This month was very exciting, as we welcomed back two well-known past volunteers Heidi and John!
Heidi hails from Helsinki,Finland. She has dedicated her time in the emergency room as a registered nurse for 25 years and now works for a social insurance association. During her time with LLI she has been assisting us with our Reading, Math, and English program as well as numerous activities in our Teen Center.
John comes to us from San Francisco, California. He works for Zillow Group where he is a Senior Mobile Software Engineer, coding iPhones, iPads, and Androids. This is John’s fourth time volunteering with LLI. He has been teaching in our coding and app inventor classes at the Kid’s and Teen Center.
The LLI team wanted to thank Heidi and John on their continuous commitment and we also appreciate your hard work and dedication to our kids!
Here are some kind words from our current volunteers to Heidi and John:
“John has been an amazing addition to LLI’s family. It’s great to see him here, now in his FOURTH volunteer opportunity, and making Coding a permanent part of LLI’s programming. And plus, he loves to share cakes and pastries, so who can deny that? Thanks John for being you.” -Lara
“Heidi is one of the most genuine and loving women I have ever met in my life. We are lucky to have her yet asecond time in Huaycán and I know her calming presence and her dedication is infectious to the rest of us. We love you Heidi!” -Lara
“Heidi has a great way of connecting with every person she meets; from the students at the kids’ center to Dina and Queta in the house. Heidi, I loved dancing with you, come back soon!“ -Pam
“I’m so glad to have Heidi and John with us this month. They are amazing people with such a great passion for the organization. It’s awesome to be around two inspiring people!” -Rosa
“What strikes me most about John is how generous he is. This is his fourth time volunteering with LLI in Huaycan. Not only does he give his time, but he is always doing kind things for others, like surprising the kids with ice cream and showing up to the volunteer house with a bag of pastries. He gives so much to this organization and is a joy to be around.” -Janae
“I love Heidi’s adventurous spirit. She is not afraid to try new things, like eating anticuchos and teaching Finnish to the kids during childcare, and I have loved all of our game nights and outings with her during my time here. She is so patient and helpful with all the kids and I know they will all miss her so much when she leaves! She truly brings a smile to everyone’s face.” -Janae
John: “I think that returning year after year from his home in the Bay Area of California just shows how committed John is at supporting an organization. He is one of the only individuals I know that balances financial support, with his technological donations, and the other kind of support, that requires teaching that student how to use technology. He’s one cool dude.” – Olivia
Heidi: “She’s exactly the kind of energy you need: for kids, for parents, and for volunteers, as well. A person like Heidi re-energizes you with her kindness and generosity. She reminds me why we do the work that we do. I hope if she returns a third year, we can have her start a Finnish club, because language learning is so important and Heidi is exactly the kind of language learner you want in the classroom: she is someone who consistently tries.” -Olivia
Returning for more! Meet Jess our Teen Center Coordinator, who is a returning LLI volunteer that will be with us for one whole year. Thanks for your continued support Jess!
Get to know all about Jess with this Q & A:
1. Tell me about yourself. What school you attended, major, what you were doing before this, hobbies, etc.
I went to Carleton College and majored in International Relations. During my time there I worked as a Gender and Sexuality Center Associate and was involved in the Latin American Student Organization and the Collective for Women’s Issues. I studied in five languages throughout my time at Carleton as language has always been a passion of mine, and I’m always looking for people to practice my French or Arabic with! Growing up, I moved around all the time and ended up spending three years in Santiago, Chile and five years in D.F. (Mexico City), Mexico. During college I studied abroad in Amman, Jordan and Lima, Peru, where I first heard about LLI. These experiences have given me essential language skills and fueled my drive to do my work at LLI.
2. How does it feel being back on the LLI team? Any changes?
It feels great! After being here last year for a little over two months I was so aware that it wasn’t long enough. Since I’ve been back most of the people I work with have been new, but it’s been nice that during my time two people I worked with last year also came back to volunteer, which I think speaks to the commitment people feel to this organization. In terms of changes, there’s a lot of new art up on the walls at the teen center, which I love! Last time I was here, we moved everything from the Zone D classroom to the Kid’s Center and everything was still getting set up, so it’s nice to see the Kid’s Center in full swing.
