cultural or linguistic events. Want to keep up with your Spanish? Conversation Exchange can be a great way to meet people from Peru and other places and exchange language practices for free. Looking for news sources? Some options include El Comercio one of the major Peruvian newspapers (and one of the oldest publications in the world in the Spanish language!), Radio Ambulante, and other podcasts.
Finally, we like to think that a primary characteristic in a volunteer, traveler or human beings in general, is curiosity. To ask the whys of the world we live in. Hopefully, Huaycán and Peru generated a lot of questions for you. We hope that you can take that curiosity back home, that you can look at your own surroundings with a new set of curious eyes.