Why did you decide to volunteer with Otra Cosa Network in Peru?
Frida: When I graduated from school I had already decided that I wanted to travel, and also practice Spanish before going to a university. I had always wanted to go to Peru because it seemed like such a wonderful country. It contains everything from amazing nature, indigenous ruins, Inca culture, the amazon, mountains, deserts, beaches - everything can be found in Peru and that’s the reason why I wanted to spend most of my time in South America over there. I also knew that I wanted to do something for someone else, help out and practice Spanish while doing so. I came in contact with Otra Cosa and their many different projects which allows volunteers with different levels of Spanish speaking abilities in the north part of Peru. This was perfect for a first time volunteer who does not speak Spanish perfectly.
What made this experience unique and special?
Frida: I found the project Casita de Madera most interesting because I felt that working with Peruvian kids in the lower class society would give me an experience out of the ordinary. The Casita is like a kinder garden for kids 3-6 years old in the rural area of Villa de los Angeles. As a volunteer, my tasks were to help the teachers with their work, make homework tasks for the kids, help decorate the little casita, but mostly play with the kids to support them and be there for them. My stay in Peru stretched over the summer holidays and the school schedule was a bit different during that period so I had the opportunity to start a light swimming-class project in a laguna 40 minutes away from the Casita. The kids truly loved it because they usually don’t have the chance to go there by themselves and bathing is not an activity you engage yourself in often in Villa de los Angeles because it is mostly desert. The project did not have the standards of a real swimming class, but still, it was something the kids truly looked forward to each week and that made it feel important even though the swimming-skills were never completely learned.
How has this experience impacted your future?
Frida: I'm really glad i spent time doing voluntary work in Peru, I learned a lot, from accepting that things almost never go exactly the way you might have planned for them to go. I also learned to speak better Spanish, to appreciate everything I have in life that people in Villa de los Angeles would never even dream of having. To stand on one's own feet and to be a part of a completely different culture and daily life than the one you are used to is an invaluable experience. I think anyone who has the opportunity to do so should take that chance.