3. Why Teen Center Coordinator?
While I was here last time, I was doing a little bit of everything. I taught math for the kid’s program, taught basic computer skills for the women’s program, translated for a researcher conducting nutrition research through LLI, and worked at the Teen Center. I loved everything I did, but the Teen Center really stood out to me as a unique place for young people who care about their community. As the Teen Center Coordinator is a fairly new position, I feel like there’s still a lot of development to be done, and I’m excited to continue developing the leadership program and organizing a program to help the teens think about their plans after they graduate from the Teen Center.
4. What do you like most about Huaycan?
One of my favorite things about Huaycan is definitely Sunday night futbol/soccer. Every week a group of LLI volunteers, local volunteers, and friends get together to play for an hour or two and it’s such a nice way to get to know people, have fun, and get a little exercise. I also love the street food, and getting to try everything from anticuchos (cow hearts) to bombitas (fried dough sweets).
Huaywasi, the artisan program within LLI’s Women’s Empowerment Program, has officially launched an online store! All products are hand-made by six different female artisans in Huaycán, who are paid fair wages for their talents. The artisans make a variety of products ; hand-loomed bags and backpacks, dresses and skirts, yoga mat carriers, knit scarves, ceramics, and more. Each Huaywasi purchase supports not only the artisan’s financial future, but also provides free educational workshops for women in Huaycán.
“It is not fair that anybody sit 12 hours sewing and sewing until they collapse of dehydration and hunger,” Ludvig Hambro said. “…It costs us 10 Euro to buy a T-shirt at H&M, but somebody has to starve for you to be able to buy it.” – From “Who’s Really Paying for Our Cheap Clothes” – Ecowatch.com
Support fair wages and education for our Huaywasi artisans at Huaywasi.com
Meet Patricia who has been with the LLI team since May 2016 as our Women’s Program Manager! Patricia is no stranger to South America, she is Brazilian and is third generation Japanese. Originally from São Paulo (the biggest city in Latin America), but was raised in a smaller town nearby. She spent about four years in Belo Horizonte, where she received her Bachelors degree in International Relations from the Pontifícia Universidade Católica de Minas Gerais.
Learn more about Patricia with this Q & A:
1. Tell me about what you did before LLI?
Before LLI, I spent a year working and traveling through Thailand and Southeast Asia. I joined LLI as the Women’s Program Manager after looking for a great opportunity to work with gender and development.
2. What is your favorite part of being the WPM?
Here I’m having the chance to apply my knowledge in international relations and gender, and also also learn a lot about social work and non-profit management. But this is a tough question, I don’t have one favorite part. I enjoy meeting the women (at the Program and on the street, markets,etc…) and their kids, and it’s also very nice to meet other organizations working for women and community development. The artisan program, Huaywasi, is another highlight. All in all, this has been a great community immersing experience.
3. How do you see the women’s program growing?
My goal is to set a solid program, reaching out to more women, helping Huaycán to achieve a sustainable development, and bridge the gender inequality gap. I am looking forward to creating structured certificate programs for our workshops, and a community empowerment program. I aim to set a program in which the women from Huaycán truly see as theirs.
4. What do you love most about being in Peru?
Peru is being such a great place to discover every day. I would mention the people, food, sightseeings, Machu Picchu, … And the feeling that this is very similar to my home. Even the crazy traffic reminds me of home (a.k.a my time in Thailand, and some Brazilian neighborhoods). Living in Huaycán is a different and pleasurable experience. It also astonishes me how many Peruvians are so interested in learning Portuguese. Plus, it’s great having the opportunity to meet amazing people from other countries also wanting to discover Peru in a sustainable way.
Origami and other crafts. Whatever is related to food (I’m especially interested in veganism and organic food). Learning different languages. Traveling. Meditation and yoga.🙂
As a volunteer in a foreign country, we always want to document our every experience abroad by shooting a few videos or images and posting them on some, if not all, of our favorite social media sites such as Twitter, Instagram, and of course the most important, Facebook.
We partner with our friends at Unearth the World to focus all of our efforts towards ethical volunteering. Read up on some fun tips on how we as volunteers can use social media to properly portray our experiences.Be sure to check out this awesome guest post HERE written by our very own Lara DeVries, Founder and Executive Director of LLI.
