It is disorienting to be back in Ottawa, visiting my family and going to classes. I keep wondering how everything here can be exactly as I left it- if I feel so different, why is everything here the same? If I didn’t have souvenirs and pictures, I would be questioning if my trip happened at all. The dislocation I am feeling right now makes it is difficult to think clearly about my time in Peru, but one important thought stands out: I am extremely grateful that I had the opportunity to do this internship in the way I did it. Some German volunteers I met in Peru had found their work placements through an agency whose only responsibility was to find the job. Looking back I can see that the pre-departure training helped me to take more from my internship than I could have otherwise, and helped me to confidently make decisions about ethical and work-related problems that occurred. In addition, the WUSC staff in Peru went beyond what I would have considered their job requirements to make sure the Canadian volunteers were comfortable, safe, and involved in life in Peru. I feel lucky to have completed my first international work term with so much theoretical and logistical support.
In brief, I worked at Acción por los Niños, which is a very small NGO which works mainly to promote coordination among groups responsible for the child protection system in Peru. It also has a project in the jungle which is designed to reduce domestic violence. I attended meetings, translated documents and made a directory of a variety of public institutions in five districts.
Outside of work I was fortunate enough to live with a wonderful host family. I know not all interns are lucky enough to stay with a family that takes such an active interest in their well-being and overall experience. I enjoyed living in a city in a developing country. It was amazing how so many things (McDonalds, taking the bus to work) could be the same, while others (street markets, the intense air pollution) were so different.
As I left, I couldn’t help but feel jealous of my friends in Peru who were staying for 5 month, 8 month and 12 month internships—there was far too much to do and see, both at work and outside of it, than was possible in my brief three month stay! As I work on my university papers and assignment her in Ottawa my thoughts often stray South, as I reflect on my first work-term outside of Canada, and lay plans for another.