Sitting here in my New York office is unsettling. You see, only days ago I was back in Peru running the organizations volunteer program. However with all the small problems and complications thrown at me, the program in the log run was a huge success.
The Karikuy Volunteer Program has come to an end for 2009 and I find myself back in the United States. Countless adventures has made me used to “movimiento” as Peruvians like to call it, this constant movement and accelerated lifestyle is now but a memory as I settle back into routine and office work. I find myself escaping the boredom of paperwork to reflect on our accomplishments and what the volunteer program meant to all who participated, including myself.
In 2009 the volunteer program was able to launch Perupedia which now has well over 3,000 articles. We were also able to launch original news with our journalism branch ” The Perupedia Post” and get exclusive interviews with artists, models and athletes. But perhaps most successful of all was the chance to give our volunteers a medium in which to describe what they were discovering during their time in Peru. The Karikuy Blog now features countless articles written by our volunteers and covering a wide range of subjects; from eating guinea pigs to dancing under fireworks, from eating the perfect cake to visiting turquoise lakes. I can’t thank these volunteers enough for their hard work, patience and dedication. It’s not easy traveling through Peru, it can be stressful if you don’t know how to deal with certain situations or don’t have someone to guide you. In light of it all you volunteers found the endurance to traverse large distances, climb 12,000 ft mountains, eat new food, and settle in to a rugged lifestyle which many would not find comfortable at all.
I congratulate all my volunteers on a job well done. I know each of you have left with new experiences learned, perhaps with a different view on life and a new direction. In the end the volunteer program is more then just a writing opportunity in a foreign country, more then trying to get the word out about Karikuy and Peru in general. It is about learning, and most importantly learning about yourself as a person, learning about your fears, your desires, your limits. I’ll admit that wasn’t my initial plan for the program, but now I wouldn’t have it any other way.
In short this isn’t your sheltered and pampered volunteer program, we really do drop you in the middle of Peruvian culture and help you assimilate. So much so that by the end of the program volunteers are calling other foreigners things such as tourists or even gringos. You know where all the good food is by the end of the program, where the main roads lead, where to get the best Churro in town. Lima becomes a second home to you and embraces you back with its vibrant cultural activities that are always a combi ride away.
At the moment I am busy planning for next years volunteer program which will begin in May of 2010. We are taking applications and will probably have 5 volunteers at a time staying at the Karikuy Bed & Breakfast. The program is limited so I would encourage anyone interested to put in their application well in advance. You can read what our volunteers had to say about the program here. Again thanks to all the volunteers who participated, you are more then welcome back, mi casa, tu casa!