It has definitely been a fun and crazy month for us at LLI!!! Without a doubt, our students at the teen center have been having a busy month! Check out a few things they are up to:
We started out the month with our new English class for beginners. English Program Manager, Olivia says, “It’s great to have a lot of new energy in the teen center, with so many new faces. All the students really have a strong desire to learn the language. It’s an exciting time to be in English!
There are some changes stirring up in the Teen Center! The teens have been remodeling and expressing their artistic abilities. With all this new art on our walls the Teen Center is only that much more welcoming for our new students!
Our Leadership Program wrapped up their community module by presenting the interviews they conducted with people from our very own Huaycan community.
We ended the month by hosting a Karaoke session for the teens. Our teens sang it all from English to Spanish,Ozuna to Justin Bieber.
In June we held LLI’s 7th Anniversary where two very special youth were awarded Kid’s Center Participant of the year and Teen Center Participant of the year!
Maycol a student that has been an active member of LLI’s Kids Center for 5 years was awarded Kid’s Center Participant of the year! Program Development Intern, Rosa, chaperoned Maycol’s field trip to the movie theatre to watch Ice Age followed by dinner in Santa Clara. Maycol picked his father and his brother Josue, who is also a part of our kid’s center, to come out and enjoy his field trip outing! Here are some clips of his evening:
Naydu is a student in our Teen’s Center English Program and was awarded Teen Center Participant of the year! English teacher Sarah and Teen Center Coordinator Linda accompanied Naydu for her special evening. For her her outing Naydu chose to go to El Circuito Magico de Agua, which is a park in Lima well known for their beautiful water fountains. The evening was followed by a delicious dinner where they ate one of Peru’s famous dishes, pollo a la brasa. Here are some pictures from Naydu’s night:
Huge THANK YOU to our volunteers and again congratulations to our Kid’s Center and Teen’s Center participants of the year! Your outing was definitely one well deserved!
Meet Pam who is LLI’s Volunteer and Events Coordinator! Pam has been with the LLI team since March and has helped us out by coordinating our 7th Anniversary, bringing in and even taking care of some awesome volunteers!
Pam is from the Bay Area-California, but has spent some time living in Chicago, IL first as a student before entering the working world. She received her Bachelors of Arts in Human Development from the University of Chicago.
Get to know how adventurous and fun our Volunteer Coordinator Pam is with this short Q&A below:
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Your experiences before LLI, where you come from, hobbies..etc.
Hi! I’m Pam, from the Bay Area – California, but I spent the 5 years prior to LLI in Chicago. Before LLI, I spent a year working with Chicago Public School Parents towards Restorative Justice practices and Early Education access in CPS schools. I also coached Junior Rowing and had a brief stint as a field researcher studying Primary Care Access for Adults. In my spare time, I enjoy cycling, dog walking, being outside, and finding good coffee.
What made you want to join LLI’s team as the Volunteer and Events Coordinator? What do you look forward to most in the position?
Though I wasn’t looking to work abroad, I immediately applied to this position because it offered me the opportunity to get to know the Huaycan community. While I was working in Chicago, I interacted with so many empowering individuals and communities; by working as the Volunteer Coordinator, I feel as I am given a similar opportunity to work with many empowering people within Huaycan while supporting the work that LLI Volunteers do in the community.
Beyond the many Huaycan-ites I’ve been fortunate to meet, I always look forward to meeting the new incoming volunteers that join us at LLI! It’s been incredible to make new friends from all over while working and living together.
You’ve been in Peru for 4 months, what are you liking best about Peru?
There are so many things I love about Huaycan, it’s hard to name them all! Everyday I look forward to all the familiar faces on Quince, Clase de Baile with Jorge at the gym, long runs on the canchon, and the familiar sounds coming from all the vendors and cobradores. There is a deep place in my heart though for a nice, long combi nap through all the crazy traffic out here. I still have so much time left and hope to see more of this beautiful country!
Graduations are always filled with a strange mix of emotions: excitement, relief, accomplishment, and maybe a bit of uncertainty. These feelings permeated the Teen Center on the evening of July 1st, 2016 when our first graduation ceremony was held for our Intensive English class.
For Jhonny, Kelly, Kevin, Nilver, and Pedro, it was their night. Our honoraries began the night as they would any other Friday evening, in English class. Students reflected on their time in the English program by writing letters filled with advice and encouragement to the future English students. After this brief class, the graduation began. The audience was composed of students, volunteers, friends, parents, siblings, and, of course, our graduates.
