Nick Fernald is a student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He is majoring in sociology and Spanish, and has volunteered at home with English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes. Nick has travelled to Italy, as well as throughout the US and Canada. In May he spent four weeks in the education projects as part of the Volunteer Abroad in Cusco. He proved to be a caring, energetic and hard working UBELONG volunteer, and we are thrilled to bring you his words here.
What motivated you to seek a volunteer opportunity in Cusco?
I chose to volunteer for a number of reasons. Mainly, I wanted to use my time productively over the summer. I found UBELONG and researched all of the programs that were available. I knew that I wanted to volunteer in an education program, as I plan on teaching at some point after I graduate from college. I also knew that I wanted to volunteer in a Spanish speaking country, which led me to Peru. Almost instantly, I was drawn to Cusco. I found it interesting that even though Cusco has become economically prosperous, many of the people that live there are in poverty. I wanted to experience and get to know the other side of Cusco that I wouldn’t ordinarily get to experience if I had been there as a tourist.
What kind of impact did you have on the project?
I volunteered at Humberto Luna, a school for children from first grade to sixth grade. Another volunteer and I would go from classroom to classroom and teach English to the students. Since there were over 700 students, each class only got English once a week. In the time I was there, the children were able to quickly learn basic English, including phrases such as “how are you?” I was amazed by the students ability to learn and I hope that they will continue to learn and improve their English in the future.
What are three pieces of advice you would give to future UBELONG volunteers heading to Cusco?
I would tell future UBELONG volunteers to first understand that it will be overwhelming at first. However, after the initial shock subsides, you will really enjoy your time in Cusco. Second, try to fully experience the culture of Cusco. My favorite expression I learned while in Cusco was “A donde fueres, haz lo que vieres.” Basically, while you’re there, try to experience life as the Peruvians do. You won’t regret it. And third, just have fun. Cusco is such an incredible place and you should take advantage of your time there.