Volunteer Name: Micaela Canales
Project Location: Cusco, Peru
Volunteered at: Preschool and Safe House
1- How was the local ABV Coordinator/staff and the support provided in-country?
The ABV coordinator provided support in country was fabulous! Maria Elena was very helpful and prompt in answering questions and giving advice about the city and general life in Cusco. She even came with me when I needed to get a haircut. She truly welcomed everyone into her home!
2- What was the most surprising thing you experienced?
Program: Doing a survey about my experience and my coordinator before I depart from the program and while I am still dependent on my coordinator.
Host Family: My grandma is 87 years old and still does everything!
Country: There are stray street dogs all over Cusco.
There is no toilet paper in many places
ABV: we ask for the survey just prior leaving the country because volunteers don't do it once they are back home. And we loose this important aspect of the program.
3- What was the most challenging thing you experienced?
Program: Adjusting to a new language.
Flying alone from the United States to Peru.
Host Family: Eating enough food to satisfy my host Grandma.
Being cold all of the time because there is no heating.
Country: Being cold all of the time because there is no heating.
4- Any tips for future volunteers…
Budget money for “toiletry items” like liquid soap and toilet paper.
Bring extra everything! ABV says that many people “never wish they had packed more” –this was not the case for me. I wish I had brought more general household items like a thermos for hot water to wash my face, More thank one water bottle, and extra chargers for my electronics.
Snacks! All the snacks!
ABV: you can buy all the toiletry in Cusco, no need to bring them from home. In the orientation guide it says these things are not provided and available to buy in Cusco. And if you go to the local supermarket at the mall you can find many snack you have in the US.
5.1-Other things volunteers should know before coming here:
(thats not in the orientation guide)
a. Things are not go with the flow –you will have very little time during the week to run errands and take care of yourself because you will be running on a tight schedule.
b. Bring lots of personal care items like soap and house shoes
c. The air is very dry and at times difficult to breathe because of the elevation.
d. There is no toilet paper at the preschool or in many stores.
6- Personal Paragraph about the experience (ABV Program Testimonial):
I LOVED my experience in Peru! It was really the people in Peru, including my host family and fellow volunteers, that made my experience. We all get along so well its magical! I have had an amazing time exploring Cusco with them and learning about the public services in the city. If I could I would do it all over again and I would do it with ABV. ABVs design allowed me to personalize my experience so that I could go where and when I wanted to go and I could volunteer in a place that was perfect for me. ABV and Peru were truly magical!
7- How would you describe your accommodation, meals, security, friendliness, quality others:
My accommodation was very nice with the exception of cleanliness. I do not feel as though I got what I paid for in terms of meals because I was not able to eat the breakfasts and dinners my family provided me. However, I also did not feel comfortable asking them to buy special breakfast and dinner items just for me to eat.
ABV: you are in Cusco to immerse yourself in the culture, meals and the host families, you could have ask the family to do some changes if needed.
8- What was your favorite memory of this trip?:
Program: When my preschoolers remember the English songs and words I have taught them.
When all of the volunteers got together to play cards at Maria Elena’s house.
Host Family: When my Mom made me ramen after I got back late from a hike.
When Grandma watches soccer and cheers for the entire house to hear.
Country: Seeing the sun rise over Machu Picchu.
Learning and practicing Spanish.
9- How was the ABV USA support prior traveling?
Sarah helped me and she was great! I got answers almost immediately, even the Sunday before I left when I was panicking. I got all of my answers promptly. Thank you ABV!
9.1- What do you think about the reservation system online?
It was easy to use and convenient. I appreciated it. I only wish that the website gave me an estimate for how long it would take to approve my flights and passport etc.
ABV: Every step on the application is manually checked and it's done between 12-24 hours in business days. The passport and fight steps will not delay your application, you can move on to the next steps.
9.2- Who did you find Abroaderview website
My university recommended I use ABV and I read reviews of ABV online. Other websites had good reviews of ABV.
10 – Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers?