Getting professional and personal growth

By Alice Ebeyer (NC Intern 2016 – McGill University)


“Spending two months in Peru with Nexos Comunitarios has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. Being immersed in a different culture and being able to witness particular traditions and customs was stirring. The organization offers an amazing context to achieve efficient work, but also personal growth. The job itself allows us to further open our minds by seeing, discovering, learning so many new things. Peru is a unique place and working with local people is the best way to experience the country. This internship was the occasion to learn more about primary research and more particularly Participatory Action Research methods. Thus, it has been enriching on a personal and professional level but also on an academic perspective.

International development and development in general is a long and complex process; it needs patience and persistence and this is what I learned at NC by trying to help and making a social impact.

What this internship also taught me is to never give up, because only small groups of people who attempted to change the world actually reached their goals.”

Expanding Knowledge and Making Societal Impact with Nexos Comunitarios

By Mackenzie Vozza , Western University – Alternative Spring Break 2016

#BeTheChange – NC Learning Program

Mackenzie Vozza.jpg

“If I could recommend anything to a university student looking to expand their cultural knowledge and make a significant societal impact, it would be working with Nexos Communitarios. The Nexos staffs not only ensured we had everything we needed pre-departure, but were also constantly in contact with us during our trip to ensure a flawless execution and unforgettable experience.

The project I had the privilege of working on, PhotoVoice, was an amazing initiative designed to change the mindset of children in impoverished areas in order to help them believe they can do anything they set their mind to. Partaking in this project was an eye-opening and wonderful experience as I made friendships and memories that will last a lifetime.”

ASB is the perfect chance to get a life-changing experience

By Monika Volz (Alternative Spring Break 2015) – #BeTheChange

Moniks Volz.jpg

“ASB was the most rewarding, fun, and life changing experience I’ve ever had! I will never forget the amazing memories I made in Peru with all of the wonderful people I became so close with. It opened up my university experience to so many new opportunities and meaningful friendships. Everyone should be able to have an experience like this at least once in their lives, and ASB is the perfect chance! This program is highly organized with incredible projects and wonderful objectives to help people around the world. ASB has an assortment of different objectives such as health and nutrition, community involvement, and education among many. I went to Peru to work with an organization called Nexos Voluntarios (now called Nexos Comunitarios) where I volunteered in many of their projects. I was involved in building a bathroom for a young girl with Cerebral Palsy, volunteering at an orphanage, working with children with disabilities, teaching English, and much more. ASB is also a great program because they carefully choose really great locations and organizations to work with. When I went to Peru, I thought that I would be making a big difference in the world. I do believe that I made a difference while I was there, however, what I wasn’t prepared for was that the people in Peru made an even bigger impact on my own life. I learned so much about compassion and selflessness; everyone around me was always so loving. They taught me to be genuinely kind to everyone and treat everyone with love and respect. They made me realize that we are all connected, even if it’s not by blood. They taught me to be unselfish and to help other people. If everyone in the world would embrace the people around them like the people I met in Peru have, the world would be a much happier place. This experience has truly shaped who I am and what I believe in. Everyone should have a chance to experience a program like ASB!”

Who knew that saying so little… could say so much (Urubamba 2015)

By Bailey LeBlanc (Western University)

Learning Service with Nexos ComunitariosAs I reflect back on my trip to Peru, I become overwhelmed with emotion. It has been the single greatest experience of my life so far. Prior to submitting my application to represent Western University abroad, I thought I had a good understanding of what to expect on a trip of this kind. I had some experience traveling to developing countries and volunteering with other organizations. I decided to apply for this trip because I wanted to make a difference; I wanted to change someone’s life. Thankfully, I was accepted. So caught up and determined to make change for others, I was completely unaware of the impact this trip would have on my own life.

Before leaving for Peru, I was filled with excitement. I couldn’t wait to embark on what would be an incredible journey. Upon arrival in Urubamba (a small town in Peru), our group was welcomed graciously into the home we were going to be staying in for the next two weeks. Gabriela and Maricarmen (Nexos Comunitarios) opened their doors and showed us a kindness that was truly remarkable. At this point I was completely unaware of how much these sisters were going to mean to me in such a short period of time. Gabi and Mari, along with  others,work for Nexos Comunitarios, a non-profit organization founded in 2014 in Lima, Peru. Their mission is to promote the exercise of rights and civil liberties though Responsible Human Development, alongside the populations that live in poverty and social exclusion.

