In May 2018 and 2019, FSCS students and faculty traveled to Lima, Peru for an enriching learning experience in partnership with Cross Cultural Solutions. Students worked with young children in local schools and prepared and delivered lessons on the English language, and health and hygiene. In addition to in-school placement work, students participated in lessons and activities to learn about the history, development, and vibrant culture of Peru.
Trip Name: Peru 2018 & 2019 (18 days)
Partner: Cross Cultural Solutions
Credit: Students participating on this trip were eligible to accrue placement hours and gain valuable international service learning experience.
“I soon learned we weren’t quite as different as I thought - we had more in common… This trip taught me, firstly, how to communicate, even when there is a language barrier. As social workers, communication skills allow us to interact with clients from all walks of life.”
—Social Service Worker Student, Peru 2018
“I have grown in so many ways. Ways that probably would not have been possible without Peru. For that I am grateful and blessed.”
In 2018, I decided to go to Peru for my placement in the BCYC program. This was the most amazing experience ever! To me, every experience has a meaning, and has something for me to learn from. Regardless of whether it is a good experience or bad one. I may hate the bad ones, but I end up learning the most from those kinds. For this trip, I was expecting to have a few bad experiences, but in actuality, nothing of such sort happened. I was sharing a room with amazing females, had a great group of peers to learn from, and amazing support from staff. After doing my placement in Peru, I know I have learned a lot. Much of what I learned could not have been taught in a better place to be honest.
I gained new knowledge on strategies that can support young children and youth, in order to allow them to blossom in to amazing young adults. I know I have started this by completing placement in Peru as my first stepping stone. It is because of this amazing experience that I have decided to go to Jamaica in 2019 and learn more from others. Everyone’s experience will be different, and that is okay. As long as you look at each adventure and challenge with an open mind, the opportunities are endless. We all have insecurities and barriers, and these tend to limit us, but in Peru, I acknowledged those insecurities and still moved forward. There were times I was laughing so hard, I had tears of happiness, but there were also times I felt vulnerable and sad. These emotions were emotions that came out and were supported by my team. My friends and the staff were the shoulder I could cry on, and also the people to tell lame jokes to.
It was with this that I have continued moving forward with more truth, happiness and journeys. Today, some of my close friends are individuals I met on the trip to Peru, and the moments I shared with them, I share with pride to others.
“I soon learned we weren’t quite as different as I thought - we had more in common.”
I chose to participate in the Peru trip for many reasons. At first I didn’t even know this opportunity was available to us. When I saw the email with the chance to volunteer in Peru, I knew I was wanted to have that experience. I thought it would give me the opportunity to volunteer among community leaders who are currently working to address the social problems resulting from people who migrated from the rural area to Lima which has left many children homeless and living in poverty. I would have firsthand experience of their methods used. I would help to reinforce the importance of education, health and dignity. This trip taught me, firstly, how to communicate, even when there is a language barrier. As social workers, communication skills allow us to interact with clients from all walks of life. Interacting with the children was hard at first, but became easier as I relaxed and watched for ques from the children. My communication improved as I our group took Spanish lessons. What I’ve learned from the children is that some signs are universal. A smile is a smile, and a sad face is a sad face. Hugging is an expression of love and affection. I also found that the children were accepting and patient, and that they weren’t as bothered by the language barrier as much I was. Going on this trip gave me the opportunity to gain first-hand knowledge of the social service systems, and urban problems such as poverty in the urban setting of Lima. I’ve learned that there is little government involvement. From my observation, I felt the Peruvian government and it political history used false consciousness and hegemony to control the masses. However, there were also evidence of citizens’ empowerment and community engagements. For example, I was very impressed that the citizens are the ones doing for themselves, I admire they resilience and perseverance. One such example was Callao, where we did our graffiti tour. A city that was once vibrant and financially secure, was hit with crime, due to loss of jobs. The citizens of Callao, came together to rebuild their city. They moved from chaos to community, working together to revive their city and community pride. This only reiterated, the fact that we as a community or we as an individual can make a difference with the right tools and with people with like-minded people, there is nothing we can’t achieve. If I were to give advice to anyone thinking of going global, I would say to let go of any fears you have and open up yourself to learning and exploring. If you have a love of people, different cultures and foods then you should not have any issues embracing the chance to be able to volunteer internationally.