No matter where you choose to go, volunteering in another country will undoubtedly change your life and allow you to grow as a person. After spending two months in Peru, I can confidently say that I had my expectations exceeded at every turn.
Though I went to make an impact in Lima, here are the top 5 ways my volunteer time, in turn, made an impression on me:
Big or small, I got to make a difference
I had the chance to give these kids a better foundation for their lives, but it was me that learned the most through their community. I continually learned how hard families work to provide basic, everyday necessities for each other, yet I have never met a happier, more grateful people. Every morning children greeted me with hugs and kisses, and every afternoon their guardians thanked me for my commitment to their young ones, and I knew every effort (no matter how big or small) I made every day counted.
It allowed me to experience a culture in a different way
There is going on holiday to relax or check things off your bucket list, and then there is meaningful travel – travelling to make a difference and experiencing local culture. Yes, I was able to visit many tourist locations within Lima and the rest of the country like Machu Picchu, Rainbow Mountain, and Huacachina, but by volunteering in Peru, I was able to live like a local. I lived in a family home, ate traditional dishes, rode public transit to work every day, and experienced a part of the culture that is often overlooked on the tourist path. With this, I gained a greater awareness of Peruvian culture, the everyday ups and downs people face and how they work to overcome it, and what it is like to really live in another country.
I got the opportunity to meet lifelong friends
There’s something special about travelling across the world and crossing paths with people you never thought you’d meet. No matter how different you may be, you all have a shared love of adventure, travel, and giving back which brings you together to form one big family. It’s safe to say that some of my favourite memories were made with my fellow volunteers turned friends, and it made that much harder to say goodbye at the end of my placement. We lived, worked, played, and travelled together – and as much as I tried to keep my cool when it was time to leave, I definitely didn’t!
It felt good to do good
“Compassion is a sense of concern that arises when we are confronted with another’s suffering and feel motivated to see that suffering relieved.” The sense of compassionate concern is what fuels our happiness – that is why it feels good to do good. It makes us happy to see others happy because it is in our fundamental human nature, and volunteering in Peru helped me recognize that a significant source of happiness comes from giving. I realized that it made me happier than anything to see these children happy and healthy.
It made me realise that this is what I want to do
I came to Peru because when I graduated from college a little over a year ago, I wasn’t quite sure what career path I wanted to take and decided to use my time creatively and volunteer. My time in Peru has inspired me to not only volunteer again in other places, but it also helped me realize that the career path I want to pursue is one that will continue to work for the benefit of children for them to receive basic necessities that are crucial for everyday living.
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