Perfect balance

Impact: 10
Support: 10
Fun: 10
Value: 10
Safety: 10

I absolutely loved my month in Cusco! My experience surpassed all of my expectations and I am really sad that my time there ended so fast. My time at the primary school was amazing. I rotated through the three classes of five-year-old students to teach English. Most of the time I was given complete control of the class for the day and led activities to teach basic English vocabulary and concepts. I tried to make the lessons engaging by having the students act out different words, creating competitions between groups of students, and teaching them songs in English. It was amazing to see how interested they were in learning English, how much effort they put into practicing, and how much progress they made over the course of the days I spent in each class. I also loved getting to know the students in a non-academic setting: talking with them before class, eating lunch with them, and playing with them at recess. They were so excited to see me every day and would scream “Profe de ingles!!” and then come running over to give me a hug — it made coming to school every day so much fun. Additionally, the teachers were so supportive and helpful during my time at the school. I was really sad that the school had vacation for my last week and a half in Cusco because I did not want to end my time there. My other volunteer position was working at an orphanage for teenage girls. The orphanage did not need much help running activities so instead, the role of volunteers was more to spend time with the girls and be a friend. I spent most of my time in the ceramics room where the girls work for weeks to paint the most beautiful plates, mugs, and vases. They tried to teach me how to paint as well (which I was terrible at) but I had so much fun talking with all of the girls and listening to music while we painted. It was amazing to me how positive and friendly all of the girls were. They were always excited to ask me a million questions, show me what they were doing, give me/each other a hug, or just sit by me. I tried to get to know as many girls as possible because it was important to me to be more than just another random face—I wanted to truly get to know them on a personal level and be a friend they could feel comfortable with. I was able to go on a field trip with the orphanage during my last week and it was so much fun to spend time with the girls in a new environment, witness their excitement at traveling outside Cusco, and be a part of their special day. The loyalty and love the girls have for each other inspired me and I will never forget my time with them. Outside of volunteering, I was lucky enough to do a lot of traveling while I was in Cusco. I did a tour of the city, visited the sacred valley, the salt mines, the last Inca bridge, Machu Picchu, Rainbow Mountain, and Humantay Lake. I loved all of these adventures, made some great friends on the trips, and was amazed by the beautiful places I got to see. I also enjoyed exploring the city of Cusco. There is so much to see and do: the museums, restaurants, and markets are all incredible, I took a Peruvian cooking class, I visited an Incan planetarium, I went to see live music, and so much more. Throughout my stay in Cusco, I lived with Maria Elena and I truly could not have asked for a better host Mom. She made me feel completely at home and I am so grateful for how caring she was. The food was incredible, the beds were comfortable, and Maria Elena was the best. They love she shows to all of her ABV volunteers is amazing. She is both a mother figure and an amazing friend. She gave great advice, was so supportive of all aspects of my life, and was so much fun to spend time with. I felt like I had plenty of freedom but also felt like I was always been cared for—it was a perfect balance. Also, there were often other volunteers living in the house and I had so much fun getting to know them. We did trips together, went out to dinner, or just hung out after a long day. It truly felt like we were a family. Overall, I am so grateful for the unforgettable experience I had in Cusco. It was more amazing than I could have ever imagined.

Would you recommend this program?
Yes, I would
Year Completed