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Recent Blog Posts from Peru

A MAGICAL TIME   (published in Peru)

April 29, 2013 by   Comments(0)

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By Peru Projects Abroad Director: Tim de Winter

Volunteering is magical. Or at least it can be. Despite what you may believe, what you get out of volunteering doesn’t depend that much on the context, but more on the attitude you bring to the experience.

Some of our research shows that staying with a host family that has a nicer house, a higher income or that is closer to a work placement has no impact on the volunteer’s experience at all. Instead, our research suggests that the better the volunteer’s relationship with the other volunteers, staff and partner organizations, the happier they are. From general happiness studies we know that generosity trumps selfishness. As a volunteer you give your time and energy and some of your wealth and this makes you feel happier. Broader research has proven that the largest “happiness effect” is seen when people do positive things together with other people.

After 10 years of experience, I have become convinced that the essence of a good volunteering experience is to be found in the relationships you build with others. I believe this to be the fundamental starting point for the development of your experience. However, for volunteering to be magical, we need to take things further. There is no time for excuses, for saying that “the circumstances weren’t right”, or “I wasn’t here enough time” or even “I am a volunteer so I do not have to go to work today if I do not feel like it”. I believe the real focus point is your sincere commitment. What Projects Abroad Peru counts on is your belief, belief that you, in your time with us, can really do something for the lives of less fortunate people.

Not everyone is lucky enough to be born ...

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April 24, 2013 by   Comments(0)

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Claire Conrad, 19 years old from Luxemburg, volunteered on the Inca Project during a break between school and university.  She wanted to find out if archaeology was something she would like to study further.  After 6 months in el Establo, she has returned to Europe to begin studying archaeology in Germany.

Clarie discovered that life in Huyro was not only about archaeology.  Yes, she had the opportunity to participate in excavations, clear ruin sites, classify artefacts, learn about technical drawing and how to recognise the differences between the architectures of different cultures.  But she also found there was plenty to do round the house – el Establo – as well as community work in the town of Huyro.  Once a week, Claire and the other volunteers went to the library to run educational sessions with the children.  “For all these tasks it is important to have enthusiastic volunteers, ready to participate and help,” she notes.

Despite the cultural differences between Luxembourg and Peru, Claire found it easy to adapt to the Peruvian way of thinking (“at least partly, a few things are just too weird”) and embrace the way of life on the project.  “You have to be open-minded and be able to live without your normal standards; otherwise you won’t be able to enjoy the experience.”

For Claire, el Establo became a home she now misses more than she ever missed her home in Luxemburg.  Since she has returned, the differences in lifestyle between Europe and Peru have become even more obvious to her.  She formed good relationships with the staff at the project, as well as other volunteers and felt that she gained a lot from the experience.

“I learned quite a lot during my ...

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Chocolate Factory!   (published in Peru)

April 11, 2013 by   Comments(1)

Last Sunday I did a 2 hour workshop at a tiny tiny chocolate factory in Cusco. You can do a free thing, but that just involves reading, no actual chocolate making/eating. So really we had no option.

It started at 11, and on arrival we were given chocolate tea (yummy) as well as some dark and milk chocolate to try (obviously yummy). Then we were taken to the kitchen and all given aprons (anything that involves an apron is going to be good in my book!). Then the real tour began, starting with a quick talk about how cocoa grows and the different varities infront of a lifesize (but fake) cocoa tree. Then the real stuff started. First we tasted some dried cocoa beans, then roasted them, peeled them and tasted them again (this tasting thing is going to become a bit of a theme so ebar with). Then we crushed them and tried some of that, before making both Incan chilli hot chocolate, and more European cinnamon and cloves hot chocolate. And we made some chocolate tea. And obviously ate all of that.

Then we talked about what happens next, and saw how they had a machine where two big stones mixed and crushed the chocolate extra finely, and sugar and cocoa butter was added. The melted chocolate being swirled round and round was really quite beautiful, and i had to exhibit some serious self restraint not to just stick my whole head in. So pretty proud of myself for that!

