Meeting Sarah, our Volunteer Coordinator in Cusco

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Friday May 20, 2016 - Posted by to Volunteer Work
20May
Meeting Sarah, our Volunteer Coordinator in Cusco

“Come to Peru with an adventurous spirit” is one of the many tips that our friendly and cheerful volunteer coordinator Sarah gives to the future Spanish students and volunteers that will soon be coming to Peru to participate in our volunteer program. Sarah has been working with AMAUTA since January this year and she is now an indispensable member of the AMAUTA Peru Team.

What is it like to be the AMAUTA volunteer coordinator, do you enjoy your job?

Very much, I’m very glad to be here! AMAUTA is a great place, I have great colleagues and together we provide a fun and friendly environment for foreigners that come to Cusco to learn Spanish and/or to do volunteer work in Peru.

Can you explain how volunteers are guided during their work in Cusco?

Upon their arrival, I have a meeting with each volunteer and give more information about volunteering in Cusco and prepare them for their project. There is also a workshop that provides more information about Peru in general: some culture, history, a bit of politics. On their first day, I accompany volunteers to their project to introduce them to the director(s) of the project and make sure they feel comfortable. During their program, I am always available for the volunteers and support them in any way that I can. I also visit volunteers at least once or twice at their project. During their last week, I ask volunteers to submit an evaluation of their project, and they get a volunteer certificate.

“I Love to explore the many different corners of Peru”
Which part of your work do you like most?

I love that I have the opportunity to explore the many corners of Cusco that I never would have visited if I didn´t have this job. Similarly, I love that I have the opportunity to meet people from all over the world and help them navigate life in Cusco. I love seeing how volunteering changes the perspective of the volunteers and that I get to be a part of that process.

How important is (some) knowledge of the Spanish language in order to work as a volunteer in Cusco? Are there other qualities or requirements that you personally find indispensable for volunteers?

Some of our projects obviously require a higher level of Spanish than others. However, I think that all of our projects provide the perfect opportunity to practice Spanish and improve in your speaking ability. The most important quality for a volunteer in Peru is the ability to take initiative. It is very important for volunteers to be able to take it upon themselves to do things and see what areas the project needs help with.

“Just a few hours of attention can mean the world to a kid”
Can a volunteer in a few weeks’ time really make a difference?

Definitely! Just giving a few hours of attention to a child who has no parents and no material possessions means the world to them. Whether it´s a young child on the street, a teenager in an orphanage, a senior in a Senior´s home, or a patient at a medical facility, having a foreigner take time out of his/her day to care for them will leave an impact.

Is there a particular volunteer project that has captured your heart? And if so, how come?

There is an after-school project for kids that was started by a pastor and his wife, and they have really impacted a specific community on the outskirts of Cusco. The project is very structured and the leadership at the project really appreciates the volunteers and makes them feel valued. The kids absolutely love the attention they get from the volunteers, and every little gift or donation that is given to the project.

Do you recall a specific volunteer who you have guided while working in Cusco and who has done something ´out of the ordinary´ for the project he/she worked for?

Of course there are many great volunteers. But now that you ask me to give a name.. There was one volunteer, Laura, who volunteered at a girls’ orphanage in Cusco. She took the kids to the local pool, which they hardly ever get to do. Laura wanted to do something special for the girls and I think she made them feel really loved and cared for. She also donated some of her own money to buy some new toys for the girls. Laura really went above and beyond in volunteering her time and money for those girls!

Discover Peru: Travel, Volunteer & Study

“You don´t have to go far to experience the real Cusco”
What would you say to a student or volunteer that is still trying to make up his/her mind between different locations in South America? What makes Cusco more special than other locations?

First of all, Cusco is a beautiful and magical city full of history! But it is also a unique city because the rich and the poor live very close together. In just a few minutes, you can be in a very poor area of Cusco and see the reality of the conditions in which the people live. That makes volunteering here really special, because you don´t have to go far to experience the real Cusco. Besides that, Cusco is a GREAT place for living and exploring Peru. There is so much to do here, you will never be bored and you will never feel alone. There is culture, nature, there are nice bars and restaurants, you can do great treks or adventure tours, and participate in all kind of activities.”

Do you have any ´personal´ advices or tips for volunteers planning their trip to Cusco?

I think the biggest piece of advice that I would give is to come with an adventurous spirit. Traveling, living, and volunteering in Cusco is so fun and exciting, but a big part of that is because of the random and crazy experiences that come with life here. So it´s important to be prepared for adventure to come your way and to welcome it with open arms!

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