Alumni Spotlight: Julia Strohkirch

I´m Julia from Germany. My dream was to go to Peru after finishing the school. I graduated in 2017 and worked in a German school for a voluntary social year. After that, I made my dream came true and traveled to Peru. I stayedina hostfamily for two month and had the best time of my life. In Cusco I worked in three different projects and made lots of great experiences which changd my way of life.

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Why did you choose this program?

I choose this program because I wanted to get known to the Peruvian life. In this program, I got the possibility to live in a host family and become acquainted to the typical live.

I will study social work, so it was a good decision for me to work with disabled to gain experience in that part of work. And now I really love this work.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

I could ask everything to my organization, and when my time in Peru came nearer, they gave me the contacts of my in-country coordinator. I had to organize the flight on my own. But I got an insurance from the organization.

During my time, I could ask everything to my coordinator, ask him for help by booking trips and he also showed me some places in the city or took me to events, for example on Halloween. Now he became a good friend to me.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

First, I was a little scared about the language, because my Spanish was bad. Now I think it's necessary to have some basics in Spanish for talking to the disabled - they just speak Spanish. After some time, the language skills are getting better.

For me it was the best decision of my life to went to Peru. I would do it anytime again. So if you get the possibility to go overseas, you should do it.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

Normally, they have work times of about four hours per day for the volunteers. But i didn't care about that. I had my breakfast at 7.45 am and spent some time at home with my coordinator, before I went to work.

The bus drive to work was just about 15 minutes. I started working at 10 am. From 10 to 12 the children had something like school. We painted, buil towers of bricks, made puzzles and so on. They had a little break and we moved on with school.

At 1.30pm was lunch. I ate together with the disabled. Then I had a break of about 30 minutes, sometimes shorter, when one of the disabled came to me earlier. In the afternoon, they had another two hours of school and we danced a lot. I went home between 4pm and 5.30pm.

It's also no problem to made a day of, when you plan an excursion. I did it once and worked a day on the weekend too. They're really lucky, if someone likes to help on the weekend.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

First, I was a little scared about the language. My Spanish was really bad and my English also wasn't perfect. But I lived in a host family with my coordinator and an American girl, so I was supposed to speak English. With my host mother, at work and later with my coordinator I Spoke Spanish too. So I got better in both languages.

What did you like the most in the program?

I want to tell you about my best experience.

The place I worked with the disabled, my coordinator took me the first day. When he left me there, I first thougt, "don't let me alone here". It was my first experience with disabled and it was a little weird, because all the young people there have different kinds of disabilities and some of them are a little strange. But I had so much fun at work and I smiled and laughed a lot with them. They gave me their joy of life and I was sad to leave.

At my last day, me and my coordinator went to the orphange for a last time and he said he would get crazy there, but I'm so nice to them. I found my profession there and hope to come back one day.