Peace Corps, Peru
"I will always remember the drive to my village three hours from the city of Piura, Peru, a city with the internet, fancy restaurants, and other English speakers. The road was unpaved and uphill, curving around the mountainside climbing to my village with 200 people and not much else. I remember my first trip there sitting next to my community partner asking naïve questions in broken Spanish. I arrived at my town not knowing what to do, but I was excited because that was the beauty of the Peace Corps. I had program goals, of course, but I could design and implement projects that I thought the community needed and that were interesting to me. I had never designed an entire project before, never taught a class, never written a grant, never lived outside of Ohio, never eaten intestines or guinea pig. For me, it was to be a learning experience, and I was up for the challenge.
I was a youth development volunteer for two years in the Peace Corps. Working alongside community partners, we decided that the secondary school needed a computer lab. We wanted each of the students to have their own computer. This was no small feat for a town which had had electricity for only two years and classrooms only wired for light bulbs.
Creativity, perseverance, and time were all I needed. Time to learn the language, write, and receive grant money. Creativity was called for to think of alternative ways to obtain more computers and engage students and teachers alike to learn a subject many knew nothing about.
Perseverance is needed because everything about rural Peru is different than what I was used to. We did complete the computer lab and classes have been incorporated into the school's curriculum.
Students now learn computer basics with 13 computers. That was my main project but I also implemented environmental outreach programs, trained doctors and nurses in HIV/AIDS awareness and capacity building, and led career planning workshops for youth. During my experience I learned so much about my strengths and weaknesses, about overcoming challenges, and really to appreciate all that I have.
Peace Corps was a greatly challenging and infinitely rewarding experience and there will always be a place in my heart for Peru."
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