The Karikuy Volunteer Program

I think I really baffled the minds of my friends and family and I’m sure I almost sent my mother into a comatose state when I told them I was moving to Peru on a whim back in December not knowing exactly what is was that I would be doing here. To be honest I really didn’t have a clue. I was dead set on immersing myself into another culture, but when it came down to choosing the “where” part, I did what any well-rounded, mature person would do and turned to the most reasonable solution; I pulled out my globe, spun it around with my eyes closed and pointed to my future country of residence. Needless to say, I think I lost their confidence in my not so planned plan somewhere between “Peru” and “let’s see what happens”. As it turns out however, finding a volunteer gig that doesn’t cost $1000/week (excluding airfare and meals) is pretty hard to come by these days. It wasn’t until I stumbled upon the volunteer writing placement with Karikuy tours that my summer months really started to take shape.

Initially when I had first signed on, I was drawn to the program’s flexibility in allowing its writers to report about any area of interest concerning Peruvian life and culture. Since I had plummeted myself into a journey of seeking the unknown, the opportunity to share my own personal experiences and new perspectives with the world seemed irresistible. With free time on weekends and with the flexibility that the program offers I’ve been able to visit all over from the sandy dunes of Ica, the eerie witch town of Cachiche, the icy blue Pastoruri glacier and rolling hills of Huaraz all the way to Marahuasi with its thousand stone faces and of course to the renowned gem that is Machu Pichu.

So what is a day in the life of a volunteer like here at the residence? Well for starters, we work on a very relaxed schedule which gives us the freedom to focus on our own areas of interest within the program whether that is researching for Perupedia, Karikuy’s online database of all things Peruvian or fundraising for the organization’s ongoing humanitarian projects the Kaikuy-Haugen Fund and Project Animu. Our days are always interceded with the most appetizing home cooked meals, which is probably the reason why I’m still here, and of course the delicious churros (which has inadvertently become our daily 5 o’clock ritual) is just too good to give up. No caramel filled churro at 5pm is unheard of in this house! On many a day, at the end of the day, you will probably find us in the city centre, hovering around the Plaza de Armas soaking up the hussle and bussle of city life or exploring some corner of the city that has yet to be discovered.

Having lived here at Karikuy’s Bed and Breakfast for more than 3 months now, it has become more and more apparent to me that this is no ordinary volunteer experience. I can say now that is has fuelled my interest in Peru as well as pursuing future opportunities within this beautiful country and although a new country always has its challenges, this program has challenged me and what I thought I knew about myself, the world and the people in it.

For more information on the Volunteer Program or about Karikuy in general please visit our website at www.karikuy.org. Thanks for reading!

Christina Baker

Having studied archaeological remains and ancient language for the past four years in Waterloo, Ontario, I have learned one thing…I don’t want to study old, dead things for the rest of my life. To read and write about the adventures and languages of old is fascinating and I am grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to learn about such things. However, although reporting on events of the ancient past can be rewarding I have always felt unfulfilled by the lack of immediate relevance it has to the present time. This has led me to volunteer with the Karikuy organization. Instead of reporting on past events as I have done throughout my BA in History, I’ve decided to give the present a try and write about the world I can see and experience around me. I look forward to meeting the people of Peru and sharing their stories and experiences as well as my own with others

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