Community Education - Volunteer Reviews

PERU

Read what our volunteers say about their time volunteering

Find out more about the Community Education project

Kamaldeep – 2017

“Huaraz is a beautiful and safe city. The volunteering apartment is in a great location fitted with a 40ins Plasma TV and Netflix. A great communal area and shared open plan kitchen makes it a wonderfully social place to live. The project Seeds of Hope is a short beautiful 10 minutes walk from the apartment.

The project itself is very rewarding, with helping the children and lots of opportunities to play sports. Yuri the Director of the project has fantastic knolwegde of the area and is really helpful as is the overseas coordinator. A brilliant overall experience......I wish I could have stayed longer!!

What did you find most rewarding?
Amazing working with the children. I found this the most rewarding aspect, seeing the progress in the children.
What did you find most challenging?
The language barrier was the most challenging aspect.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
Learn as much Spanish as you can. Nights can be cold, so bring layers.

Were there any parts of the placement which you would like to see changed?
I would have liked to have more structured activities to educate the children when the schools are on strike.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
I had volunteered with POD in Nepal a few years ago and found them really helpful, professional and great communication.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”

Summer - 2017

“Volunteering was the best experience I have had. I stayed for 3 and a half months and wish that there was a way I could stay for longer. Teaching the kids is so rewarding and all the Peruvian volunteers at the school are very welcoming. I have gotten close with all the other volunteers in the apartment and have plans to see some of them again. I was the youngest here (19) and the oldest volunteer here now is 33 and is from Australia. Huaraz is a beautiful place with hikes, nice weather, and friendly people. We even have a restaurant that supplies the volunteers with free filtered drinking water.

I had lived in Spain for half a year and had taken Spanish before I got here. This definitely helped especially when helping the older kids at school with their homework. My Spanish has improved a lot and I feel very confident speaking now. There is a teacher who is a friend of the director who offers Spanish lessons at the apartment once a week if you wish to take them.

There is a lot of freedom at school to teach the kids something different or do an art project with them when they finish their homework. I started out working with the youngest ones (ages 6-9) but got close with all of the kids over time.

They are very polite and welcoming which makes arriving easier. I have already made plans to return next summer and volunteer again. Coming here and being with these kids is a decision you won't regret.

What did you find most rewarding?
Helping the kids with their homework when they don't understand it.

What did you find most challenging?
The hikes! (In a good way) Also adjusting to the altitude.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
Take at least a little Spanish before you come. Also if you want to bring something for the kids great things to bring are toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, Spanish books, toys, educational games, decks of cards, UNO, board games, a ball, pencils, notebooks, pens, whiteout, erasers, pencil sharpeners, and art supplies.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
Looked very honest and reliable with lots of interesting projects.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes

Thank you Gemma for being so helpful!”

Jonathan - 2017

"Hello everyone! I am currently volunteering with the Pod Community Education project. I have been here since November and I leave in April. This project really has been and still is a really humbling and enlightening experience; immersing oneself in another culture is fantastic. It is so rewarding watching kids in poverty progress through education and the connections you make with the kids are most definitely the highlight for me. This project is a great way to improve your Spanish, I arrived with minimal Spanish oral and written skills in November and I have improved dramatically since then. The Peruvian Volunteers are great, as is Yuri, the Director. I do recommend if possible coming for 2 months or more because the bond you make with the children increases the longer you stay. I came as a Volunteer and I am now Temporarily the International Coordinator so you never know what may happen!

What did you find most rewarding?
Getting to know the children.

What did you find most challenging?
It can be a bit daunting at first.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
Just go for it!!

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
A highly regarded and respected organisation.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes

Sarah - 2016

“I was keen to spend my summer holidays doing something genuinely useful. The placement in Huaraz, Peru, was perfect, because it gave me the opportunity to help vulnerable children and practice my Spanish in a completely new setting. The volunteer role itself is challenging, but ultimately very rewarding - the children are so appreciative of the educational and emotional support provided by the community centre and it's such a privilege to see them develop their literacy and numeracy skills in a secure, supportive environment. In any one day, you can be tasked with a range of different tasks, from cooking the children's meals, to helping teenagers with their art projects and playing football with 6- year olds.

What did you find most rewarding?
Seeing the children's improvement, even in the short 2 months that I was at the project.

What did you find most challenging?
Adapting my teaching style to suit children of different ages, interests and talents.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
It's very useful to have some knowledge of Spanish, as few people in Huaraz speak English.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
For its ethical reviews.”

