The love park in Miraflores, Lima
Lifehack to feel 100% comfortable in your new country: take a taxi from the airport to your hostel and you will be surprised that you’re still alive. Suddenly, you know how to appreciate the silence of your friends that are already sleeping and you try to forget the traffic outside. Taxi drivers seem to have unlimited access to an army of guardian angels and the constant use of their horn makes it all seem like an aggressive battle of who is the sneakiest. I’m convinced we were.
Welcome to Peru, hi Lima! A 10 Million city with contrasts I haven’t expected to be so outstanding. Not only the different quarters can be divided easily into richer and poorer regions or into more or less delinquency. Also houses next to each other can show a variety of standards ranging between recently modernised flats and vast ruins.
Apart from being welcomed in the Goethe Institut by our PASCH-coordinators, we also visited the quarters of Barrancos (an alternative one with amazing Peruvian food) and Miraflores (a very safe and nice one). Traditional cuisine such as ceviches (raw fish), anticuchos (pork’s hearts) or chicha morada (a juice made of corn) had to be tried and I personally became a huge fan. I also learned that being vegetarian is no problem here because you still can eat chicken. Obviously, chicken is not meat, so why bother?
Heading to Trujillo was a bit relieving for me because 1 Million people is a lot easier to handle. You won’t believe me but it feels very calm and familiar living here and people don’t necessarily treat you as the stranger from Europe you objectively are.
The first day was intensely chaotic because of my house being an entire mess but I luckily got help from the three other volunteers that already live here for some weeks. My bathroom is still under water and I haven’t dared yet to start cleaning the kitchen but I’m working on it.
The next days I’ll post an update about my work here and some first encounters and impressions so stay tuned!
„Everything is just a phase.“ Anna Veigl, head of kulturweit, tried to eliminate all our fears and doubts about our volunteering right away. This quote seems so negative, when it really isn’t. Temporary phases not only include bad times, but also great and unforgettable memories and I’m curious to experience a lot of them, especially the latter, soon!
The seminar is over now and the past two days thankfully gave me the chance to wipe away the worries and make room for excitement – 6 months in Trujillo! Whee!
Being on the plane makes looking back easy, it seems so natural that there’s only happiness when thinking about my voluntary stay. But that would be hypocritical. The last days, I realised that I have many open questions concerning basic human properties, society’s norms and values and also myself. I felt overwhelmed by the number and also the intense complexity of these questions that seemed so trivial. Why do humans discriminate others? Which stereotypes are acceptable as jokes or simplifications and which aren’t? How do I want to stay in contact with my friends all over the world? How might this interfere with my wish to live in the present and make the best of Peru?
I often asked myself whether I’m adequately prepared for my volunteering and discussed this with close friends. How am I supposed to teach children and organize projects if I haven’t made up my mind yet and don’t entirely understand most of the issues surrounding me?
After several hours of overthinking and discontent, I decided that it isn’t necessary to have the perfect answer to everything in life and also that this probably is even impossible. I prefer to keep seeking and like this constantly reflecting, even if it’s hard to accept that there might be neither right or wrong nor any final destination.
To end this philosophical excursion positively, I’d like to refer to the entry’s title. Travelling and volunteering is an open door that might close one day. I learned about this metaphor through a German science academy that included a ritual where the participants enter at the beginning and leave in the end through a wooden door to symbolise the academy’s frame. Volunteering is a similar door but with the tiny difference that it might never close entirely.
In order to organize my thoughts during the seminar, I prepared a summary of the most common forms of discrimination as a project:
If you spot any mistakes, disagree with any content or want to add something (there are missing references…), I’m very happy about comments!
„This is our war! Every help you offer only reinforces your white superiority which we’re about to fight!“ This sentence, quoted freely from the short documentary „Fuck white tears“ became a central topic during our preparation seminar here at the Werbellinsee near Berlin. All of us volunteers are brought together on this immense area to participate in various lectures and interactive workshops in order to be confronted with everything that probably will cross our way during our stay abroad. From teaching methods to the right handling of ethical issues we come together daily to gather new perspectives on topics that at the same time are omnipresent in today’s media but rarely are profoundly analyzed without a specific reason.
The seminar offers all kind of support and sensibilizes us for anything unfamiliar we will most definitely encounter in our new working spaces. A special focus is kept on our role as German volunteers in a country which usually is defined as politically and economically inferior. Instead of serving the prejudices of colonial continuity, our function as an ambassador in cultural exchange rather involves strengthening the international relationships by bilateral communication.
World peace – something unachievable if you believe South African students protesting against discriminating laws: „You always say there are other ways to solve conflicts, for example by talking. But we’ve experienced centuries of cruelty and oppression. Our only response that expresses our anger in an adequate way is violence.“ I personally don’t believe in that! Although I neither believe in utopian concepts, I’m strongly convinced that organizations such as kulturweit and their partners such as the Goethe Institute, PASCH and many more contribute significantly to get closer to our common vision of a world in harmony.
Although I still have 4 days left, I already had the chance to talk to an amazing amount of diverse people that allowed me insights into their personal ways of thinking. Visiting the city of Berlin led by a refugee, spending 24h a day in the middle of 330 dedicated people and speeches by the organisation team, trainers and politicians make me appreciate the program here a lot. I’m very thankful for this kind of preparation and I’m looking forward to the upcoming days!
They say I’m an adult now. In fact, I just turned 18 and there’s not much of a difference yet which I imagine to change soon. At least I already got dozens of letters reminding me that I’m now responsible for anything myself, including insurances, bank accounts and a lot more official matters. Even facebook messaged me: Some security settings have been removed so I had to adjust them again. Feels good to be 18.
But having celebrated my birthday also means that there’s not much time left for me at home! It sounds odd, but I subconsciously started counting the breakfasts I still have with my parents – not enough! I’ve never had issues leaving home, even for a longer period, but 6 months are a long time and I’ll spend them in a totally different world! Exciting and intimidating at the same time.
I’m glad to be able to share these thoughts soon in Berlin though. I’m sure I’ll find other people there with similar worries and expectations and I can’t wait to get to know them and eventually keep in touch with some to travel during my stay!
Heya my fellow people!
I’m Jenny and welcome to my blog! I’m glad you volunteered to read it. I decided to start this although I’m not totally sure yet whether I’ll be able to keep it up to date…I apologize in advance for any missing content!
A few words about myself first: I will turn 18 soon and just graduated high school last month. After having spent a month in Israel, I’m now looking forward to my upcoming 6 months in Trujillo/Peru where I’ll volunteer at the Instituto Max Planck. What exactly am I gonna do there? That’s something I still need to find out…
However, I’m very excited for my departure on 13 September, which is sooner than it seems due to the preparation seminar in Berlin right before it. Although we were told not to bring too much stuff for our stay (especially clothes), I feel like I should be well equipped, just in case. Apart from that, I just got my visa but other things want to be organized too.
So hopefully see you soon when I can talk a bit more about the seminar and the 300 people that I really look forward to get to know there!