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Travel Confessions: Taylor Drew on Volunteering in Peru

Published June 15th, 2015

A lot of people probably wouldn’t think of Peru as the place to go after completing a university degree. Instead of heading out on a hedonistic holiday to South East Asia, Taylor Drew decided to take a self-sacrificing volunteer adventure to Peru, and she came back all the richer and all the wiser.

What inspired to volunteer overseas and why Peru?

I was inspired to go to Peru as I have always wanted to visit South America. I have a passion for helping others and travelling. This has been my third volunteer trip and I wanted to go somewhere that would take me completely out of my comfort zone and that would challenge me but allow me to help people, Peru seemed like the place that could help me achieve this.

Had you just finished school or study?

I had just completed my Bachelor degree in Health Science about two weeks before I left for my trip to Peru.

Was this your first time overseas?

I have been travelling overseas since the age of five, however South America is one of two continents I had not travelled to.

Was it difficult getting the paperwork and visas arranged?

A visa was not required if you are staying in Peru for less than 90 days. Paperwork is easy to obtain which includes travel insurance, which is definitely recommended for Peru.

Describe a typical day volunteering in Peru?

A typical day in Peru included breakfast at 8am, then heading to the school our team was working at, at about 9.30am. Team members would either be working on construction, teaching English, Art, Computer or Sport, or visiting the local community. We would usually finish volunteering about 1-1.30pm. After lunch team members either had a Spanish class or the afternoon was free to relax or enjoy time in the Cuzco city centre.

What new skills did you learn in your job?

On my volunteer trip I learned how to speak Spanish to community members, children and other local citizens. During my trip I also learned how to teach children proper hygiene methods in the local school and building fences.

What's your favourite memory from your time in Peru?

My favourite memory of my trip in Peru would be the last day at the local school our team worked at. The school was celebrating Christmas in Peru this is known as Feliz Navidad and there was a beautiful celebration full of plays, singing and dancing. At the end we were given local flowers and all the children in the school gave each group member hugs. It was such a sad day to say goodbye but the children and community members were so grateful for the work we had done. It was a day to remember.

What was the biggest challenge you faced during your trip?

Each day is different in Peru and you do not know what to expect. However one of the most challenging experiences was when the organisation took half of the group members to a house visit in the local community. The house was small and not very clean and the family had to live there. It was heartbreaking as they have so little in life but yet the smallest thing such as a box of food supplies made all the difference.

What's the best advice you can offer to someone wanting to travel to Peru to volunteer?

For anyone wanting to travel to Peru to volunteer it really is the experience of a lifetime. You meet so many new people and have the opportunity to enjoy a new culture. While some day’s maybe challenging, if you have an open mind and you enjoy making a difference, you will have the trip of a lifetime.

Rachel Surgeoner

A self-confessed 'food-tourist', I take hunting for the world's greatest sandwich very seriously, my quest has taken me from Berlin to Hoboken. Stopping off only for vintage shopping, craft beers and Mediterranean sunsets.