Chris - 2016

"Volunteering at this project was excellent. I made great friends with both the children and the other volunteers both nationals and foreign. I gained much valuable experience working to educate kids and also an insight into how people live in a distant part of the world. Also, living near the centre of town was a great way to get to know Huaraz and its many good eateries!

What did you find most rewarding?
Playing games in recreo (break time) with the children.

What did you find most challenging?
Disciplining the children when they weren't doing their work properly.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
Take your time to get to know the kids as it helps in all areas of work with them."

Morag - 2015

"My whole experience was incredible. When organising, Pod Volunteer helped me with anything I needed no matter how many stupid questions I asked! I was super nervous arriving but I was met off the bus by the local volunteer coordinator and everyone was so lovely I really had nothing to worry about!

Working on the project was an amazing experience. The kids in the school were so friendly and welcoming you feel right at home straight away. The local team were also all very helpful and welcoming. I actually stayed an extra month it was so good!

It helps if you know Spanish but it's not necessary, all the kids and local team are very patient and happy to help you learn!

Would highly recommend this project to everyone!

What was a typical day at the Community Education project? Start in the school at 9am. The kids arrive and we help them with their homework if they have some. If not then we teach them English or set them other work like maths or with the younger ones something like dictation.

Then at 10:45am its play time (but only if they have finished their work!). Then at 11:15 the kids have some food (that one of the volunteers has prepared). The kids then go home and we tidy up. Then we have a 3 hour break where you can do whatever you want.

We start in the school again at 3pm with the younger kids. First we start with half an hour group classes which change every day (for example Mondays is reading, Tuesdays dictation etc.). Then we help with their homework. Then at 4:45pm its play time again! At 5:30 they have food. We tidy up and by 6 we're finished!

What did you find most rewarding? Seeing the kids improve (I taught Mayumi, one of the littlest girls, her alphabet!)

What did you find most challenging? Not being able to speak enough Spanish to help all the kids with everything. It was very frustrating not being able to help the older kids just because my Spanish wasn't good enough!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Learn as much Spanish as you can before you go. Also if you haven't done maths in a while I would recommend that you refresh the basics! (I had to learn from one of the boys!)

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? Small organisations do such amazing work for the kids but they don't have very much money so it's really important to support things like this. Their money comes from volunteers deciding to go out there, they totally rely on all the volunteers. And it's so worth it for the experience!"

Rick - 2015

“I give this program a ten out of ten!

My time in Huaraz was absolutely fantastic. This is the kind of program where you really feel like you are actively making a difference. These kids live in very poor situations, yet they always come to school with such great attitudes.

After spending 3 months there, I felt like I was part of the project family! However, this program can use as much support as possible, so the more volunteers the better!

One thing I definitely recommend is to learn some Spanish before you come to the program. It really helps you connect with the children and make stronger relationships with everybody at the school.

What was a typical day at the Community Education project? You have to be at work at 9 in the morning, so I typically wake up at 8 and make breakfast. The kids generally start their work at around 9:10, and they work until 10:45. After that they get to play, we feed them, and then they brush their teeth. When the kids leave, the volunteers clean up the tables and floor. The morning session ends around 11:30 to 12:00. You then get 3 hours to do whatever; generally, we would eat lunch and then relax or go play soccer, volleyball, etc. At 3, the afternoon session starts, and ends at 6. You get plenty of time to work with the kids, but you also have plenty of free time to explore the town, practice Spanish, hang out with friends... whatever you would like to do.

What did you find most rewarding? The most rewarding part of the project was the friendships I made with the kids. I taught them a lot, but they taught me a lot as well. As volunteers, we help a ton with their education, but we also get the opportunity to be positive role models, and that was really special to me.

What did you find most challenging? The kids are extremely sweet and intelligent, but they are also very young, so sometimes getting them to focus on their work proved difficult. It was frustrating at times, but for the most part they are eager to learn new things. All you need is patience!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? As I stated previously, I would advise volunteers to have at least a basic grasp on Spanish. It helps the students understand more, but you will also have a richer cultural experience.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? I think traveling is extremely important because it opens your eyes to so many new and exciting things in the world. I believe volunteering is particularly important (especially with communities) because we have such privileged lives, and we need to give back to others who need help.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer? I like that Pod is a small organization because the project managers are very personable and supportive. Becky and Gemma have been great throughout this whole process; the employees from Pod are what make it an exceptional organization.”

