Volunteers Spotlight: Jocelyn

Today our spotlight is on our volunteer Jocelyn  who is from Ayer, Massachusetts. Jocelyn’s been with LLI for 2 months and during this time she’s  helped out with math help, but her main duties include revising curriculum for the biblioteca program and managing that as well as programming for the Teen Center. For the programming, she planned fun and interesting events for the teens including an American Culture Night, a UN style discussion, and a Jeopardy evening. For Biblioteca, Jocelyn devised a set of workshops for students in the Biblioteca program that were struggling with phonics and basics of reading.

Let’s get to know Jocelyn a bit more :)

“I am a rising junior at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC studying history and secondary education. On campus, I am involved as a TA for EDUC 302: Cross Cultural Education, I am a Resident Advisor (RA), I am a Tour Guide Coordinator in the Office of Admissions at Guilford, and I participate in CAB (Campus Activities Board). Prior to going to college, I spent 2 weeks in Panama and fell in love with Latin American culture.”

What inspired you to volunteer in Huaycan?
A few things brought me to Huaycan. One of them being that I am a history major and the foundations of Huaycan really grabbed my attention. I think the historical roots of Huaycan explain why it is the way it is and it made me want to spend time in this community. I also am really interested in culture and how people live in different regions of the world, which is what drove me to venture abroad in the first place.

What activities do you enjoy the most while volunteering for LLI?
I love working in the Teen Center. The teens are so welcoming and so appreciative of the work we do as volunteers. I also love swapping stories of cultural norms compared from the USA to Peru.


Do you feel your experience with LLI has helped your career path or your personal development?
LLI has undeniably been a positive and helpful experience for my career path. I’m a secondary education major with plans to one day teach history in a high school. Although I did not actually teach anything while with LLI, I still gained a lot of appreciation for cross cultural competency and communication in those regards.

Random facts about yourself.
I was a competitive All-Star cheerleader all during high school.
My favorite movie is “The Breakfast Club.”
I’m afraid of geese.
I’ve seen every episode of “The Office” up to season 6 (and it’s my favorite show).
I’ve been inside the White House before.
I have a miniature horse.

Share a favorite memory from LLI days.
Telling the kids at the Teen Center all about American culture. I loved swapping stories with them comparing and contrasting Peruvian culture to American culture.


Plans after LLI.
Once I leave Peru, I have about a week at home before I head back to college for RA training. In a long-term sense, I have 2 more years of college.

Message to future volunteers.
Ask all the questions you can think of! There are going to be so many things and situations you don’t understand, and the majority of them are worth asking about. I once asked a woman on a combi (public transportation) how she tied her baby to her back without the baby falling. It is totally worth the sometimes awkwardness.

Any travel/volunteering/teaching tip for future volunteers.
Peru is a GIANT country which I did not realize upon coming here. If you want to travel somewhere in the country, plan ahead. It may take a lot longer than you think to get there.

In 5 words describe your experience with LLI.
Find the best in everything.

Thank you, Jocelyn, for devoting your time with LLI and planning great activities for the teens. We wish you all the best for the college!

Throwback Thursday 2010 with Amy

#tbt to way back when in 2010 with volunteer and now Board Member Amy Ravenhorst, plus her family and friends who gathered donations for LLI! We are still so grateful!tbtjuly23

English Teacher Needed!!

The Light and Leadership Initiative is in need of English teacher to start on September 30th, 2015 and stay through November 11th.

You’ll be teaching several English classes a week to kids ages 7-12 and 13 – 17 in our after school programs, plus play games, read, and do other fun activities with our students! No previous teaching experience required, just a desire to do your best and learn a lot along the way.

Please apply online at www.lightandleadership.org. You’ll see our Online Application under the Volunteer tab. Please apply asap, we need you! For more information: http://bit.ly/1Kizuv4

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Where are They Now: Sarah

Today we are talking to one of our two time former volunteer, Sarah. She first came to Huaycan as LLI’s House Manager in July of 2010 and stayed until August of 2011. Sarah returned during May and June of 2013.

IMG_0097Sarah grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana and did her undergraduate work at Indiana University – Bloomington, where she studied Spanish and International Studies. Over the past five years, she’s been involved with several service-oriented projects and teaching opportunities. In addition to her work with LLI, Sarah did AmeriCorps with the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, taught English for a year in China, did a Permaculture design course in Thailand, and worked on farms in Ecuador. She has a passion for Latin America and hopes that her long term career path allows her to stay connected to the region.

IMG_0033Let’s hear about Sarah’s experience and what she’s upto these day.

What’s keeping you busy these days?
Currently, I am a graduate student at the University of Arizona where I study Ecological Anthropology.   I recently returned from my fieldwork in the Ecuadorian Amazon, where I was researching adaptive foodways among the Kichwa Añangu Community in Yasuni National Park. At the UA, I have worked as a Teaching Assistant, where I led discussion for a class called Race, Ethnicity and the American Dream. I am also a Research Assistant for Dr. Maribel Alvarez who is finishing a project on Sonoran Wheat. Finally, I volunteer every week at Caridad Community Kitchen.

