Alumni Spotlight: Rebecca Ceremuga

Rebecca Ceremuga is from Rapid City, South Dakota and is currently a freshman at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology studying Mechanical Engineering. She participated in the Volunteers Solutions program in Cuzco, Peru from June 2, 2012 through June 9, 2012. She enjoys cooking, running, hiking and spending time with family and friends.

Rebecca with children in Peru

Why did you decide to volunteer abroad with Volunteering Solutions in Peru?

Rebecca: My family chose to participate in the Volunteer Solutions program in Peru because we had never been to Peru, knew there was a lot of need in the area, and wanted to visit Machu Picchu.

Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.

Rebecca: My part in the volunteer program was to help in a kindergarten. Two of my sisters and myself helped a teacher and her 30 young kids every day for a week. Our day typically started at about nine o'clock in the morning and finished at 12:30. We would assist the students in completing their daily assignment as well as play with them during their free time outside. We also taught them a few words in English: red, green, and yellow. Teaching them these colors served a specific purpose; the third day we taught them how to play the game, "stoplight". This was a fun activity for them as it proved that they had met the objective of the English we had taught them. The kids loved when we read books to them or played ring-a-round-the-rosy. On one of the days, we brought them all fruit snacks as a snack - it was amazing to see how excited they became when we told them we had a present for them. Another day we brought bottles of lotion and put lotion on the kids' dry faces and hands. It was absolutely heartwarming to see them get so excited over something like lotion that kids in the United States take for granted.

Jaclyn helped make a difference in Peru with Volunteering Solutions

What made this experience unique and special?

Rebecca: This volunteering experience was very special and something that I will always remember. I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to go to a poor country where the people have such great need and to be able to help them, even if it was only a tiny fraction of the entire population of Peru. I was thrilled to be able to practice my Spanish with both the teacher and the kids that I volunteered with. When we arrived on the first day, the kids were nervous around us and weren't too excited about us being involved in their classroom. However, by the end of that first day, their attitudes had changed 180 degrees. They didn't want us to leave and simply couldn't wait to come back to school the next day because they knew that we would be there. Leaving on our last day at the school was very emotional. The kids didn't quite comprehend that it was our final day and that we wouldn't be there when they came to school on Monday. They threw a party for us; we played music and did a lot of dancing. They also gave myself and my sisters a key chain with a Peruvian figurine on the end of it; every time I look at this present I am reminded of the amazing experience I had in Peru with the young kids from the kindergarten.

Rebecca was able to explore Peru while working with Volunteering Solutions

How has this experience impacted your future?

Rebecca: The Volunteer Solutions program that I was a part of in Peru has definitely changed my outlook on the future. I plan on returning to South America many times so I can volunteer more and impact more peoples' lives. My experience in Cuzco was amazing and I look forward to being able to be apart of another volunteering mission trip. With biomedical engineering as my future career, I hope to be able to travel to poor countries and use my expertise in the biomedical engineering field to better the lives of many.