Veronica - 2015

"The time spent assisting at the Community Education project was truly amazing! My only regret was that I did not sign up for a longer period of time. The children are a joy to be with. They make you laugh constantly. While they are quite disciplined and work diligently with their studies, they are playful and extremely fun. The teachers seem very appreciative of help from the volunteers - the other volunteers and coordinator were great. I loved Yuri and the other teachers! It was sad to say good bye! I can't wait to visit again

What was a typical day at the Community Education project? School starts at 9. Kids greet you with a kiss and greeting. Kids do homework. Assist kids as necessary. Play with kids at recess. Help to serve lunch. Kiss kids good bye. Repeat!??

What did you find most rewarding? Working with the children- they are playful and sweet. Friday's together we're amazing.

What did you find most challenging? Not being fluent in the language made it difficult to assist when there were challenges.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? It's important to share - our wealth, our experiences, our time, our love. Even though I went to give my time and any of my gifts, I feel if I was the one who was benefited the most."

Cécile - 2014

"Before departure, the Pod staff was very supportive and reactive to my questions. I had no doubts that I was going with a serious and trustworthy organization. They made the registration process very easy (especially as I was registering few weeks before departure)

Volunteering with the Community Education project in Huaraz was simply a life-changing experience for me, filled with love, learning, discoveries, fun... and much more! On the human side, the connection you make with the kids is just incredible: they are very welcoming and you soon become part of the family. Of course, speaking a little bit of Spanish really helps. On the social side, discovering the Peruvian life-style from the inside is particularly rich. And if, on top of that, you like hiking, this place is just a pure paradise for outdoor adventures!

Definitely a month is not enough to really appreciate the adventure! You barely have time to find your benchmarks, know the city, get used to the daily routine. You're simply loving it and then it's already time to leave.

As it's mentioned in Pod's booklet, I also find very important to be conscious about the impact each volunteer really has as we all just come and go. The story of the Community Education project lives through the overall work of all of us.

Thank you Pod for connecting me with this great project. I definitely left in Huaraz, a little piece of my heart.

What was a typical day at the Community Education project? School starts at 9am. We need to pass first by the market to grab the food for the kids (cheese, bread, yoghurt and other). In the morning, we have the older kids (14-18) who are very independent for most of them as they do their homework. The volunteers help them with drawing, math, English... Depending on your own interest, you can also develop certain activities with some of them, if they're not to busy with school work. At 11:30, it's time to pray and eat the light snack we prepared for them.

At 12ish, kids go home, we clean the room and it's lunch break, until 3pm. Time to rest, practice Spanish, visit and advance different projects.

At 3pm, we welcome the younger kids (5-14), divided in 3 rooms according to their age. The afternoon is more structured: From 3-3:45, we practice math or communications depending on the day. This is generaly led by the Peruvian volunteers who know the kids and their programs. After that, until 4:45, kids do the homework they brought from school. It's all volunteers' responsibility to make sure they have all the support they need. It's a very good time to get tot know the kids!

From 5-5:30, kids can go outside and play before praying and eating.

At 6, the kids go home and all the volunteers clean the rooms and make sure it's all ready for the morning.

Once a week, we also have team meetings where staff and volunteers can exchange on the challenges, needs and upcoming projects.

What did you find most rewarding? Being able to help the kids one-one. Going over their doubts or difficulties with them. Making sure they understand the logic more than just repeating the rule. The gratitude they show you when you just spent 20 minutes with them is incredible. They don't have this kind of support at home.

What did you find most challenging? Adjusting to education and life-style. Being able to stay humble and not impose our "western" vision.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Definitely practice your Spanish before coming: the kids and staff are very patient but it helps you to make yourself understood! Forget your western standards and keep an open mind.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? It opens your mind, your heart and your vision of the world. It breaks down your standards, push back your personal limits and questions your self-confidence. But most important, it just allows you to see what's life in different part of the world, not just as a tourist but as part of a community.

Why did you choose Pod? Pod is a responsible organization that has only a few projects so I trust they have true relationship with the communities oversea and a real respect of the volunteers they send abroad: not just clients to make money but people who want to make a difference together.

I was also seduced by the Community Education project that combined everything I was looking for: working in a community, for a small organization, with kids, in Spanish and in the middle of the mountains!"

