Alejandrina Farfan is the director of the school where UBELONG Volunteers serve in Cusco, Peru. From elementary to high school education, the school serves a disadvantaged community on the outskirts of the city. Recently, Alejandrina was interviewed by Marta Roman and Pablo Martin, young professionals from Spain who volunteered for one week and three weeks, respectively, in the elementary and middle school teaching project in Cusco, Peru. Marta and Pablo taught computing skills ―”it was one of the most challenging and fulfilling experiences of my life,” says Marta. “We interviewed Alejandrina because we wanted to share her words with other volunteers who are considering this project. There is a lot of need for international volunteers there and we want to inspire others to serve,” says Pablo.
We thank Marta and Pablo for this interview. They did a great job in Cusco and inspired the UBELONG community. We also thank Alejandrina for her example and the way she engages our volunteers in meaningful collaborative work. Here is the transcript of the conversation they had with Alejandrina.
From your perspective as a school director, how do you see the situation of the education sector in Peru?
The education system in Peru is in a difficult situation, mostly because there is a lack of funds to support school budgets. As a result, we have human resource problems ―a shortage of teachers and administrative staff. There is a lack of basic infrastructure in many schools, and other material resources such as books are also scarce in communities that need them the most. However, in my opinion, the situation is most dramatic because there are few prospects for improvement.
How does this situation affect your school in Cusco?
Our school has experienced lots of positive change in the past five years. We have received support from the regional government and NGOs, particularly in the area of infrastructure. For example, we now have a computer lab donated by a telecommunications company, which is helping us adapt to new ways of teaching and learning. We still face many challenges but we are happy about our progress and hopeful about the future.
What is the impact of international volunteers in the school?
International volunteers live up to our expectations. They provide enormous support to our school. Our students learn a lot from them. Volunteers widen our students’ worldview and motivate them to continue attending school. They are an inspiration to us.
What is the ideal profile of international volunteers for this school?
We are flexible. We welcome everybody who is willing to work hard to contribute to the education of our students. Our school provides primary and secondary education and we welcome support on different subjects at different levels. We’ve had international volunteers of every possible professional background. The diversity that volunteers bring has greatly enriched our classroom environment.