Sunday, March 26, 2017

Volunteering in Peru

March 2016 - ‘Home’ again in Cusco – this time for 3 weeks instead of 3 days. It definitely feels like home as we settle in for 3 intense weeks of voluntary teaching and Spanish language study. We live with local lady Carola who feeds us tantalising tropical fruit breakfasts and wonderfully filling vegetarian gluten free dinners in her cosy suburban apartment.

We teach for half the day at Inti Runakunaq Wasin School (Kechuan for House of the Men of the Sun) and it turns out to be one of the happiest teaching experiences of our lives. We finally get to team teach, which we’ve dreamed of since we first became teachers over a decade ago. The work is incredibly rewarding because the children are so enthusiastic and appreciative. They range in age from 6 to 13 years, boys outnumber girls 3 to 1, and the school is running a program for them during school holidays because they come from disadvantaged backgrounds. We teach them English during the morning and their other teachers run classes in practical skills like art, gardening and cooking.

We work pretty much non-stop from 9.30 to 1.00 but it’s still hard to tear ourselves away and by the end of the 3 weeks we really don’t want to leave. The children are making such great progress and we have so many ideas buzzing around in our heads about new topics to teach them. We learn heaps from the children about their culture, especially on the day Michael turns 55 and nearly gets his head pushed into his non-gluten free birthday cake. He manages to close his mouth just in time so his lips only get grazed by the icing.

Turns out the cultural norm in Latin America is to squash birthday boy or girl face down into their cake before everyone eats it: a messy, unhygienic and hilarious custom. Michael only escaped because he yelled out, ‘I’m allergic to my cake – I couldn’t get a gluten free one’ when the attack began. We also learnt more about Peruvian food as we were often invited to stay for lunch, which was made by the cook with assistance from the children and served in the classroom.  

The school has its own dog, that would meet us each morning

My Birthday

Last Day with the class :-(

Looking at what they had made in crafts

Cleaning up after lunch