As part of my goal to make the most out of my college summers, I went to Colorado last summer to serve in AmeriCorps for the Rocky Mountain Conservancy, and for this summer, I decided that I wanted to go abroad. I had considered studying abroad for a long time, but I realized that I wanted my experience to be more than about myself. As such, I have applied for and been accepted to a service abroad organization called IVHQ. Traveling solo, I will be in the Peru- Cusco program, working on the Jungle Conservation and Teaching English projects for 3 weeks each, making for an experience length of about 1 and a half months. And if you care to keep up with the journey, I will be maintaining a blog from beginning to end!
^From my AmeriCorps crew's last day on trail in the Arapaho National Forest, when we hiked up to Devil's Thumb
My goal of $1,390 covers the program fee, which includes 24/7 in-country support, meals and housing, airport pickup, and program orientation. Any additional funds received would be used for airfare, passport, training, vaccinations, lunches (as lunch is not always provided), and other trip-related expenses. The project begins on June 1, and the program fee is due 30 days prior (May 2).
^Alternative Break trip to a permaculture farm in North Carolina, where we learned about natural building
MEANINGFUL EXPERIENCE, MEANINGFUL SERVICE
This trip means so much to me, as I have always wanted to travel and experience cultures and countries I've never experienced before. This trip would also help to prepare me for Peace Corps, which I hope to join upon graduation. And if you're like me, you may be concerned about the the true benefit of this service to the community. I, too, was concerned about taking part in voluntourism, but IVHQ works with the local communities to identify their needs and how volunteers can best be of service. Volunteers work and learn alongside community members throughout their experience so their activities are of benefit to the community. IVHQ strives to "operate responsibly and to make a lasting positive contribution to communities."
You may be wondering exactly what it is that I would be doing during this time. For the Jungle Conservation project, there are 2 different sites, so which site I'm placed at would determine what exactly I'd be doing. Essentially, though, I would be stationed around the Manu Biological Reserve or in the Madre de Dios region and activities can include trail maintenance, planting/re-introduction of native species and reforestation,
inventory and observation of wildlife, seed collection, seedling
propagation, providing education and conducting workshops for local
communities, and/or organic gardening
. After 3 weeks of this project, I will then be heading closer in to Cusco, where I will be serving in local schools, community centers, and rehabilitation centers. While activities vary, generally I will be providing tutoring to local students, setting up small workshops,
assisting local teachers, and organizing educational games and
^Volunteering with We-Teach at the Tallahassee Science Festival to get kids interested in science
Finally, I want to just give a HUGE THANK YOU for even considering donating to this journey. I truly appreciate you so very much!
^Sunrise photo of St. George Island because beaches are beautiful