My name is Colleen from Western University and I was a participant of Western University’s Alternate Spring Break (ASB) in May 2018. During that time, we travelled to Peru and had the privilege of working with Nexos Comunitarios! Alternate Spring Break is a program that travels worldwide and aims to teach participants about the community’s’ ways of life, common challenges, understanding their long-term goals and engaging with community members. This means each experience is different and uniquely rewarding.
During my time in Peru, we spent a week in Cuncani working with children as young as 2 up to age 12 to teach the importance of washing your hands. We did this by teaching the kids about germs through a play, asking them to draw what they thought germs looked like and using foldscopes (paper microscopes) to show what germs actually look like for them to compare results. Once we had samples under the foldscopes the kids were eagerly looking over each other’s shoulders to get a turn and see the germs. It was a relief to see the project go over well because this was the first time it had been done in the community. After this project, our ASB group went to community members homes to see how they live. Both projects had reports written to communicate our findings that Nexos will use as they continue with their initiatives. Our community partner, Nexos also provided us with cultural workshops to understand Peruvian culture and society better. This really amplified the cultural significance of the trip.
This trip allows participants to gain invaluable learning opportunities from beingoutside the classroom and in a new community, being immersed in a different culture and working with a community partner to be a helping hand in the initiatives. Each initiative is based on current community needs which makes this trip so beneficial to the community.