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Natalie Cook - General Teaching Projects in Peru

Carpets of flowers

I went to Peru on a teaching placement in 2006. I spent three months living there with a local host family in a small town in between Urubamba and Pisac called Calca. I was teaching in Agropecuario school in Calca which was about a ten minute walk from my house along a beautiful river with mountains either side of it.

School ran from 8am to 1.30pm everyday, we taught for about 15 hours a week with classes ranging from 11 to 20 years of age. I was teaching with another volunteer. The school was pretty basic and we had the odd amusing lesson when the classroom got invaded by the school dog or local lizards. We taught very basic English things like telling the time, about places where people live, jobs etc. We also had several fun lessons based on Easter as we were in the country at the time. We had word searches and different games to play with them.

Me at Machu Picchu

As Peru is a Catholic country Easter is celebrated in a big way. There are lots of local processions of religious statues around the local towns. In the week of Santa Semana the local schools and families made carpets on the streets. These are pictures made of coloured sawdust and flowers. They are really beautiful. That night there is a large procession through the town with statues and the carpets all get walked over.

The host family I lived with were all very friendly and welcoming and always made sure we were happy. I lived with one other volunteer, which was good as I didn’t speak much Spanish when I got there. It quickly improved with the help of other volunteers and my host family. There were also two children in the family and we spent many evenings playing games with them, their favourite being blind man’s bluff, I lost count of the number of nights we spent playing that after dinner.

School assembly

During my three months there I was able to travel around the Sacred Valley at the weekends and in the afternoons after lessons had finished. We saw many of the local Inca ruins and also had a few visits to Pisac market, where you can have fun bartering with the locals for souvenirs or presents for people back home. At the weekends we also visited the local city Cusco. There are loads more ruins there and many other markets and attractions to visit. It can be a nice break from the valley.

After I finished my placement I spent two weeks travelling around Peru with some volunteers I had met in the area. We went down to Lake Titicaca, across to Arequipa and up the coast towards Lima, stopping at various points on the way up including the Nazca Lines.

It was a pretty busy two weeks and when we got to Lima airport we were all pretty exhausted and looking forward to a hot shower and comfy bed. Despite that it was still an amazing experience and even though its nearly two years since I went it feels like it was just yesterday and I’m always remembering things that happened which I had forgotten about.

Natalie Cook

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