Emily Quintero - High School Specials, Care & Community in Peru
When I signed up for the trip I wasn't exactly sure what I was in for. I had never seen South America and had definitely never traveled alone before. I took a flight from Miami to Lima and then from there to Cusco. I guess you could say I was a bit nervous with all the traveling but when the flight went well and I landed safely in Cusco, I felt more excited than anything.
After landing in Cusco, my roommate and I were driven to our host family's home. It took us a while to get situated and get to Urubamba, where my host family lived, as it was two hours away from the airport in Cusco. When I finally did get settled, the family was extremely welcoming and made me feel right at home. I got to meet the mom, Luchi, and her son, Pierro. By the end of the trip, they felt like family.
I stayed with my roommate in the family's little private cottage behind the house where we had our own bathroom and bed. We had a lot of privacy and a good Wi-Fi connection, making it easy to connect with friends and family back home.
My Care Placement
During the day, my group and I would volunteer at various kindergartens around Urubamba. We would play with the children and help them with their schoolwork. We also volunteered at a nursing home and at a school specialising in teaching children with special needs. It was incredible. The children were so sweet and outgoing, and it also gave me a chance to practise and improve my Spanish. In the kindergartens, we were tasked with helping the teachers, entertaining the children, and making them cute little fruit salads! We were also tasked with helping to repaint the school walls. At the elderly home, we helped cook and distribute lunch and dinner, and helped clean their rooms. We also had a chance to sit and talk with them about life in Peru and their life in the home.
Our daily routine began by waking up at 7am in order to meet at the office around 8-8:30am along with the other volunteers. Then we would take a bus to the kindergarten in Urubamba. There, we would go about the day’s activities until lunchtime. At around 12pm we would go back to our host families for lunch. After lunch we would then meet back with the other volunteers in the office and get ready to continue working. We got back home at around 6pm to have dinner and then go to sleep. On the days we had off we would meet at the office around 9am and got home at around 8pm.
When I wasn't volunteering, I got a chance to take salsa lessons, participate in a cooking class, and I was even able to hike a beautiful trail through the mountains with the friends I had made on the trip. We also went to the Plaza de Armas and got to walk around for a little while. We went to a restaurant there and got to sit down and taste real authentic Peruvian food. We ate things like Causa, Papa a la Huancaína, and fresh ceviche. We stuffed out faces with all these new flavors! It was amazing!
We also got the chance to take a ceramics class where I got to make myself a small vase as a keepsake! We frequently visited Cusco and places around Cusco like Písac and Machu Picchu. The experience was amazing. Being able to see Machu Picchu and climb the steps was such a unique experience.
As a whole, the trip embodied everything I hoped it would. Making a difference in the community and being able to make long lasting friends and memories at the same time was something I wouldn't trade for the world.