Linda, our Teen Center Manager, kicked of the ceremony by eloquently expressing how proud we here at LLI — and everyone, for that matter — are of our graduates. The students’ current teacher, Elijah, addressed the graduates, with the help of the evening’s translator, Rosa, our Program Development Intern, as well as presented them with their certificates and gifts. These gifts included some goodies they would be using for the university and job interviews. The gifts were also accompanied by letters collected from current and former volunteers that shared words of wisdom for the future. As the night came to a close, our graduates began to see that this was not an end, but just a new beginning, as they transition from student to leaders, perhaps being volunteers in our organization.
Graduation is a funny thing — lots of mixed emotions. As a student, there is excitement and a strong sense of accomplishment, while at the same time, there is a bit of uncertainty of what is to come next. For teachers, there is a sense of relief, of course, in that the students have “made it,” in a way, yet at the same time, one cannot help but be solemn, as who knows when we will all see each other again.
Are you hearing Wiz Khalifa’s “See you Again” in your head right now? Coincidentally, two students in our new Intensive English class were playing that song at the end of the graduation. Before we know it, those students will be graduating. If you’re interested in helping these students accomplish their goals in our English Program, learn more about volunteering with LLI here and join our team!
Olivia joined LLI’s team as the English Program Manager in May of this year. She’s done a great job taking the reigns from our previous manager, Keeley, and has kept the positive momentum for the program going!
Olivia joins our team from suburban Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but prior to LLI, she spent time teaching at the U.S./Mexican border in Texas and in Quito, Ecuador. She has aM.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction: Triple Literacy Studies with an emphasis in English as a Second Language (ESL) at the University of Texas in Arlington. Needless to say, she’s a great asset to LLI.
She’s a pretty amazing person and is worth getting to know… so check it out the Q&A below:
Q: How did your prior experiences in Texas and Ecuador contribute to your desire to work in education? What did you learn from those experiences about yourself as a teacher?
A: Before arriving to Peru, I worked as a high school teacher in the United States. I student taught in the inner city in Harrisburg, PA, which ignited in me a fire to ensure that every child receives a quality education. This passion brought me to the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, where I discovered an entirely different part of the USA that nobody could quite understand unless they lived, worked, and interacted with the people there. As difficult as it was to leave my students on the border, I knew that I needed a better grasp on the Spanish language if I wanted to make a difference in the lives of Spanish-speakers in my country. A near-majority in the US, Spanish-speakers have the ability to change the world due to their bilingualism, yet this potential is limited due to inequalities in education. I moved to Ecuador to get my TESOL certification after leaving the border, and working with students in Ecuador, I realized even more that I didn’t know about serving all demographics of students. I suppose, overall, I am learning that I still have a lot to learn. To me, this understanding is incredibly encouraging, because as a teacher, I never want to believe that I know it all and have every answer. If that is the case, then I will have forgotten that being a teacher goes hand-in-hand with being a life-long learner. I never want my students to stop learning, so why should I?
Q: At LLI, your the English Program Manager. What do you look forward to most in the position?
Well, just working with people who possess the passion of teaching is appealing to me. Educators are a funny group of people, and I have found that the longer one is in this field, the harder it is to find people still committed to closing achievement gaps and providing a quality education for every child. How terrifying is that – a teacher who has lost his/her love of the job?! With this position, I will be meeting people new to teaching, but who are voluntarily taking on the challenge. These are young people who are choosing to travel to Peru and devote all of their energy to education. You can’t get more of a passion toward teaching than that! I am looking forward to capitalizing on that energy and hope, trying to support them in anyway I can so that they don’t lose that spark of optimism. They’re an inspiration!
Q: What are some aspects of Peru you’ve been enjoying thus far?
The country is absolutely beautiful. I’m enjoying simply sitting in a bus and gazing out the window, to be honest. But, I am also loving the relationships I am building with people in Peru. Similar to Ecuadorians, I find that Peruvians are so quick to ask me questions about my life and help me practice my Spanish. This kind of interaction with people never ceases to amaze me, and I consider myself lucky to get the chance to interact with people from all walks of life. Plus, with my limited Spanish speaking abilities, yet strong listening skills, I am hearing some unbelievable stories from people who lead incredible lives.