Students Reflect on Their Service Experiences in Peru

Learn more about the Service Learning and Language Immersion Program in Peru, co-sponsored by the Center for Civic Engagement, the Master’s of Public Administration Department in the College of Community and Public Affairs, and the Office of International Programs.

Make sure to stay connected with us on Facebook, Twitter and our blog to learn about projects, programs and other opportunities to get engaged and make a difference.  

Corazoñ de Dahlia

Corazon de Dahlia is an organization which collaborates with Peruvian communities to provide children and families with opportunities for social and academic enrichment, emphasizing respect for the people and land around them. Binghamton University students spent three-days teaching, playing, and making friends with children at Corazon de Dahlia’s after school program for underprivileged youth located in Saylla. To learn more about the Student Association chartered Corazon de Dahlia student group, contact them at: corazondedahlia@binghamtonsa.org 

“Something that truly surprised me was the distance that a lot of the children traveled to get there. Many traveled about an hour walking. That showed how committed the children were to being there…The experience at this organization was truly amazing and it seems that they are truly making a difference in these children's lives.” - Grisel Nodarse
“I most enjoyed just playing with the kids--fútbol, coloring, and reading books. The kids seemed so excited to read, it was great. All of them loved it; it wasn't a chore to them, they honestly loved it. Hopefully I can bring some of that love for education back with me to the States.” - Victoria Anderson
"The children were extremely polite and many of them greeted us with a hug and a kiss on the cheek.” - Emilia Souza

“I was very impressed with the structure of the after school program. They had set days and times for everything and it seemed to work very well for them. The kids were all well-mannered and showed a lot of respect for their teachers. I could tell that the program meant a lot to not only the kids, but the teachers as well. They clearly had very pure intentions and enjoyed helping the children.” - Bridget Baker

“The last day proved that a lot can be accomplished in a short period of time. Many of the children showed their gratitude by making short speeches, playing instruments, and singing for us. The children may not remember us a long time from now, but we definitely made them happy while we were there and that is something we can take with us.”  - Emma Lecarie

El Comedor

Binghamton University students re-built a community kitchen!

It was really exciting to tear down the old kitchen and be able to start from scratch and rebuild for Maria and the other women who work there...The people were extremely welcoming and were so thankful for the work that we did for them.” - Emma Lecarie
“I found the experience rewarding because not only were we helping them, but they were teaching us. That sort of relationship creates more of a partnership and is what I think service learning and volunteering is all about.” - Bridget Baker
“…When our Binghamton group arrived at the site, I noticed all of the workers at ‘el comedor’ were women. I was even more surprised when I witnessed all the construction work done on the kitchen performed by women!...I would like to see how these women progress in the future and examine the positive effects their efforts have on the community.” - Mary Rood

“Doña Maria and the rest of the ladies were extremely inspiring, they were all very self sufficient and independent, which they pushed us to be as well...The experience here was one that I will cherish for a lifetime, I learned so much from the ladies and I hope that we were able to truly help them.” - Grisel Nodarse

“Throughout the project, what really stood out was the community unity and togetherness, and willingness to help. This small comedor was such a huge contribution to so many families' lives- as they may now be able to afford a large meal for their families at a bare minimum price. I also enjoyed our group's collaboration with the Peruvians during the work days.”-  Alexandra M Danyluk

“It was empowering to see the organization since it is entirely women-led and it is being effective in the community. Being there was amazing because we were able to accomplish a lot and get a glimpse of Peru from a different perspective than just walking around Cusco or from Corazoñ de Dahlia. Every day they offered us food, so we were able to experience firsthand the work they were doing...I am really proud of the work we did because it was very tangible and we could tell we were a help to them. - Christina Rose

Abre Puertas

Abre Puertas is an American-run organizations, which was created to give children a place to receive support and help after school. 

“I thought it was awesome to see an American woman come to such a small area like Qoya and really reach out and help the kids of the community. I could tell how much the project meant to her, especially because she does not even get paid to do it. Just knowing she is making a difference in their lives is the only reward she receives, but that is enough for her, and that is so amazing.” -  Bridget Baker

“What amazed me about Abre Puertas is that the parents do not have to sign their children up, but rather many of the children decide to come on their own. This definitely portrays the type of children that live in the community.” - Emma Lecarie

“The kids are great, but I can see how much work it is for Ellyn. Those kids adore the center and Ellyn is so enthusiastic for them to have a space they can call their own, it’s so inspiring. It started making me wonder about starting up a center somewhere abroad. I wonder if I have the stamina to take on such a huge task.”- Victoria Anderson
“From the offset, Abre Puertas truly did hold their doors wide open for us…This young organization seems to be growing every day, and I really hope that the new teen hangout room we have created will have a positive impact. I also hope that in the future, as Ellen envisions, the organization will spread to places outside of Coya, giving kids all over the chance to partake in such a wonderful and empowering environment.” -Alexandra Danyluk

“I got to read to a girl who had learning disabilities and draw pictures for her to color. We also got to play games and do puzzles with the kids. Besides playing with the kids we were able to get a lot of work done to help...It was a lot of fun being there and helping the kids accomplish something beautiful that they can point to and say they worked for. Abre Puertas is wonderful because we could really see how the kids were being empowered and gaining confidence in themselves and their abilities. I personally hope this organization continues to grow and show more children and communities what they can become.” - Christina Rose


Curious about the Differences between the United States and Peru? Take a Look at those Amazing & Inspiring Stories from Students in the Service-Learning Program Peru!

