Name: Ashley Armendariz
Nationality: United States
University: New Mexico State University
Degree: Psychology and Sociology
Languages spoken: Spanish and English (fluent)
Past travel experience: Newbie
Volunteer Abroad: Caring for orphans in Cusco, Peru
Duration: 8 weeks
Start month: June 2014
Claim to fame: Ashley is an after-school specialist at an elementary school where she helps the students with their homework.
Why did you decide to become a UBELONG Volunteer?
I studied abroad June 2013 to Spain, I thought that was a great experience but I wanted more. Once I came back I decided I wanted to volunteer somewhere in South America but didn’t know where. From the study abroad office at my university I was given a few other organizations to look at and be a part of. After researching those sites and the UBELONG site, I decided that UBELONG was a better fit for me. The reasonable price made it easier too.
What was your impact on your volunteer project?
My first language is Spanish, so communicating with the staff and the girls at my project was easier. The orphanage I was in is an all-girl orphanage, I noticed that what they wanted was affection and caring people around them. I was there to help with homework but they preferred for me to just sit with them or sing while they write. Many of the times they insisted on me drawing pictures, sharing stories, or when allowed by the staff, to play with them. The staff on the other hand wanted us, the volunteers, to help with homework more than to bond with them. This was tough because the girls wanted care rather than homework assistance. I helped with the laundry and with translating from those who didn’t speak Spanish.
What is your favorite memory?
I have many amazing memories that still make me laugh. Many of them have to do with the people I met at the volunteer house I was staying in. I was lucky enough to have an amazing and beautiful (inside and out) roommate for a month, Shevani. I turned 21 in Peru, I wasn’t expecting anything but Shevani, Brandon and Jan made my birthday a happy one. They got me chocolate cake, sang right at midnight, got me a piñata with candy inside, and took me out to dinner. The people I have met thanks to UBELONG have influenced my life for the better.
Tell me about somebody you met who impressed you?
One day at the orphanage, there was a young girl visiting her sisters (3) that were at the orphanage I was in. She was in another home since she was above the age range of the orphanage with her three sisters. She impressed me because although young, she knew and acknowledge her situation was tough but still kept a positive attitude on life. I can’t imagine my life without my parents help and care. She in my opinion is tough and brave.