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.”
“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.”
By Monika Volz (Alternative Spring Break 2015) – #BeTheChange
“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!”
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.
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.
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.
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.