Name: Kelsey Beuning
Hometown: Eau Claire
Nationality: United States
University: University of Wisconsin-Madison
Degree: Strategic Communications and International Studies
Languages spoken: English, German (fluent), Spanish (beginner)
Past travel experience: Avid
Volunteer Abroad: Assisting at an After-School Center in Cusco, Peru
Duration: 2 weeks
Start month: January 2015
Claim to fame: Is the Strategic Marketing Assistant at Wisconsin Union
Why did you decide to become a UBELONG Volunteer?
I wanted to travel outside the country – but wanted to do so in a way that I was not just another tourist, but someone having a positive impact. UBELONG was recommended by my school organization (Alt Breaks) and a friend (Jake Heyka), and seemed like the best way that I could do that.
What was your impact on your volunteer project?
During our time in Cusco, we refurbished an after-school center and worked with local children. While working with the children was definitely my favorite part – they were so unbelievably happy, curious and positive, I was also glad we were able to help with the construction project. I was one of three students who painted a mural on one side of the center, and it is amazing for me to think that there will be children who can look at our work and have it brighten the room long after we’ve left.
What were your major challenges?
The language barrier was absolutely the biggest challenge. My Spanish was mediocre at best, and especially when working with children, it’s very hard to keep up. The amount that I was able to improve in just two weeks, however, was unbelievable.
In a sentence or less, how would you describe the locals you met?
Friendly and welcoming. Everyone at the volunteer house, site or even around the city was positive and happy. As someone originally from a variety of large cities, the open-ness and friendliness was both astonishing and wonderful.