Learning Service with Nexos ComunitariosWe arrived in Urubamba in May 2015 and the organization was supporting Kiya Survivors Rainbow House, an organization that supports children, some of which have mental or physical disabilities. Most of the children living there were not related, and through various circumstances, had been separated from their parents. A woman named Luisa lives with the children and takes care of them every day, treating them like her own. The house was small for the amount of people living in it, but it was decorated with drawings and crafts the children had made and contained many donated toys and school supplies. Comparing this to my childhood, these children had a fraction of the luxuries that I had grown up with. Despite all of this, I saw a family. Everyone offered to help without complaint and worked together in the ways a family should. I saw huge amounts of love, kindness, and true happiness. Everyone was interacting with each other, there was no television, video games, or cell phones to distract anyone from being together. The kids would play together and with us, we would all help cook and reorganize the school supplies. They would help us learn some Spanish, and in return we would teach English. My favorite part was painting the outside of the home yellow and orange, so it was as bright as the people inside.

There was an obvious language barrier between us. However, I was amazed at how easy it was to communicate without using words. A smile, a laugh or a hug is universal and understood in any language. We were able to play games for hours without understanding what anyone was saying. We got to know each of the children on such a personal level. Who knew that saying so little could say so much. I would have never expected to make such tight bonds, or care so much about someone I couldn’t communicate with. It was incredible.

In addition to the work we did at the rainbow house, we were invited to Amilkar’s (one of the older children at the rainbow house) home in the mountains to meet his family and also to Mafers home to build an accessible bathroom. Both of these experiences were extremely moving in very different ways. Amilkars family prepared a traditional meal for us, only made on special occasions. We learned that Amilkar could not live with his family anymore because of his low mobility; he was unable to complete the two-hour walk into the city each day with his siblings. We also learned Amilkars sister was the only source of income in family and had to support everyone’s needs. This was the first time on the trip I had become visibly emotional. I’m not entirely sure what it was about that day, but when it was time to get on the bus to go back down the mountain I began to cry. I was so unbelievably grateful for that experience and Amilkars family’s hospitality and kindness.

Nexos Comunitarios en UrubambaMafer and her family will always hold a special place in my heart.     We were sent there to build an accessible bathroom for her (she had cerebral palsy) and her family. At the time they were only using a hole in the ground. With everyone doing their part this project was completed, and the family now had a functioning bathroom for their children to use. Sadly, A few months ago, we were informed about Mafer’s death. It was extremely heart breaking and tragic. Her family and those in the community all loved her so much; she will never be forgotten by any of us.

My life in Canada compared to my experience in Peru was very different in many ways. However, one is not better than the other. In Peru I saw so much more interaction, kindness and love between people. There was no technology or social media splitting people apart, there were no video games keeping children from experiencing what the environment has to offer, there was no TV at the dinner table preventing families from communicating. There were genuine conversations, people were interested in what others had to say, people went above and beyond to help others and were not thinking solely about themselves. There was true happiness and kindness. We often have the impression that those in the Western world need to help the “less fortunate”, when in my opinion it is equally the other way around. We have A LOT to learn from people like the ones I met in Peru. They may not have as much in a materialistic sense, but in many ways they are much, much richer.

Coming back from the trip, I can honestly say that the people I met in Peru had a bigger impact on me than I did on them. On the last day at the rainbow house and while saying goodbye to Mari and Gabi at the airport there were tears streaming down my face. I was terrified I would never see these incredibly amazing people again. The time went by much to quickly and I wish I did not have to leave. All of the people I met in Peru made such a large impact on my life it will be impossible to forget them or what they taught me about life. I am forever grateful for what they did and I know that one day, I will see them again.


PhotoVoice: The power of non-verbal communication

By Carmen Leung (Western University)

If I could describe my trip with one single word, it would be life-changing.

