During my journey here with VivePeru, the English and social work volunteers go to a poorer part of town called El Progreso. Here is a few pictures so that you can get the idea of what it looks like.
The kids are obviously adorable!!! Unfortunately their living conditions are not great and their reality is very different from what many people are used to.
Yesterday was our last day going and since I’ve left I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. When we went yesterday, we were telling the kids about our school and what we wanted to be when we finished school. Then we asked them to draw, just like we had, the steps to get to their dream. A lot of kids said things like teachers, doctors, lawyers, etc and began drawing. One kiddo in my group said he wanted to robar or steal when he grew up. I wanted it to be a joke but the sad reality is that it was not a joke; he was serious. Some of these kids grow up and see no alternative to the way they are living. They have parents who are too preoccupied with other things or set a bad example and who do not have anyone to help them see different. Don’t get me wrong, I am aware that these types of situations occur everywhere including the US, but when a 7 year old tells you his life goal is to become a thief, it breaks your heart. It makes you realize that while you may have had some impact, there is a lot more to be done. Thankfully VivePeru comes in and continues bringing volunteers in that continue to make a difference and all I can hope is that all of us touch these children’s hearts enough to make them think twice about what they choose to do when they grow up. I hope that we teach them enough to give them the hope that they can go to school and do really cool things when they get older. That is obviously the goal and the sad reality is that that is not always realistic. It really breaks my heart and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since.
All VivePeru volunteers here get to stay with a host family. Some live with multiple people in their houses while some, like me, just have one other person. I love my host family so much! It consists of a wife, her brother, her husband and her son. All so awesome. Here’s some photos of them. This is my host mom and her son
but this is everyone
so my host uncle is on the left, host mom and her son are in the middle and our host dad is on the right. Traditionally in Peru, just like most of South America, the mom is the cook and the dad is the breadwinner. I have learned that our family is not traditional (yay). Although my host mom does cook, our host dad does take care of the son, he helps set out the table and serve the food. Everyone is really funny and with a three year old in the house there is definitely never a dull moment. These last couple of days have been full of toilet visits and lots of naps because I had a stomach thing going on. They adjusted what they cooked to help me feel better and my host mom kept checking up on me in between naps to make sure I was doing okay. My mom was happy to know that I am very well taken care of.
My host mom really likes to have a good time and she invites me everywhere. When we first got here, we went out to a club to celebrate her birthday with her husband and her two best friends. Here are the pics:
(note that the drinking age here is 18). It was pretty fun! We danced salsa to a live band and just had a good time with everyone. Today she invited me to a Botanical Garden that is walking distance (most things are here). She thought it closed at 6 although it actually closed at 5 so we ended up going with her son to a park. That was fun because a bunch of little kids and their parents from the area were out playing. I’m happy to say that I got to play volleyball! Now we are home but we will be going to see Rapido y Furioso 6 in a little bit. Can’t wait!!! I clearly got lucky to have such an awesome host family!
So as I mentioned in my first post, I have definitely been home sick. I miss my mom, my brothers, my sisters, my boyfriend and friends an extreme amount. The first couple of days in Peru were really fun but then home sickness hit and I wondered why I had left for so long (I should have asked myself why I was being a big baby!) The first thing I missed was Perla’s play. She definitely guilt tripped me on that one (on top of me already feeling bad). The next thing I missed was the concert both of my brothers were in. They were sad too but then Alan decided that he would take the time to redo his performance for me through Skype. My mom told him to charge me money for the private performance but he decided that he wanted me to see it for free lol This is him giving me a hug after his private performance.
I then missed a goal that Brian made during a soccer game. Although he wouldn’t reenact it, he told me step by step how it happened. I realized that life does go on and I can leave and they are going to make sure I stay up to date with life while I’m gone. Sounds silly but it was a worry and it made me feel better. Now even though I can’t wait to see them and I still miss them, it’s better 🙂 I guess this means I’m growing up…
So I am not much of a blogger but I figured that I should since some people have asked so here goes…
My first culture shock was on the way to the hostel after the airport. Speed limits and signs and whatever else we use in the U.S. exists here but isn’t paid attention to. People just drive and try to stay out of each other’s way. Beeping is the only signal people use. It seems to work out fine except that the day is filled with constant beeping. You eventually learn to tune it out. I didn’t think I would get home sick but I’m apparently not as independent as I gave myself credit for. The people here are really cool and nice though so that definitely helped.
My favorite part of everything has definitely been the kiddos. There are four English volunteers here. Two of which do not know much Spanish and two who do. We are put into two teams and the whole primary (kinder through sixth grade) is split among the two teams. We see each class once a week although we see kindergarden (among both teams) everyday. The kids absolutely love to learn. My first two days were not too successful. I definitely never gave credit to teachers on how much time, effort and energy they put into their classes. Managing the children alone should be one job! The first two days were trial and error and getting to know at what levels every class is. Getting and maintaining the attention of the children is hard because they all have so much energy and there’s so many of them. By the third day though, we had it down. We learned different strategies for different classes and it just all worked out. Once we figured out how to run the class it went great. The kids absolutely loved to learn and they all wanted us there and there were always people in every class who asked us not to leave so we must be doing something right! The kids are absolutely awesome. From being cute to being funny to just being clever. I even had one of my first graders give me a bracelet and tell me thank you for teaching her. SHE STOLE MY HEART! It’s definitely been a crash course on teaching but it has been an amazing experience I’m so glad I came and am doing this. It has definitely been a challenge to come up with lesson plans because the school has very little resources. Mostly everything we use in class comes from the VivePeru office and it comes from donations that people have given. The teachers know how good it is that their students are learning English so they let us go over scheduled time if we need to (which we usually end up taking) and that is fun. I do wish we had more time with each class though.
The principal asked us to do structured activities during recess so we do. We play games like duck, duck, goose and the kids love it and they love us. They love us so much and always attack us when we get to school with hugs. I am going to miss them so much.
The school is super different than what I’m used to. The kids don’t even have bathroom utilities and when they do they are very very limited. No matter what financial struggles there in schools in the States, I don’t think they would ever not have toilet paper. Made me realize that our standard of poor is not really that poor.
I also found it interesting that kids do not have after school activities to participate in. They get out at 12:30 pm and do not have anything to occupy their time after that. I feel like kids need something productive to occupy their time with and that is not something they have here. I talked to Rachel, the VivePeru CEO and she said that as the program grows and is capable of doing so, she would love to start clubs so that children are spending their time productively. I feel like I learned and grew a lot from the after school programs I was involved in so it was really weird to me that they do not have that here.
I can definitely see the thirst for English that the kids have. It is pretty cool to feel appreciated. I love working with them and this experience has so far shown me that I am going into the right career path.