Jacob - 2013

“My time volunteering (about 3 months in total) was an absolutely enriching experience. I enjoyed my time there so much that I decided to put the rest of my travels on hold and stay for an extra month. In my time there the children in the school began to feel like family and the founder, the coordinator, and other volunteers were like my brothers and sisters. The city itself also has a ton to offer. Huaraz has a reputation of being a hub for the best trekking and climbing in all of Peru. On top of that, anyone who enjoys the taste of strong, flavourful beer will be elated to know that there are two different micro-brews in town. There is also good coffee to be found in a few local cafes, bakeries are on every corner, and, on weekends, very lively dance clubs. The locals are great and even if your Spanish isn't very strong many will go out of their way to try and communicate with you and you'll have a group of Spanish-speaking Peruvian friends before you know it.

It feels great to work with a student on something, see them make progress, and later see the results of that progress. I only wish I could have stayed longer to work with some of them more. Also to give attention and care to children, many of whom come from broken homes and poor families, felt equally important.

Communication within the organization can be more challenging if you don't have a firm grasp on the language. But nothing was ever unclear for more than a few moments as long as I was assertive enough to ask questions and keep myself informed.

Great volunteer apartment right in the middle of town where everything is with a kitchen, lots of DVDs, and internet. I never once felt unsafe in the city of Huaraz. The locals are friendly and you can walk nearly anywhere in town in only 10 minutes.

To get the most out of your experience I strongly recommend staying at least a month - longer if you can. The children really start to open up and get more comfortable around you the more they get to know you.”

Roberto - 2012

"I highly recommend the project to anyone and everyone. Especially those interested in education, developmental psychology, Latin America, hiking & outdoors, delicious food, great friends, and especially anyone looking for a sense of direction or a new journey.

The school children were super happy and excited to interact with us volunteers, it was very fun getting to know volunteers from around the world, and Huaraz is a beautiful city with mountains to climb street food everywhere. The kids at the community school were very excited and willing to learn. We taught them school work but also took them hiking, swimming, provided them with some nutrition, and played many games together. I think they benefit from meeting people from around the world and I hope that I provided them with not only educational guidance but moreover developmental and creative inspiration. All the volunteers were very well connected and knew we could trust Yuri and Maddie, the volunteer coordinator, to help us out. I think an orientation, on assigning school work would help the volunteers make even better lesson plans. I loved our apartment in Huaraz. It was in a prime location near the city center and a good walk to the school. I also really liked my housemates. I never felt unsafe at the project or Huaraz.

Volunteering with the children of Huaraz and traveling to Peru was an amazing adventure which taught me how beautiful and simple life is."

Vanessa - 2012

"Volunteering here was a fantastic experience. The program is well organized with great staff and wonderful kids. We did not want to leave when our month was over."

Thomas - 2012

"I was a volunteer for a period of one month in the spring 2009. I came there with 2 other Canadian friends and we worked other volunteers, mainly from England. I was really a great experience and I recommend it for anyone who likes working with children, who is looking for new challenges. The organization does a lot for these children's education! Huaraz is also a great place if you like mountain and outdoor activities."

Megan - 2012

"I felt supported here and was able to make a strong connection with the children and their families. I believe in the mission and values of this project and continue to stay in connection with them."

Sally - 2012

"I have been volunteering at the Community Education project for a month now and have thoroughly enjoyed my time here. Everyone has been so welcoming and friendly right from the start when the international coordinator helped me organise my journey to Huaraz and met me at the bus station. The thing I love about the project is that it is big enough to be well established and organised but small enough that if you have initiative and project ideas in mind you can make them happen. It is also very affordable in comparison to a lot of other volunteer organisations I have looked at.

At the school I have many opportunities to make a difference. Just sitting next to a student doing their homework and giving them the attention they deserve but rarely receive at home makes me feel like I am doing some real good here. I also work most afternoons with two primary school students which I find very rewarding. These kids are still doing basic number sums using their fingers and my goal is to help them with their mental arithmetic enough that they are confident to complete these sums in their heads rather than relying on more concrete means. I have a real love of performing arts and singing so on Friday afternoons when the littlies have free time I run singing workshops which I get a real kick out off. I have also been making educational/fundraising/promotional videos for their YouTube account and feel like I am making a real difference in this capacity. So as you can see the possibilities are endless.

I have been really impressed with the level of organisation and communication at the project. There is a set daily schedule that we follow. As well as a volunteer handbook that outlines what tasks volunteers can do, clear expectations and even some helpful Spanish phrases. We have weekly volunteer meetings where we report back on the kids we have worked with and any issues that have arisen. It’s so important when living in a foreign country to feel a part of a group or community. I love staying in the apartment with the other volunteers because it’s like a home away from home, living with a little family of like-minded people. I think if I was just volunteering during the day and going back to other accommodation alone I would be really missing out. The house has all that you need and is in a really central location.