This was my first trip to South America, and though I initially felt nervous, I was also very excited about what was ahead. From the moment we landed (at 3 a.m.!!!), all the way to the end of our trip, the wonderful individuals at Nexos Comunitarios showed us an abundance of love. I will never forget their kindness and intense amount of energy from the moment we met. Gabo, Maricarmen, Eliana & Carlos did a wonderful job in helping us understand our surroundings, and integrating us into the culture. Not only were we able to hear stories about the history of Lima, but we were also taken to the Lugar de la Memoria and on a city excursion to see it all as well.

From my short week working with NC, I was able to see how dedicated and driven the minds behind the organization are. Though NC is a small organization, it is one that strives to make a huge difference. My time with NC was incredible; I was able to immerse myself within the organization, and felt as if I was truly making a difference in the community. I was able to spend time with the Peruvians directly, and got to see a side of Lima that most foreigners don’t. While it wasn’t always clear what we were doing next and I didn’t always have direction, I always knew I was safe and in good hands with NC.

Group activities were a great part of the PhotoVoice initiative.
       Group activities were part of PhotoVoice

While this trip was unquestionably wonderful overall, there was one particular challenge along the way; the language barrier was a hurdle I know myself and many others had trouble with. Thankfully, this PhotoVoice project emphasized a lot of non-verbal communication, and I know all of the participants were still able to make connections and jokes with the kids. Though they may not be very wealthy in terms of money, the children we worked with were some of the happiest and most loving I have ever met. They helped me see happiness in a different light, and reminded me what it feels like to be a child again.

My trip may have ended a week ago, but I will carry what I learned in Peru with me for the rest of my life. Whether it is lessons about giving more and taking less, or about the power of communication, compassion, and love, I feel empowered to make a difference in my own community and possibly abroad one day. I’m very glad to have experienced Peru the way I did. Peru, and the wonderful individuals I met will always have a place in my heart.

Words are not the only form of communication
                  The power of communication

Taking pictures…understanding stories

By Sarah Nartiss (St. Francis Xavier University)

My experience with Nexos Comunitarios in Peru has been life-changing. I have wanted to travel to Peru since as long as I can remember. The week has allowed me to deepen my interest in the culture and struggles that Peruvians faced during the internal conflict. During my week with NC we were able to work on a Learning Service Program at two different schools first in Ventanilla and second in Malambito, both in different districts of Lima. The children we got to work with ranged in age from  4 to 15 years.

Our time in Ventanilla
            Our time in Ventanilla

Working in Ventanilla was absolutely incredible. It was beautiful to see how excited and engaged the children were to be at school each day, and to be greeted by their smiling faces and a hug or a kiss. In Ventanilla we first participated in art activities with the children in which they were required to draw things they liked and didn’t like from their environment, capturing these ideas like a photograph. Next we were given real cameras, the children got to try them out taking action shots, and still frames as well as photos of people or objects around their school. Both activities were great because they really allowed us to learn about the students and connect despite the language barrier. I couldn’t get over how patient the children were when we did struggle to understand each other, and how eager and creative they were in finding ways to connect. Despite many of the children coming from homes that may be struggling financially, my group found that they were very happy and full of life.

Our second school placement was in Malambito which had a completely different vibe from that which we’d felt in Ventanilla. Ventanilla is located in the desert, up in a mountainous area and Malambito was in a busy area. This part of the project was a bit different, because we were switching places with another Canadian university involved there, and were required to complete the second portion of their project. We got to go out into the busy district with the children taking pictures of things that they liked and didn’t like from the map they created earlier in the week. Finally, we were to create a map with the children aspects of their city they liked and didn’t like all together. One thing that was different in Malambito from Ventanilla was that I was worried about the children’s security.

Despite them being safe and well cared for when inside the school, there was no control of what would happen when they left. Simple things like having the children walking in the streets alone made me worry. For this reason I was interested to see how the children themselves conceived of their role in the city through the negatives and positives they conveyed. These children were also so beautiful inside and out. They found joy in little things and really worked to connect and learn from us. I believe both sides were so appreciative about the new relationships we were forming and what we were learning from one another.

