Children at the elementary school in Cusco.

“It was a privilege of being guests to their culture.”


UBELONG Snapshot
Name: Linda Opiekun
Age: 66
Hometown: Annapolis, Maryland
Nationality: United States
Languages spoken: English, French (fluent), Spanish (beginner)
Occupation: Teacher at Anne Arundel County Public Schools
Volunteer Abroad: Elementary School Teaching in Cusco, Peru
Duration: 4 weeks
Start month: June 2018

Why did you decide to become a UBELONG Volunteer?
We received an e-mail announcing the opportunity to participate in the UBELONG volunteer program. Since this experience included visiting a part of the world I did not know and offered Spanish lessons, I immediately sent my request to be included.

What were your major challenges?
My major challenges were the cold indoor weather, the pollution from vehicle exhausts and the typical middle-school 6th grade behavior that I had to deal with when the teacher I was assisting left the classroom without letting me know and I had no idea when she would return.​

What is your favorite memory?
I have piles of favorite memories mostly associated with the beauty of Cusco and surrounding locations, the wonderful people we worked with, the privilege of being guests to their culture which included their language, festivals, food and education system. Personally, it was thrilling to see how the local people still connected to their ancient past in spite of the colonial period and the current modern tourist trade.

In a sentence or less, what did you think about the food?
We were provided with breakfast and lunch everyday which was perfect for me. I liked the bread, soups, rice with carne of the day and the eggs. For dinner the restaurants were amazingly affordable although some food caused some of us to get sick.

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Related post:
Meet Dorothea Pilz, from Germany who volunteered with UBELONG in the caregiving project in Cusco, Peru.