Enjoy some student ruminations on the similarities and differences between American and Peruvian culture, below. 

Stay tuned for more on students’ service projects in Cusco and Saylla while on the Service Learning and Language Immersion Program in Peru. Check back here, on Facebook & Twitter :) frequently. 

“One of the most surprising things thus far is probably the difference between Cusco/Peru as a whole and the United States in regards to national pride. In Cusco, there is a sense of pride that every citizen has of their city. Everyone here knows the true unfiltered history of Cusco and celebrates it…the most graphic aspects are shown in statues and massive murals on the street. Peru was a conquered nation for so much of its history and I almost expected Peruvians to just gloss over their conquered past and only focus on the present. It is so refreshing to see such genuine national pride." - Amanda L Blachorsky  

“There are numerous occurrences that surprise me every day. From staying with a host family and conversing with other Cuscanians, I have learned that this society is much more relaxed than the one I know of in New York. People are usually in no hurry to get things done or to get to places. The first day we learned to follow Peruvian time, which is not just an hour behind New York time, it´s where individuals arrive ten to fifteen minutes later than the agreed upon time. Instead of arriving early to events and meetings like we do in United States, these events will just begin a little later than the said time.”  - Kenneth P Seagren

“My home stay and Quechua language classes have been two aspects of the trip that have pleasantly surprised me. While I knew I would be spending lots of time in my home stay, I did not anticipate it feeling so much like a ‘home away from home’ so fast. Further, the Quechua language is challenging and sophisticated and learning it provides insight into the culture of the area and its people.” - Lisbeth D Pereyra

“Upon coming here I was aware that Cuzco was a highly populated tourist area, but the amount of tourist attractions that I have seen is unreal. Almost every ten feet you can find someone selling something in hopes that an unsuspecting tourist will bite. It can be annoying after a while, but it is great to see how much tourists are helping people make money here. It's also nice how easy it is to find some cheap deals on gifts. In Peru there is a larger emphasis on family and togetherness, and a really large sense of cultural pride...Overall my stay here has been so exciting and different, but in a good way. I feel as though I have so much to learn from the people here.” - Bridget M Baker

“The city itself has such rich character. My favorite part about it is its artistic nature--from viewing murals everywhere, to handmade crafts sold on the streets, the relaxed feeling of the city, to beggars knife juggling in the middle of the street. I always find myself comparing Cusco with the United States, and it has given me a better understanding of the different effects that the law and culture have on society. This experience has broadened my view and further enhanced my desire to travel the world. This experience has also boosted my will to learn Spanish. I plan to continue practicing after the trip is over." - Victoria K Lewis


Volunteerism and Cross-Cultural Exchange: Resources on How Volunteering Abroad Can Benefit You & Many Communities Worldwide

Enjoy volunteering and giving back to your community? Always wanted to travel the world to meet new people and learn about different cultures? It's now easy to combine the two. Volunteering abroad has been around for many decades and has benefited its participants by broadening their worldviews and giving them opportunities for personal and professional growth. Here we provide a few useful resources on how to get started, how to fund-raise, and how to gain the most of your experience.

The organizations below provide information, connect prospective volunteers with current participants, and can help generally oversee your travel and service experience.

Cross-Cultural Solutions  provides great resources about ways you can volunteer internationally, benefitting yourself, local communities around the world, and even your home country.  It's a non-profit organization with a staff of 300 people in 10 countries around the world. Potential volunteer destinations include Tanzania, Thailand, South Africa, Costa Rica, India, Brazil and Ghana, among others. Volunteer activities can range from teaching in local high schools to improving healthcare access.

Go Oversees has an array of options, including teaching, studying, interning, or working abroad. They provide options for high school and college students, recent graduates taking a gap year, and professionals. Their website has guides on how to learn about different cultures, what to expect during your first volunteering experience, and how to travel safely. Make sure to check out the scholarships that they provide for their participants.
Projects Abroad allows you to choose from hundreds of projects worldwide. Their placements include teaching, orphanage & care volunteer, conservation & the environment, medicine & healthcare, journalism, law & human rights, and business in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe or Latin America. Founded in 1992, they send 10,000 people abroad each year. As safety is one of their chief concerns, they provide staff and support systems in all areas and countries where their volunteers operate.

Many organizations also sponsor and provide scholarships for international volunteers. Volunteer Forever lists 200 grants and scholarships that you could apply for in order to provide support for travel expenses. You can also fund-raise yourself on GoFundMe.  

International volunteering can provide life-long memories, expand your depth of understanding about other cultures and your own, improve your social and professional life, and make a difference in many communities around the world! Read about the experiences of Binghamton University students currently abroad in check out our blog about students' experiences in Peru through the Service Learning and Language Immersion Program in Peru :)