Thursday 1 March 2018

A Day in the Life of a Seeds of Hope Volunteer

 It’s eight o’clock in the morning, and your alarm sounds. You excitedly roll out of bed, anxious for the fun activities that await you today.

On the gas-powered stove, water is already boiled, and available for you to use in your morning tea or oatmeal. If you prefer a heartier breakfast, the kitchen is available for you to cook eggs, or anything else that your stomach desires. Outside of the apartment, the street vendors are setting up their carts for the day, but you can purchase a glass of quinoa porridge, or a slice of peeled fruit for S/. 1 (less than 50¢ USD) before their supplies dwindle.

At 8:50am, the volunteers leave the volunteer apartment to begin the ten-minute stroll to the center. If you choose to sleep late, you can purchase an egg sandwich (or a slice of peeled fruit) on the way to the school for S/. 1 (less than 50¢ USD).

Upon arriving at the school, you will help arrange the classrooms in preparation for the day’s lesson (or homework help). Older students will trickle in one by one, and attempt to engage you in tournaments of UNO! in a valiant attempt to distract you from the academic advances that are planned for the day. After roughly thirty minutes of recreo (during which the students arrive), students go to their assigned classroom, where you will either help students with their homework, or provide extra help for subjects such as reading or mathematics. Two hours of homework help (or additional practice) will fly by, and soon enough, it will be recreo time once more!

Following this period of recreo, students will wash their hands, pray a short prayer (remember, Peru is a Catholic country), and then you will distribute a nutritious meal. After consuming their snack, the students will brush their teeth, and help clean up the school before departing for the day.  

By the time that every student has left the school, it is noon-thirty, and your stomach is growling. While walking back to the volunteer apartment, you can purchase a small serving street food to tide over your stomach until you can either round up another volunteer to accompany you to lunch at the market, or until you can prepare a sandwich or something else easy for lunch. In Peru, lunch is considered the most important meal of the day. Many restaurants (and market stands) will offer a fixed two or three course menu for S/. 5 to S/. 7 (around $2 USD). Once your stomach is satisfied, you will have about an hour of free time to check social media, read, update your blog, or whatever other activities you enjoy. Some volunteers choose to go to the gym; others prefer to wander around the city in search of the perfect photograph; still others elect to go shopping for dinner supplies (or purchase souvenirs at the local artisan market).

Upon conclusion of free time around 2:45pm, it is time to walk to the school once more. This ten minute walk is accomplished rather quickly, which is a good thing, as several younger students are already waiting for you at the entrance to the building! Upon unlocking the door, the children will once more engage you in card games, followed by homework help and supplemental lessons, then recreo. This group of children is more rambunctious than the morning group; however, their energy is infectious! Despite any communication issues that stem from speaking different languages, volunteers frequently report smiling so much that their face hurts!

After serving a nutritious meal to this group of younger students, the evening will be yours to spend as you please. Generally speaking, the volunteers leave the school around 6:15pm, and return to the volunteer apartment to cook dinner (or frequent one of the local gringo hangouts for dinner). We recommend that you get a good night’s sleep, because tomorrow, you get to do it all over again!

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