December 2013 Volunteer of the Month

Katie Fennel

The time I spent volunteering in Cusco, Peru with Global Aware is something that shall forever be engrained in my memory as an unbelievably beautiful and eye opening experience. I was given the chance to understand a culture so very different from my own.  I arrived at the Cusco airport slightly hesitant as I suddenly realized I had arrived in a country where I knew no one, nor spoke the language, but my worries quickly diminished as soon as I met Rocio at the Albergue. She greeted me with warmth and friendliness. At that point I knew I was in for an amazing trip and I decided to jump in whole heartedly. Getting to know the children was an experience that will forever be one of a kind. Bonding over soccer, volleyball, and schoolwork made me realize that verbal communication is simply just one in the vast variety of aspects in which we find it possible to connect with others. We lived in entirely different worlds, yet we shared so much in common.

I enjoyed the opportunity to help construct a new classroom for the students. Climbing up high on beams to stick plaster to the ceiling and digging out holes for the electrical components. I loved learning Spanish from the same kids who I was trying to teach English to, and I came to understand that they had just has much to teach me as I had to teach them, if not more. I will never forget dancing around with the girls as if we knew the same songs and dances, and exchanging smiles over dinner at the end of a full day. Laughing hysterically with the kids over jokes and tasks gone hilariously wrong. I remember so vividly having the toughest time saying goodbye to my new friends at the Albergue, which I had been pleased to call home for my duration in Cusco. I hope to return someday and reconnect with the same smiling faces who became my friends that summer.

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