Volunteering, learning Spanish, traveling in Peru and living abroad: those are the ingredients of the exciting and interesting AMAUTA Volunteer Program in Cusco, Peru.
The Dutch Noah was one of the participants this Spring 2016; she was with us in Cusco for almost two months and a half. So now that she is a Cusco expert 😉 and only a few days before she’s leaving Peru and traveling home again, our volunteer coordinator talked to about her experiences in Cusco and made this short video where Noah tell us about her time in Peru.
Noah, what is your favorite thing about living in Cusco?
What I liked most, is that the city of Cusco is small. It is easy to get to know a lot of people because it´s not that big. It´s like a small town.
Where did you do your volunteering and what did you do?
I volunteered at an after school project for street children in Cusco, the ones that sell sweets in the street. I helped them with their homework, played with them, and gave them attention, in general: just spend time with them, made them feel special and loved.
Do you have funny or may be weird story?
No not really funny or weird… There was just this one girl, her name is Flor. I always felt a little bit sad , she always worked every day in the street. She was really sweet and she came every day to the project. I felt like I had a connection with her and I will miss her, it won’t be easy to forget her.
What differences do you see between kids in Peru versus kids in Holland?
The kids in Peru are more thankful for the stuff that they get and they are really happy that you are there spending time with them. They also want to have a lot of attention, they like to be with you and give hugs the whole time; whereas kids in Holland normally do their own thing, they are more independent and even a bit more indifferent.
How has volunteering in Cusco changed your perspective?
I know now that you can be happy without much money and things. I definitely do not want to have spoiled children in Holland because I have seen the kids in Peru being really happy with nothing. And in Holland we don´t seem to appreciate what we have. In Holland many kids have loads of toys and other stuff and a safe home, but it is sad that they cannot really appreciate it, it’s just “normal” for them.
What advice do you have for other volunteers, or other people that come to live in Cusco to learn Spanish?
Never give up! It can be hard at first, for example, it took me some time to get used to Cusco, to the people, to the altitude. I was a bit homesick during the first two weeks. Everything seemed so different in Peru. And when I started volunteering, it took a while to have a connection with kids. That’s why it’s important you stay as long as you can. After two weeks it got better, I started to get to know the children better. And now I am so glad that I stayed, and that I did not give up!
What was your favorite food or restaurant that you tried in Cusco?
UCHU. I ate alpaca steak there and it was really good. I also really liked the chicken that my homestay family cooked for me.
What did you learn during your stay in Cusco?
I think I am more independent than before. That was a goal for me, and I feel like I achieved that. I also learned a lot about volunteering. Now I know that I can live in a total different environment and that I can survive :-0 Whereas before I was always in my comfort zone with people I knew. This is so different. It was one of the best experiences of my life, living and volunteering in Peru. And learning Spanish of course. I really enjoyed my stay here and I made a lot of friends here. It was really very good!