Despite some little bumps in the road like during any study, I think this initiative went well. I really hope that our efforts this week can be translated into something to improve the life and education of these amazing children, because they deserve it all so much.

My experience in Peru, I can honestly say, was life-changing. Learning about a new culture, new issues, practising a new language and making new friends was all what this week entailed. I had the opportunity to learn about myself in how I responded, engaged and learned in new situations. My time learning about the culture and people in Peru will definitely not be forgotten and I hope to return soon.

St. Francis Xavier University Group.
           St. Francis Xavier University Group


By Ailan Holbrook (Carleton University)

On our way back to Urubamba
On our way back to Urubamba

I sit here reflecting on my time in Peru and tears start leaking from my eyes. I’m smiling, but I’m crying. I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to be an intern representing Carleton University in Peru. I knew about the internship when I started my program but I never thought I would be chosen. Before going to Peru, I hadn’t really left Canada, and now… I can’t wait to leave again. My experience in Peru opened my eyes to many things, sometimes even when I thought they were open. Growing up with stories from family that has traveled and worked for various NGO’s, I thought I had some understanding of what life was life in poorer countries and of the difficulties they faced. I knew the way of life would be different in Peru and I thought I knew what to expect. I quickly learned that hearing about something, reading about something or researching something can never fully prepare you for the reality of living it and seeing it first hand.


It is more than safe to say that I changed from the start to the end of my time in Peru. Looking back, it’s funny how completely normal the “different” things were to me at the end of my short six weeks. At the beginning I looked at how some of the locals in Urubamba lived, in little houses with tin roofs, hand-washing clothes, only a little market, minimal hot water, so simplistically… and I didn’t think I could permanently live like that. I had trouble with not being about to drink the water and hated cold showers. I shamefully missed silly luxuries like that and sometimes wanted to go home. By the end of the trip… I really didn’t want to leave. I would have been more than happy owning and living in my own little one room sized house/apartment room in Peru, having only what I really needed. I realized how much of a materialistic life I live in Canadian society and I felt guilty for the way I lived and felt ridiculous that I missed it at the beginning. After a few weeks I didn’t mind the hot water issues or the non-potable tap water. Furthermore, I could care less if I ever had the foods I once missed again, and I realized that clothes and material goods should not have anything to do with real happiness. The people in Peru may run on “Peruvian time”, but they enjoy life! It is in others, in friends and families and making memories that happiness lies. In being thankful for what you have and sharing it with others. I find Canadians are so busy, always in a hurry, going from one thing to a next, too tired at the end of the day to anything but watch T.V. They often buy happiness. But happiness should not be bought, I saw the happiest people living life like it should be lived, and these people hardly had anything. It is something that has to be experienced to be fully understood and I am so thankful I got the chance to experience it.


Con el árbol en CuncaniThe human rights research we conducted in the Cusco region made me realize how difficult it actually is to make a difference. The world has become so globalized, so innovated and connected yet poverty and discrimination are still very prevalent. When a large portion of a society holds one belief, such as that indigenous are lesser for example, it is very hard to change their view. Perhaps the best solution I saw was to start changing societal views by targeting the children who become the future generations. Nevertheless, many NGO’s do not have large resources and can only focus on promoting human rights and discouraging discrimination in one small town or village. I furthermore realized that processes of development are very complicated and take a lot of time to unfold. I wanted to be able go to Peru and to make a change but I realized it was not that easy. Knowing I possess human rights and knowing discrimination is very wrong is like knowing the sky is blue… it is just accepted and known to me. Therefore, I sometimes felt like I was trying to explain why the sky was blue, or that the sky was blue and why.

I fell in love with Peru. I love the culture, the music, the dancing, the people, the celebrations and the festivals. I love the mountains, the scenery, their way of life, and the happiness and the generosity I experienced. For me, Peru was unlike any place I had ever been. I realized how big the world is, and how there is so much left for me to discover. I know I can’t change the world, but I know I’m going to try my hardest to make the biggest difference I can. Peru was a life changing experience and I will be forever thankful and in its debt.