When you choose to move to another continent for a long duration, for a volunteering project, before you leave, there is a question that constantly accompanies you every morning: Am I doing the right thing? And even if the improvised answers are good in terms of logics, you will never get an answer until you get to the place where you’ve sent yourself to.
Then the seventh of January arrived, the day of departure for Peru, destination Huamachuco, 3100 meters in the central Peruvians Andes. I left the rainy winter of Milan and went directly into the hot South American summer. After 3 days of traveling I arrived. And the project starts.
The host association is the “Proyecto Amigo de la Casa Marcelino Pan y Vino”, a Peruvian non-profit organization engaged on several fronts. From education to the poor, defense of the environment through advocacy campaigns for the formalization of illegal mines and much more. My duties concern in fact non-formal education, advocacy and communication.
As I have already said, I’m almost at my second month of volunteering and I can take stock of the first and extremely positive accomplishments.
My typical day is from 8 to 18; if I do not have to hold any math classes with children aged 7 to 12 years, I’m working on other projects. In this moment we are starting a research on the condition of working children and adult miners, a reportage on the environment and working in support of the marketing of the NGO are some of my current activities. Exciting, engaging and please give me a dictionary to find other adjectives. I feel to be part of a concept, a philosophy, something that is giving you technical skills but also new human qualities. Actually, I did not expect a breathtaking experience like this. I mean, certainly I thought it was an interesting and challenging project, but I had never thought it could involve me so deeply in my personal passions. We are currently in three: I work with an Italian colleague and a Romanian one. We work together on many things, in a constant and continuative way. Teamwork is always a growing experience. Of course, not everything is simple: working as an educator for children is a task that tests you every day and taking the first steps in this field was not easy. Now after some initial weeks I can say that I have a system with my students, with the support of local educators, always willing to give suggestions. I hope that this experience will enrich me in terms of skills but already in terms of human aspects. As for the Peruvian context, being Italian, and southern too, I can say that even if it is a new context, surely rigid, distances are not unreachable. Society, customs, relational schemes, certainly different, often substantially, then do not seem so strange. Maybe because of the spirit that these people always carry with them, or just because it is curious to discover aspects of a new culture.
In my opinion, an EVS, or in general, a volunteer project is recommendable to anyone. You will make new experiences, get to know new people, and also you will better know yourself as well. You learn a new language and will work in an international context. All things that make good to the human spirit but also to your CV, which nowadays is always better to keep up with the current challenges required. Quit the squalid office, envious colleagues, trams, metro, hypermarkets and the false newspapers, and you go travelling around the world!
Italo Angelo Petrone