In addition to offering volunteer trips, UBELONG can work with you to customize trips with a social mission. If you’re interested in creating a trip like the one presented below, contact us and let’s talk!
Name: Benjamin Healy
Hometown: Cornish, New Hampshire
Nationality: United States
High School: Hartford High School
Languages spoken: English, Spanish (beginner)
Past travel experience: Moderate
Volunteer Abroad: Teaching and Caring for Children and Young Adults in Cusco, Peru
Start month: November 2016
Claim to fame: Ben loves doing new things and going out of his comfort zone. He enjoys the feel of accomplishment, pride and amazement he gets after doing something great. UBELONGers are the best, thanks for your service, Ben!
What is your favorite memory?
My favorite memory of my entire experience in Peru was one evening when our group walked around and picked up trash from a small community up in the hills of Cusco called Tankarpata. During our time in Cusco, we would head over to an afterschool program in Tankarpata every evening to interact with the kids and help run the activities. One day, we came up with the idea of walking around the surrounding community with the children and picking up trash along the way. Before the activity, we split into three groups of children and volunteers to create a small competition as to which group would pick up the most trash. Within my group, I paired up with a very young boy named Luciano. Together, we ran around the community, grabbing every bit of trash we came across. He would hop across streams, dive face first into the grass, and dig through the dirt, laughing the whole time. As we each picked up a piece of trash, we would yell to each other in excitement and exchange a quick high five before running onward.
Before long, Luciano and I had filled up an entire trash bag and began stuffing a second one. When the activity was over I turned to walk back, hauling two stretched and overflowing trash bags. As I started, I looked down to find that Luciano was still running around and grabbing as much trash as he could in these last few seconds. As I neared the project building, Luciano ran up to me, cradling a heap trash with his two arms. As I took the last of the trash from him and stuffed it into a trash bag, he beamed up at me with an unforgettable, heartwarming smile.
What did you take from the experience?
The biggest lesson I took from my UBELONG experience in Peru was that happiness can be found in anybody and anywhere. You don’t need to be living a certain type of lifestyle to find true happiness. In Peru, I met all kinds of new and interesting people from different walks of life. I found that my conversations with these locals included a lot more laughter and smiling than I was used to. They were just happy to be up and about and spending time with other people. The idea that I took from all of this is that a positive outlook and an appreciation for the simple things in life can reinvent the way that you live and bring you so much happiness.
Tell me about somebody you met who impressed you?
In my travel to Peru, I was most impressed by the fifth grade class I worked with for a week. Talking with these kids made up some of the best parts of the day. These kids were smart and understanding while still holding a certain curiosity about world. During class, kids would come up to me to, asking me to translate phrases, describe my life in the United States, or sign my name in their notebook. Often times, I would respond and ask them something about their lives and they would become very excited, spending several minutes describing that aspect of their life. It was clear that the simple thought of exchanging ideas with someone from another part of the world was fascinating to them. In a world where racism and exclusion stand as some of the world’s most prevalent issues, it was inspiring and reassuring to see this.
In a sentence or less, how would you sum up your experience?
My UBELONG experience in Peru changed my outlook on everything around me and made me think about what I want to do with the rest of my life.