Alumni Spotlight: Marlene Egelseder

After her graduation at university, Marlene decided to go abroad, volunteer for a social project and exploring a new country including all the culture and traditions Peru has to offer.

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Why did you choose this program?

I chose HOOP because I already knew a lot of people working here as volunteers and I got talked to them in person about their experience. I knew that the work this organization does is meaningful and has a huge impact on the community of Flora Tristan in Arequipa. I strongly believe that education is the key to help those people breaking the cycle of poverty.

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

At the beginning, we got a thorough training about how to teach english and adress problems in classroom or to do the lesson plannings. The latter I had to organize on my own which was great because I had a lot of flexibility in how to plan the class and get creative with that.

Further the organization helped me find an accommodation in advance which was great, I stayed at a nice and welcoming Peruvian host family.

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

Bring a lot of motivation and patience with the kids and you will in return get a lot of love, gratefulness and the best experience of your life. The kids will grow on you so fast and you will have a hard time leaving them for sure. Going abroad means stepping out of your comfort zone, which is frightening at first, but the amount of things you learn and the experience you gain in that time is incredible.

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

An average day starts with going to the office early afternoon meeting with all the volunteers and staff members. Afterwards, go to school wearing the teachers vest and preparing your classroom for the English lesson. Then the kids arrive, you welcome them, and start your 1 hour English teaching.

After that, there is either one hour sport class (every day) or two times a week art class and once a week carpentry. The kids can choose where they want to go in the second hour.

After the second hour, everyone is leaving together and most of the days we enjoy our evening in the center having dinner together. Apart from work, the volunteers often do some activities together as taking free dance classes in town, playing football or just hang out.

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

My biggest fear was travelling into a complete new country, not knowing anybody or anyone. It was the first time for me to visit another continent, including encountering a different culture. I think all of the fears I had were quite normal and, as soon as I started my work at HOOP, I was welcomed to my new family here in Arequipa. It was so easy to make new friends and get in contact with the life and culture of Peru.

What was the best thing about working for HOOP?

The best thing for me was working with kids, getting to know the culture and traditions of Peru and meeting a lot of great people. My last week at HOOP was filled with so much love I would have never expect to get back from this experience. Especially the kids and mums were so thankful for my stay here. It was hard to leave them but I left with the feeling I will definitely come back one day to visit my second family and home.