Dominic Pera - General Teaching Projects in Peru
My name is Dom Pera and I am from Denver, CO in the United States. Since high school I knew I loved travelling and that I wanted to volunteer—I have always been interested in teaching abroad and living in a foreign country for an extended period of time, but I never quite knew how to make this experience happen. When I finally found Projects Abroad, I knew right away that I would be taken care of very well by the organisation and that I would gain an extremely valuable experience. The hard part was then choosing what country to go to, but when I really started looking Peru seemed to be the obvious choice for me to improve my Spanish, gain some great relationships, and see a part of the world I had never been to.
Arriving in Peru
I came to Peru with my good friend from high school, Lauren, because I knew she was interested in the same sort of thing. Upon landing in Peru we were immediately greeted by the amazing staff, taken to our headquarters in Urubamba, and then introduced to our amazing family in Pisaq. While we were exhausted from travelling, not once did we seem to lose energy because everyone around us was extremely excited to have us there; we immediately felt at home.
My teaching placement
I worked my full 6 weeks in a rural secondary school in a town called Ccorao. My students were between ages 11 and 18, and all I wish is to see them again—they are so nice and incredibly funny! I had 11 classes in the school, and at the start of each class the students were allowed to interview me and ask whatever questions they wanted to. Their favourites are always “Do you have a girlfriend?”. My favourite question was being asked by the all-girls class in the school if I was married. When she found out that I wasn’t, I was told I could stay in Peru forever and marry her, ha.
I was also incredibly lucky to be paired with such a great English Professor in Ccorao; her name was Kati. Typically, she would tell me what the grammar lesson of the day was, teach the introduction, and then after that I would take over the class and teach the exercises and grammar parts. She really made me feel at home in Peru, and was a great support and advisor for me while teaching the amazing students in Ccorao.
What best sticks out to me about my placement are their parties. Peruvians love to have parties, especially during school. I was lucky enough to experience a field day, Fathers’ Day, the Inti Raymi Festival (which celebrates Cusco’s birthday in a way), and Teacher Appreciation Day. The field day was one of my first days, and I got to watch and play some great soccer/football and volleyball with my students. Each grade level was separated into girls and boy’s teams for the two sports, and each had special uniforms for the day. It was so much fun seeing their opening ceremonies (run like the Olympics) and seeing how excited all of the kids were to be playing- they are very good!
Even though I am not a dad, the teachers included me as “Padrito Futuro” or “little future dad” in their Father’s Day celebration. On the Inti Raymi party at the school, I got to eat traditional Peruvian foods, drink Pisco Sours, and play volleyball with all of the teachers. And finally on Teacher Appreciation Day, all of the students put on an amazing show for the teachers. I felt very honoured to be included in this as well. Each class performed a traditional Peruvian dance; there were games and contests, and great food and drinks. At the end, the two oldest classes each grabbed a teacher and we all danced together for the rest of the day. Needless to say, between all of the students and teachers at Ccorao, I gained a great family with my placement and feel so lucky to have been able to teach them.
As for my experience in general in Peru, I cannot really describe it. During my time I both taught and did community work with other volunteers. I spent time with my family. I toured around Peru, Machu Picchu, and the Sacred Valley. I went to Cusco with other volunteers to party. Simply put, I had the time of my life and miss it every day.
Yes there were minor shakeups along the trip, including being pick-pocketed and getting food poisoning at one point, but these do not take away from my experience at all! 7 weeks taught me to live simply and to cherish your relationships. I think that the most important thing that I learned was Manan Konkanachu Familianchista. This is Quechua (the native Incan language) for Never Forget your Family.
For me, I will never forget the amazing families that I gained in Peru. My host family always so gracious, loving, and helpful. My “family” at Ccorao was always welcoming, upbeat, entertaining, and extremely fun. My “family” of volunteers that I met have become great friends that I will never forget. In all, Peru was the trip of a lifetime. I wish it was longer and I cannot wait to visit my families in Peru someday in the future.