Lauren Blumhardt - General Teaching Projects in Peru
This summer I had the immense blessing of living in the Sacred Valley of Peru for six weeks. I lived in a pueblo called Pisac which is one of the towns of the valley and a piece of my heart will always be with this little town. I came down from Colorado, United States to help teach English alongside a friend of mine named Dominic Pera. I absolutely loved my experience, I wish there was words to describe how truly magnificent Peru is. Peru is full of rich tradition and kind humble people of the Incan descendants.
My Peruvian Host Family
During my visit I stayed with the Apaza family, and they are nothing short of incredible people. They were the most welcoming and caring family I have ever met. The Apaza family helped with everything from delicious meals, getting the real Peruvian experience, and helping learn Spanish. The family only spoke Spanish, which was a little tough for me because I arrived speaking very little. Everyday my family helped me improve my Spanish and remained patient with me. I made some hilarious mistakes in trying to speak the language, so it made for some funny times with the family.
I would highly recommend learning as much Spanish as you can before you go to Peru, because it’ll help you immensely. Even though I didn’t know Spanish at all when I came I started picking it up pretty easily, much faster than I thought I would. I lived with a friend of mine from the US and he knew Spanish very well so that helped a great amount, but I would recommend to try and speak as much as possible, the family understand if you make mistakes and it’ll only help you!
The food in Peru is delicious, they make amazing bread and the type will vary depending on which town you go to. You will eat lots of potatoes and rice so get ready! But not without a cup of tea with every meal which is so good. Traditional meals in Peru are soups, chicken with vegetables, Kaniwa and many more. A delicacy in Peru is, believe it or not, guinea pig. It tends to scare those who haven’t tried it before, but it’s actually not bad and tastes like chicken. I thought all of my meals were awesome and I definitely recommend trying as much food as possible. It’s all fresh and prepared by hand.
My Teaching Placement
The people of Peru for the most part are really grateful for volunteers so when you walk around in the towns and tell the natives you are a volunteer with Projects Abroad you are accepted right away. When I was in Peru I was placed in a school in Lamay which was about ten minutes from where I stayed in Pisac. I absolutely adored my school and it helped a lot that the teacher, Cristobal, who I taught with, could speak English. I helped the kids with pronunciation and sentence structure. We spent a lot of time really trying to make sure the kids understood the verb “to be”.
The tough thing about the kids in the Sacred Valley is that they don’t really have any motivation to learn. They are the sweetest kids and are so interested in your life, but they haven’t really been all that interested in school. The kid’s scores for English are extremely low, so it was difficult trying to find ways to get them interested in learning English. Some kids are really dedicated to learn English and it is very important to them to get a successful job later in life.
The kids love to play volleyball and soccer, so during lunch I would play with them. I also taught an adult class in Calca and that was a blast – the students were so funny. Unlike Lamay those in the adult class, wanted to learn English for their future jobs, so they were dedicated and hardworking. The kids in Peru really need volunteers who are teachers, to help them escape the cycle of poverty, starting with a good education.
One hard thing about teaching was the strikes. Basically the teachers of Peru get a really low salary, one that is not suitable for them to support their families. So while I was there my school went on strike which was tough because I didn’t get to say goodbye to my kids. It was also a blessing in disguise because I got to experience other work in Peru such as painting and working in an orphanage and helping out in a day care centre.
I really loved working with the other volunteers, I became so close to all of them and we just made so many great memories together! I would recommend becoming prepared if there is a strike and stay flexible. There is nothing that Projects Abroad can do about the strikes, so just be open and they will get you other work to help with.
Travelling around Peru
Peru has gorgeous landscapes, so I would plan out your travelling as soon as you can to see as much as you can! Cusco is a great place to go visit and so are the other towns of the Sacred Valley, they offer so much to do and climbing the ruins is a must. Also Machu Picchu is beyond words, there’s a reason it’s the seventh wonder of the world! Contact other volunteers and travel together because it’s an absolute blast and also make sure to spend some time at your host family.
While I was there, there was a huge festival going on called the Virgen Del Carmen. My host brother danced in the festival and I went with my host family to a big party with lots of dancing and great music, all in all it was a great time! Your host family can take you to experience the real Peruvian life so make sure you become close with them and help them in any way.
To wrap it up, I had the time of my life in Peru and can’t wait to return one day. My advice to future volunteers would be to remember to be open and experience every part of Peru that you can.