In my third month of service here in Peru I decided to leap into what I had been asked to do the second I got off that Combi and arrived to my site…..teaching English. As a Water and Sanitation Volunteer I wanted to stick with the WASH goals my first few months in site butttt one day I found myself agreeing to teaching English a few times during the week and so it began. Little did I know this decision would be such an eye opener for me and little did I know how these kids would impact me. The average Peruvian student graduates secundaria at 16 years old. Let me repeat 16 years old! At 16 years old I was so unsure of the world around me and what the future would bring me…I’m still pretty unsure but aren’t we all? I think that it is so important for these kids to know that they have options and opportunities that exist for them beyond the tiny community they have grown up in their whole lives. I like to hope that my students leave class at least learning one new thing because on my end, I learn so much after every session. I learn something new about my community, Peruvian culture, what lies inside the creative minds of these kids and I learn the deep curiosity each student has for learning.
Meet the 5th graders of Yambrasbamba ps. that’s my awesome host brother in back on the right
On the other side of things, I also see the insecurities that reside within them and the extreme gender gaps that society has constructed for them. It can be frustrating because we as humans struggle to realize we are our own worst enemies at times and we tend to stay in that mindset unable to move from this box of ours because that’s what society tells us that we are. I think we want to be the best person that we can be but we have a hard time getting from A to B. We don’t think we are capable of such change and sometimes we just need a little push to realize we are amazing beings and that we are able to reach our dreams. In these two years I hope to help at least one person reach that B point and hope they are able to realize the magnificence that makes up who they are. It is impossible for me to change the world that we live in, but it is not impossible for me to make a difference in one life during my time here. I think we were put on this earth to help and understand one another. We too often lose sight of this and we start to turn on one another and throw our insecurities at each other, but I think much light can happen if we do the opposite. We have to try to understand where the other person is coming from. If I learn one thing from living in a different culture it is that as human beings there are some things that are universal no matter where you are placed on the planet and that’s where connection takes place, and that’s where authentic relationships start to form. Living here in Peru has made me realize this. My relationship with my host grandmother is prime example. To tell you the truth I really can’t understand half of what this woman is saying when she is talking to me, but I listen and ask her to repeat a lot of things but my time with her always warms my heart. Whenever she sees me she stops whatever she is doing and greets me with the biggest grandma hug and like always she hands me a backpack full of oranges to take with me. Our communication is a mix of gibberish, head nodding and most importantly… a lot of laughs. We may be from two different backgrounds, but we both yearn for the same things in life: To live to see a new day. My students and I may have had two completely different childhoods but I am able to see where their struggles are coming from and I try to see things from their points of view even if I do not agree at times. Neither are right nor wrong…just different.