Then we made our own chocolates. We each chose a set of moulds, and then got a huge array of things to put in our chocolates, from M&Ms to cinnamon, salt to chilli, almonds to coca leaf, and way way more. I chose M&Ms; almonds; cinnamon, cloves and raisins; cocoa nibs; and salt. Then we poured chocolate on top (dark or milk or a mixture), mixed them up a bit, and put them in the fridge to set.

We had ...

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Chocolate Factory!
Chocolate Factory!

University of Delaware student Livia Berg teaches nutritional health to mothers in South America   (published in Peru)

April 11, 2013 by   Comments(0)

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“My most memorable experience was doing house visits in Ccotohuincho.  I knew to expect not the best of living conditions, but seeing a house for 11 family members smaller than my room at school with only one bed could see the malnutrition effects on the family and how worn out and muscle-wasted they were. Dirt was even engrained into their skin...  It was so sad to see these kids struggling and knowing that their life is going to be like this forever.”

Studying Dietetics at the University of Delaware and working on the Nutrition Program in the Sacred Valley may not seem like a huge step, but 20 year old Livia Berg discovered that they are worlds apart.

Livia had decided that she wanted to travel, while gaining experience in her field of study, so the Projects Abroad Nutrition Program seemed to fit the bill.  She was looking for a productive way to use the skills she'd been learning for the previous three and a half years and wanted to make the most of the opportunity to experience a culture very different to the USA, as well as to understand the problems faced by others in the world.

Based in the Centro de Vigilancia in Ccotohuincho – a poor semi-urban community neighboring the town of Urubamba – Livia worked helping to prepare and serve healthy breakfasts and lunches to mothers, pregnant women and their children.  During the meals she would explain the importance of nutritional health and what a “healthy meal” consists of.  Livia learned that a volunteer on the Nutrition Program can make a big difference, because many of the mothers have no idea of the basics of nutrition or food hygiene.  She noted that most mothers did not trust the government workers, while the Projects Abroad ...

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University of Delaware student Livia Berg teaches nutritional health to mothers in South America
University of Delaware student Livia Berg teaches nutritional health to mothers in South America

This experience was life-changing. I know that sounds cliche, but it's true.   (published in Peru)

April 8, 2013 by   Comments(0)

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Kristine Prunskis, 18, Nutrition Program

Now that I'm back home and my experience in Peru and with Projects Abroad is left as a memory, I am finally able to step back and see everything as a whole. How is it that in only a few months, I can make the closest friends I have ever had, I can work the hardest I have ever worked, I can be as scared and vulnerable as I have ever been in my entire life, I can learn and experience more than all of high school combined. How is it that in only a few months, a strange and unknown place became my home? 

Every day, from Spanish lessons to working with nutrition, from hikes to Machu Picchu to jamming on the dance floor on weekends, new and fantastic people were coming in and out of my life creating the most wonderful journey of all my eighteen years.

I remember one day, I was sitting beside a mother of three little kids during a nutrition workshop taking pictures of EVERYTHING. The mother asked if I could take a picture of her daughter and I suggested that instead, I take a picture of her AND her daughter together. When I showed that mother and her little girl the photo I had taken of them, they teared up and asked if I could print it out for them to keep. 

It suddenly hit me that these two had never had their picture taken, let alone one together- mother and daughter. 

I also remember once when a three year old boy came in and I came to him fully prepared with a stack of paper and handful of crayons, only for his older sister to tell me that he didn't know how to color and was a hopeless cause. It may have taken about an hour, but I finally got that little boy scribbling on pieces of paper like it was nobody's business! Can you imagine walking into a room full of kids, except none of them know how to color ...

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This experience was life-changing. I know that sounds cliche, but it's true.
This experience was life-changing. I know that sounds cliche, but it's true.

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