Gabby Volunteer in Cuzco, Peru

My Favorite Memory: My favorite memory was probably teaching karate to the girls at the orphanage. They loved it so much and were so eager to learn that it made it really fun for me to teach them. I taught them basic karate kicks, punches, blocks, and safety. I brought karate kicking pads from home and the girls loved practicing on them. I remember one day when I arrived at the orphanage a few of the girls came running up to me and said “gabby, gabby, we want to practice more karate today!!” That just showed me how much they loved it. It felt good to share my skills with them and I was really able to connect with the girls through teaching karate. I’m also happy that they were able to learn how to protect themselves for the future.

I was surprised that…. About how safe and comfortable I felt in Cusco right away. I came very cautious and a little paranoid about certain things. I had read and heard stories about unsafe taxis and lots of pick pocketing and tourist scams. But I realized that although you have to be cautious and always on the look out- Cusco is a lot safer then people and even tour books say. I was never in an experience when I didn’t feel safe or comfortable.

The most difficult thing I experienced was…. Homesickness when I first arrived. I have been away from home before, but never on my own like I was here. After a few days of being in Cusco when the excitement died down I felt a little homesick one day when I was sick. But Maria Elena and the other volunteers helped me get through it and I felt better the next day!

Gabby Volunteer in Cuzco, Peru

My best received lesson… Was being prepared for anything and taking care of myself. I really learned how to live on my own and to do everything myself. Going to the ATM, taking a taxi by myself, taking care of myself when I’m sick, etc.. I know that these lessons will be very helpful to me in the future when I go to college and am on my own.

Tip for future volunteers…
Definitely come with an open mind! There were many things that I expected to happen, and many things that I was not expecting (but that turned out good)! Also be ready for a little culture shock and homesickness in the beginning. But you will get through it quickly and have a good time!

Personal Paragraph (Testimonial )
I had such an amazing time volunteering with ABV in Cusco Peru. To start out, I have fallen in love with Cusco and Peru. It is beautiful here, the people are amazing, and the culture is so interesting. I feel so comfortable here- I feel like it’s my home away from home. I have also met such amazing an interesting people. Of course all the other volunteers and Maria Elena are so great, but so are the people that work at the orphanage and the Spanish school. I really connected and got to know them all. They welcomed me in and made me feel very comfortable. Volunteering at the orphanage was a great experience. The girls are all amazing and I love them. I enjoyed not only teaching them karate, but playing volleyball and cards with them, helping them with their homework, painting their nails, and playing on the playground. I felt like I was really able to connect with them and hopefully made a difference in their lives. My Spanish lessons were also great- I loved my teacher Walter and I think my Spanish really improved. Overall my time volunteering here in Cusco has been amazing. It is one of the best experiences of my life and I’m so glad that I came.

Gabby Volunteer in Cuzco, Peru

How would you rate your experience working with the ABV staff, both in the USA, and in-country?

All the ABV staff that I worked with were amazing! The ABV staff in the USA were very helpful when I first planned my trip and answered all my questions very thoroughly. They also responded to emails very quickly which was awesome. My ABV coordinator in Cusco-Maria Elena was amazing! She made me feel comfortable right away and was extremely helpful and loving all of the time. I knew that I could go to her if I had a problem, and she always checked up on me to make sure everything was going good. I could tell that she really cares and loves her job working with ABV!

How would you describe your accommodation (ie: host family, on-site, shared housing etc)

My accommodations were great! I loved living with Maria Elena, she was a great host mother. My room was comfortable and I enjoyed sharing it with my roommate Heather. The food was also amazing. I’m a vegetarian and I was still able to enjoy the food and get all the nutrients I needed.

Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers? Yes I would love to! I had so many great experiences here that I would be happy to share them with potential ABV volunteers.

Gabby Volunteer in Cuzco, Peru

Gabby Volunteer in Cuzco, Peru

Volunteer Name: Gabby O’Leary
Project Location: Cuzco, Peru
Program Dates: July 15- August 10, 2012
Volunteered At: Hogar Orphanage

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