How are you? How much do you already know about children’s rights? How important are children’s rights to you?
With these questions, the Toupi group opened their workshop they specially prepared for the children learning German here in Peru. Fernando, Helen and Nora designed a half-day workshop full of information, action and fun where the students are supposed to learn everything about their rights and understand the importance of those. Think about it: How many would you know?
The workshop is conceptualised around the bird Toupi who is leading the students on a world trip where every country represents a particular right. To better visualise this tour, the Toupi group, easily recognisable by their professional shirts, created an individual and interactive passport where the students will receive a unique stamp after every trip.
Posters throughout the classroom such as the „word garage“ helped guide the students through the experience. Any question was answered immediately or remembered to be discussed later on. Every unit included a game that required group work, reflection skills and creativity such as moving a ping pong ball via wooden sticks that then formed a so-called pipeline.
Apart from this, the Toupi group also offers a similar workshop about democracy which they offered in other schools in Peru. They originally travel around Germany and Luxembourg and have now successfully brought their work to Peru, the country Fernando comes from, as well.
This intercultural exchange is probably the most important part of the workshop because it enables the children here in Peru to gain access to seemingly universal norms and values.
I personally helped out during the whole workshop and was impressed by the motivation and dedication of the Toupi group. Therefore I wanted to share this amazing project with you and if you’re interested, have a look on their Facebook page as well and maybe leave a like there!
C-c-c-c-cumbiaaaa! If the tremendous sound of music or traffic hasn’t kept you up all night, there still might be a chance that you couldn’t sleep because of the cold wind blowing everywhere in your house and room. Luckily, the second problem could be solved by fixing various holes with cleaning wipes. I can confirm it’s an improvement from 4 to only 2 required sheets every night!
Apart from the two days I entirely spent in my newly decorated room (yes, getting sick because your body firstly needs to adjust to the admittedly delicious Peruvian food sucks), I hardly come back home during the day. This is mostly because school ends late and there are various activities after. Getting to know other teachers and coordinators, visiting the beach of Huanchaco, signing up for local Taekwondo training and of course getting used to the public transport system take lots of time off the day. The streets are intensely crowded but the taxis, micros (small busses) and colectivos (something in between) are a surprisingly efficient and cheap way to get around in Trujillo. There are no official stops – just wave, get in, shout „Baja!“ and get off wherever you want. Micros and colectivos have their routes and every ride is only 1,50 Soles which is about 40 cents.
But lets talk a bit about school too. I only work at the Colegio Max Planck which is one of the most popular private schools in Trujillo. The grades are divided into Primaria (1-6) and Secundaria (7-11) and they already start teaching German in grade 4 (cuarto de primaria). There is only one German teacher (Miss Lizbeth) who just graduated from university and came to Max Planck recently. She doesn’t have much experience yet but is very motivated to make the best of it.
You need to know that school here is very different. In my case, the children will be running around and talking or even shouting the whole time during class which makes classical teaching as we know it impossible. Calming the students, no matter what age, takes up to 70% of the time. But you also need to consider that these children aren’t all little devils – they will try to talk to you about anything because they’re immensely curious and they will always hug you as a greeting or just casually too.
At the end of November, the German language exams take place (A1-B1) and on Saturdays preparation classes are held for that occasion. I’m genuinely interested how these are going to be and how the results will turn out!
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 hadn’t expected to be quite so prominent. Not only can the different quarters be easily divided into richer and poorer regions or into more or less delinquency. Also houses next to each other can show a variety of standards ranging from recently modernised flats to vast ruins.
Apart from being welcomed in the Goethe Institut by our PASCH-coordinators, we also visited Barrancos (an alternative quarter with amazing Peruvian food) and Miraflores (a very safe and nice quarter). 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 luckily I got help from the three other volunteers that have already been living here for some weeks. My bathroom is still under water and I haven’t yet dared 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!