Global Service Scholar: Alexis Lewis
Every day starts with my alarm at 7 a.m. As my roommate and I are getting ready, we listen for the bell that Ruth rings to signal that breakfast is ready. Ruth is a friend of our host family who cooks every meal for us. She went to culinary school, and is currently studying to be an accountant. We do not always eat breakfast together since people leave at different times during the morning. Usually, we all eat a lot of bread, which is specially made in Ayacucho. In addition to that, we have avocado, some kind of fresh fruit drink, and eggs. We eat every meal outside, at a table in between the kitchen room and the bedrooms. Most of the house is situated around a small outdoor patio, which means we wake up to the sunrise and we see the stars at night during dinner.
After breakfast, I walk with Veronica (and sometimes three other people as well) to the orphanage. Because the soup kitchen is right next door to the orphanage, we often walk there and back with the others who work at the kitchen. It’s about a 25 minute walk, but we cut through the University of Huamanga to make it shorter. When we get to the orphanage in the morning, there are usually only about three boys there — the rest go to school in the mornings. No matter who is there, they always come running, arms outspread and ready for hugs, shouting our names. The boys in the morning are a little older, ages 11-13. We sit down and help them with their homework, whatever that may be. All of the boys study English in school, so we often help them with that. They’re always asking us to translate words. It makes me wish I had been encouraged to study Spanish in grade school.
After homework, they have play time. Activities range from playing soccer to playing cards. We have started to do small workshops with them during this time. For example, we just recently taught them how to make dreamcatchers. At 11:30, we leave the orphanage because the older boys get ready for school. We usually go to the soup kitchen to say hello to the kids there, and meet up with the other volunteers. At 12:15, we all walk home together to eat lunch (again, always prepared by Ruth). This is usually the biggest meal of the day. All the meals contain a LOT of carbs, but they’re always very tasty! We usually have a short time to nap or spend some time for ourselves during lunchtime, since we don’t leave for our projects again until 2. I usually try to catch up on journaling. Sometimes I take a short nap.
After lunch, we head back to the orphanage. Again, we walk with the students who work at the soup kitchen. Sometimes we stop at the store to get snacks or water. The most interesting part of the walks to and from our placements is crossing the street. Drivers aren’t exactly careful here, and there are very few crosswalks. Often, we run between cars when there are large enough gaps. We arrive at the orphanage during homework time for the younger kids, who are ages 4-10. After homework, we do another workshop with them, such as doing science experiments, or dancing. Often, we are responsible for making sure the kids don’t get into trouble, which can be a challenge. After the workshop, we play for a while, and then we head home.
We usually arrive home around 5 p.m. The first thing I do is turn on the water boiler so I can have a hot shower after dinner. Sometimes, we run errands if we need to, but often I take the time from 5 to 6:30 to work on my journal or hang out with people. Around 6:30 we eat dinner (prepared by Ruth). After dinner, we have team “check-in” where we debrief the events of the day. Sometimes we go to the plaza afterward, or to the market, or just hang out at home. I spend a lot of time journaling at the end of the day. I usually go to bed around 10:30.
While the ten of us Global Service Scholars work in four different places, we spent a great deal of time with each other. Living in the same house is really fun, because we get to experience this time together. We have spent many good times as well as many challenging times together these past three weeks. We have grown into a little family, and it’s going to be hard to leave these people at the end of our time here. The support and knowledge I have received from these incredible people has changed my life almost as much as the service we are doing and the people we have met here in Peru.