Students Without Borders is a WUSC and CECI program that enables Canadian university and college students to participate in exciting, volunteer learning opportunities in South America, Africa, and Asia.

Adapting to a new life while rediscovering psychology

October 2, 2012

Déjà presqu’un mois s’est écoulé depuis mon départ d’Ottawa jusqu’à Lima. L’adaptation à mon nouveau pays d’appartenance suit son cours et chaque jour m’apporte de nouveaux outils : amélioration de ma compréhension/utilisation de l’espagnol, utilisation de transports en commun, groupe de soutient social, etc. The Peruvian WUSC team who greeted me in Lima has been absolutely wonderful in helping me settle in to my new home country! Our first week of orientation provided me with a general understanding of Lima’s streets and neighbourhoods, culture, food, and security issues. And though I am the only student from the University of Ottawa in Lima, five other Canadian students join me in this Peruvian adventure!

De même, mon travail auprès de l’organisme CEDRO avance bien et déjà en un mois j’ai pu en apprendre beaucoup sur la pratique de la psychologie clinique au Pérou. CEDRO appears to be a large non-profit organisation comprising many departments (or “projects” as they call them). The Casas Hogares Program in which I am working is only an infinite part of CEDRO’s mission to reduce drug consumption and increase awareness in Peru. Psychologists are also working in schools across the country, a clinic is available to recovering Peruvians, and teams are working on raising awareness in the “selva” (the Amazon and tropical region of Peru) where drug is often produced and sold.

Mon travail est tout à fait différent du reste de la mission de CEDRO. Oui, certains enfants des foyers de groupe où je travaille ont en effet déjà consommé de la drogue, mais là n’est pas la raison pour laquelle ils se retrouvent aujourd’hui en milieu résidentiel. Le thème de la consommation ne représente pas non plus le focus de mon travail. Instead, I am working with about 45 kids (between the ages of 9 and 19 years), boys and girls, who have been brought to CEDRO for one of three reasons:

1) Their parents requested the help of CEDRO to provide support with behavioral misconduct (e.g., non respect of curfews, prolonged time spent away from home to play videogames of surf the net, absenteeism at school, etc.);

2) They have been found in a state of abandonment (e.g. roaming the streets of Peru); or

3) They have requested legal assistance for maltreatment and/or abuse.

Les enfants sont géniaux! Tous ont leurs qualités et leurs défauts et tous ont une soif d’apprendre qui rend mon travail encore plus intéressant! Leurs histoires personnelles sont touchantes et me rappellent les raisons qui m’ont amené à vouloir pratiquer la psychologie. Plus important encore, ce stage me rappelle l’essentiel de la psychologie clinique : écoute active, empathie, originalité et flexibilité. Working with these kids what I am finding the hardest is not having limited material resources or having to work from a common area rather than an office. It’s having to go back home every day and crossing on the streets other children who have not yet had the luck or the luxury to find themselves rescued from the conditions of maltreatment, abuse, and abandonment in which they live in…