Sarah recently graduated from Appalachian State University with two degrees, one in Creative Writing and one in Spanish. Sarah was interested in working with Volunteers Peru because she wanted to experience different cultures through ordinary, day-to-day experiences, but she was also specifically intrigued with Casa Hogar Torre Fuerte and the concept of working with young women. When Sarah isn’t working, she likes writing, running, reading, and inventing new recipes.
What is your favorite travel memory?
One of my favorite travel memories is from when I was able to travel to Morocco. A friend and I spent several days in Chefchaouen, Morocco, and on one of the days, we went outside of Chefchaouen to hike to a waterfall.
I loved this hike because I love being outdoors and the landscapes were amazing. About halfway through our hike, we passed someone cooking meat over a campfire. The smell of the fire made me think of my home and my family, and roasting hotdogs and marshmallows with my sisters when I was younger—I was struck by how specific and nostalgic that smell was for me.
For me, this is one of my favorite traveling memories; I loved being able to connect the new and different things I was experiencing with the things I have always loved. I think that is the best part about traveling -- being able to expand your definition of home while also understanding what home means to other people.
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
Working with Volunteers Peru, especially at Casa Hogar Torre Fuerte, has taught me a lot about what it means to love other people.
Despite the backgrounds the girls at Casa Hogar Torre Fuerte come from, they are always kind, eager to share, and ready to love. On my first day with them, the girls had a popcorn snack and they all offered to share with me.
While this is a small, seemingly insignificant gesture, it reminds me that loving other people doesn’t have to be a grand and romantic ordeal—loving others can be simple and straightforward.
If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?
Though both of our projects are amazing, I would choose to involve myself in our Tomepampa project.
Tomepampa is a very rural village with only about 200 people. As such, it has a slower pace of life that I really enjoy. People stop to talk to one another, and they seem to take time to enjoy the present situation.
Apart from that, the town is absolutely beautiful—it’s located in the Cotahuasi Canyon—the air smells sweet, and you can hear birds singing in the morning.
What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?
Our company is different in that we did not start our own projects. Rather, we support pre-existing projects. This means that we are able to more fully invest in the pre-existing societal structures in the hopes of helping them improve so that they can further improve their own community.
It is also nice because, being that the projects already existed when we decided to partner with them, Volunteers Peru has the opportunity go beyond preliminary establishment work — for example, last year we got to organize a student exchange between Tomepampa and England, something Volunteers Peru wouldn’t have been able to do if we were working alone.
Even though these larger endeavors are wonderful, I am most proud of Volunteers Peru during routine, daily trips to Casa Hogar Torre Fuerte when I see volunteers connecting with girls, making them feel loved.
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?
I think the biggest factor in company success is honesty. If people working within a company are able to be honest with each other, then the company can work more efficiently and in the best interest of everyone involved.
Honestly helps eliminate unnecessary frustration, conflict, and allows for healthier work relationships—which are essential for a positive work atmosphere and productive company.