I feel very safe in Huaraz. It’s a big enough city that it has everything you need but not too big that you need to be overly worried about street crime/violence. The apartment is very secure and only volunteers or people known to the organisation can visit so you can be sure that your belongings are safe."

Zach - 2012

"I'm one month into a three-month stint of volunteering with the Community Education project. The experience has been ideal in every way I could ask for: passionate, committed leaders, WONDERFUL and deserving children to teach, a fun, safe, city to live in, and a cool group of other volunteers.

Every day, I have the opportunity to work directly with the (VERY deserving) children at the community school. Most of the children come from extremely poor backgrounds, and some of them have experienced loss or violence while growing up. As a volunteer, I can see the immediate impact we can make by tutoring them in academics. Over the long-term, you also hope to be a positive adult role-model for them, showing them how to be diligent, polite, tenacious, and other character traits. The international volunteer coordinator and the Peruvian head of the organization are there for you every day, from the time they pick you up at the bus station.

We've got a pretty sweet apartment in a nice area of Huaraz, walking distance from the school. We often cook big dinners and such. Huaraz has a small-town feel to it, and we are in a particularly professional, well-lit, and modern area. I've not felt threatened even late at night. It's much less intimidating than most large Latin-American cities.

If you want to work directly with sweet, deserving children, feel like you are having an impact, and have a great time living abroad in a wonderful city, then this project is a fantastic choice."

Caitlin - 2012

"The month I spent in Huaraz, Peru was really astounding. Huaraz is a town located 8 hours north of Lima and is 10,000 feet above sea level. It is a beautiful city with access to incredible mountains, lakes, and therefore superb hiking, backpacking, and rock climbing possibilities. During the week, I volunteered this project which tries to improve the lives of extremely impoverished kids through education. This organization's life blood is the volunteers that work there. I had never lived anywhere that did not have clean and reliable running water and it was really eye-opening to not be able to expect to have clean/hot/working water at any given time. During the weekends, you are free to go on trekking adventures and explore the beautiful landscapes that are at your fingertips. If you are considering volunteering at this project in Huaraz, I'd highly recommend it."

Garance - 2012

"As a recently graduated primary school teacher, I was looking for some experience that could help me in my practice. In addition to further developing my teaching skills my time at the project has improved my Spanish and given me the chance to work with children from very different backgrounds to my own. By spending time with the children and Peruvian volunteers, I have learnt a lot about the political and cultural landscape of Peru. I’ve really appreciated the challenge and satisfying experience of supporting children who are living in very difficult circumstances.

At the school, I felt that I could make a real difference. With some initiative and energy, you are able to find many opportunities to help the children. Even if you have a limited Spanish, the children are very understanding of this and make helping them far easier.

Once at the project all the rules and expectations were made very clear. After being briefed we all signed a contract that specified these obligations. Communication between the volunteers and staff members was made easy by the approachable and generous nature of the staff. The volunteer apartment is located well in the centre of Huaraz. You are able to walk to many places including the large local market and the school which is only a 5 minute walk away. At the house there is a computer with internet, hot showers, a fully equipped kitchen and comfortable living area.

I never felt unsafe while being in Huaraz. Like in any place it is not recommended to go out alone after midnight but so long as you use your common sense I think that this city is quite safe. The apartment is in a good neighbourhood and is very secure, as you need two keys to enter and the doors are always kept shut.

I have met so many great people here from all over the world. I have learned and gained so much from my time at the project. My Spanish and English have improved greatly. Working with the children has significantly developed my teaching skills. It was an unforgettable experience!"

Alexandra - 2012

"I have only good memories from my experience with the Community Education project. The children are adorable and very lovely. Even if I was there for only one month, I feel attached to these kids and I’m really going to miss them. You can learn so many things from them and they help you with your Spanish the best they can.

I was at the project during the Carnavales (February) so we made some water balloons fight after classes; even if you are completely wet after it, you have such a great time and the kids just love it! They are smiling all the time and chasing you with water balloons!

Also, it was nice to be with the other Peruvian and International volunteers to share stories and to go out. You feel like you have a new family and you always have something to do. Finally, you are meeting so many nice people, including the kids, the others volunteers and the teachers, that you don’t want to leave and already planning to come back!"

Find out more about the Community Education project

AWARDS AND ACCREDITATIONS

  • Tourism Concern
  • Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust
  • Right Tourism
  • DOFE
  • theguardian
  • the independent
  • Sunday Times
  • Year Out Group
  • Best Volunteering Organisation
  • Wall Street Journal