The past two months I have been volunteering in Huanchaco, Peru, with Otra Cosa Network. My ‘project’ has consisted of teaching English at two different schools, from grades 1-6. It has been rewarding and challenging; not only did I help hundreds of young kids, but they helped me. Every time I taught them a new word in English, they would teach me one in Spanish. It was a beautiful way to learn and forge a bond. On Mondays and Wednesdays I would take a short hike across the dried river bed. On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays I would take the local bus to the other school. I don’t know why but I really enjoyed these ‘commutes’. Probably because it is so far from the norm back home.
I viewed these two months volunteering as a ‘productive vacation’ – and I still think that statement is spot on. Being able to feel productive, while giving back and helping young kids is a perfect way to start the day, and surfing in the afternoon and evening is a perfect way to end it.
I am so happy and thankful that I stumbled across the Otra Cosa Network website, and even more grateful that I decided to be a part of such a fun and great organisation. After all, an organisation is about the people and Otra Cosa Network is full of likeminded people that want to give back and help make a difference, while having fun. From the very first meeting, they make an effort to make you feel welcomed and part of the the family. Another awesome thing is the diversity of nationalities, with people from all over the globe. I learned a lot about different cultures from across the world. Now I have even more motivation to travel (with free lodging)!
My experience with Otra Cosa Network is everything I could have wished for and more. I was able to help by teaching English, learned a ton of Spanish, travelled all over Peru, and surfed some great waves almost daily. In Huanchaco I made some local friends and with volunteers from all over the world. I am so happy I am not daydreaming about typing this from my cubical in an insurance office from Florida, but rather made it a reality and am typing it on a bus in Peru… while staring out the window at the Andes, on the way to one of the longest waves in the world.