Madison Volunteer Abroad in Cusco, Peru

My Favorite Memory: One night was the Quinseñera of 3 girls at the orphanage. All the girls got all dressed up and they literally looked like royalty. I got there and we all danced without abandon and sang our hearts out with the songs we knew. I looked like a total dork the majority of the night and the girls told me “bailas muy loca, Madison”, and we all laughed. I will never forget that night. It’s the best dance I’ve ever attended.

I was surprised that….
People were so friendly! They’re always willing to go the extra mile and are always wanting to help. That kind of behavior is in the culture and I just love it. I was also surprised how I came to love my volunteer friends, Maria Elena, and my host family. I’ve never met such wonderful people and I was so blessed to have known them, for even that short of a time.

The most difficult thing I experienced was….
Homesickness. It happens to everyone and you just have to fight through it. It comes in waves, though. Sometimes, you’ll want to cry because you miss home so much and others, you’ll dread going home because Cusco is so awesome. Ultimately, the experience will still be worthwhile, but nothing can be perfect.

Madison Volunteer Abroad in Cusco, Peru

My best received lesson…
I’ve learned to not care what people think. It’s easy and natural to worry about what others think of you, and before Peru I was so conscious of how I was thought of and how I portrayed myself to the public. Thankfully, Peru has taught me, above all, to be myself completely and not to care what others thought of me, because that’s not what’s important. In Peru, the girls at the center were the important things for me and they loved me because I was myself. I learned not to give a damn.

Tip for future volunteers… (Clothing, travel, personal items, donations,sightseeing etc)
You will get sick. At one time or another, you will get sick. So bring medicine for everything and make sure that when you get sick, you rest and cure yourself instead of brushing it off and going to work. Also, it’s freezing during the nights during winter in Cusco, so pack warm things and lots of pants. You’ll find that you’ll rarely wear shorts. And do Machu Picchu. Just do it. Finally, you can never have enough underwear and socks. Pack more of those than you think you’ll need.

Personal Paragraph (Testimonial):
My experience here changed my life. I know that’s cliche, but it’s true. For starters, I met so many incredible new people from all over the world. I realized how large this world really is and that there are so many interesting people out there. Then, the orphanage. I found love with the girls at the center. Seriously, by the time I left I saw many of them as my little sisters and it makes me sad to know that I left, but so happy to know that I was so blessed to meet them. There are no girls out there who are as sweet as these girls and the staff was so welcoming and helpful. I just adored my work there, which wasn’t really work at all, it seemed to me. I also made some amazing relationships and friendships with the other volunteers I worked with. We all were so united–it really felt like a family. Not everything was easy…there were certainly rough days at the orphanage and when I was sick, but if I could rate my experience with A Broader View, I would give it a 10 out of 10. And if I ever want to volunteer abroad again (and there’s a good chance I will) I will be doing it through A Broader View.

How would you rate your experience working with the ABV staff, both in the USA, and in-country?
The ABV staff in the USA was great. Sarah and Oliver were always so willing to answer questions and to find the best program possible for me. I wouldn’t be here without their help and guidance. In Cusco, Maria Elena was a Godsend. I mean, she was always trying to do the best for her volunteers and I always felt so loved, secure, and happy with Maria Elena. I couldn’t've had a better project director.

Madison Volunteer Abroad in Cusco, Peru

How would you describe your accommodation (ie: host family, on-site, shared housing etc)
Beatriz and Alphonso are the greatest host parents ever. They really cared about my well being and my happiness here and I will never be able to thank them enough for their kindness, consideration and of course their great cooking! I really felt like I was a part of a family in my house and I always felt safe and comfortable. I was very lucky to have them as parents, and they made this experience amazing.

Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers?
Absolutely. Before I came, I was very nervous and wanted to talk with somebody, but I was too scared. Don’t hesitate if you want to talk to someone and know that ABV is so fantastic, you have nothing to be worried about.

Madison Volunteer Abroad in Cusco, Peru

Madison Volunteer Abroad in Cusco, Peru

Volunteer Name: Madison Holland
Project Location: Cusco, Peru
Program Dates: 6/23/12 to 7/29/12
Volunteered At: El Hogar Orphanage

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