537906_10101558789145919_276050136_n Share a favorite memory from LLI days.
One of the most remarkable trips of my life was when Lara and I traveled with Queta to her hometown of Chongos in Huancayo Province. We harvested the most colorful corn I have ever seen; ate Queta’s mom’s delicious food cooked over fire (and drank a little bit of anisado ), practiced braiding corn husks for preservation, learned how to make salsa de huancayo with a mortar and pastel, hung out with guinea pigs and lambs, and put Queta’s mom up to the task of finding me a husband with a chacra (farm), among many other special moments. Queta is truly a remarkable women, who always goes above and beyond for the volunteers at LLI. It was such an honor to be able to meet her family and share this experience with her.

IMG_0253 What activities were you engaged in at LLI?
As the House Manager I had several responsibilities, which largely centered around managing the volunteer house. I was also responsible for coordinating field trips for volunteers each week, which was an absolute blast. I also taught several classes, including English in Zone Z and Conversation Class in Zone D. Some of the most rewarding projects I participated in was restarting the Women’s Empowerment Program with Franzie (a fellow volunteer), initiating the youth English Class in Zone S, and establishing the Women’s Computer Class in Zone D. When I returned in 2013, I also had the opportunity to host gardening workshops, build a compost pile in Zone Z, and help build the garden in Zone S.

705013_437996522963228_1563227827_oDo you feel your experience with LLI has helped your career path or your personal development? If so, tell us how!
Serving with LLI was undoubtedly a life changing experience for me. It was there that I really discovered my passion for both teaching and service oriented work. My experience definitely gave me the skills and confidence to pursue other volunteer opportunity such as AmeriCorps and WorldTeach – China. While I am currently in graduate school, I often reflect on my time with LLI when I think about my long term “career” options. I know for a fact that what I loved about my work in Huaycan is that it had applied purpose and true value for participants and volunteers. I know that as I move into the future, I want to ensure that whatever work I end up doing is firmly grounded in these ideals.

Are you still in touch with any past LLI volunteers? Who?
Fortunately, Facebook serves as a great platform for staying connected to lots of volunteers. Currently, I am living far away from my many friends in LLI, but a few years ago I did a backpacking trip through Europe where I actually met up with LLI volunteers along my entire trip.   I saw David Smerdon in Amsterdam, Franzie Weil in Berlin, Mimosa Lindstrom in the Amsterdam and Finland, Lorene Mermin in France, and Ellie Lowe, Christine Garcia, Tara Reardon (Cato), and Edd Elliott in England. I have also been able to see lots of volunteers at Alpaca Parties and other celebrations (i.e. Lara’s Wedding!)

Would you like to give a shoutout to a dear friend from LLI and leave a nice message for them to read on our blog and make their day?
I want to give a huge shoutout to all of our staff: Queta, Dina, Oscar and Tito! Les extraño mucho y gracias por todo, siempre estaré muy agradecida por su ayuda y amistad. También, a las señoras de mi clase de compu (Queta, Ana, Ruth, Violeta, Silvia, y Margarita), espero que están super bien y que podemos comer un ceviche muy rico tan pronto como posible. A mis locos de la “S,” siguen estudiando y aprovechando siempre. A la señora Elena, gracias por todo, eres una señora tremenda.

IMG_0680 In 5 words describe your experience with LLI.
Service, Education, Community, Adventure, Fun


5 random facts about yourself :)

  1. My two favorite activities in the world are hiking and eating
  2. On two separate occasions I performed songs in Spanish in front of more than 3,000 people in China (for the record I am a terrible singer)
  3. I know how to heard and milk cows, despite having grown up in the city (thanks to Ecuador, I’m also good at farming with a machete!)
  4. I have eaten a live palm grub and a lot of fried insects (the insects were good, the giant grub… not so much)
  5. In Arizona, there was a newspaper article published about my love of running stairs (which I also did frequently in Huaycan on the foothill with the gardens)  IMG_0366

LLI has been a success because of dedicated and passionate volunteers like you, Sarah. We all miss you and wish you the very best!!

Where Are They Now: Donnella- 2012

Meet our former volunteer, Donnella, from  Auckland, New Zealand. She studied psychology at university and visited LLI in the summer holidays part way through her degree, for about two months (January and February 2012).

Currently Donnella lives in Wellington. She’s just finished her honors degree in psychology and is working at an organization that helps university students get jobs to support themselves during their studies. She also work as a volunteer for a phone counseling organization and really enjoys it. About her future plans: “My partner and I are just about to leave New Zealand and start traveling around Europe; we’re hoping to eventually settle and find work in England or Spain.”

While at LLI Donnella mostly taught English, but also did some Adult Literacy, Maths and Art classes, as well as one-on-one English tutoring.

A favorite memory from LLI days. 

It’s hard to pick a favorite memory but I think it would have to be the last lesson I had in Los Alamos, where the kids threw a leaving party for me and we had a huge dance session– that was really special.

los alamos party
Donnella’s farewell dance party with LLI kids.

Do you feel your experience with LLI has helped your career path or your personal development? If so, tell us how!

Even though I’m not planning to go into teaching/education, I definitely think LLI has helped with my career path and personal development – it made me much more confident communicating with people and I think the skills I developed working for LLI will absolutely help me in my life and chosen career (psychology/therapy).

Are you still in touch with any past LLI volunteers? Who? 

I’m still in contact with the LLI volunteers every so often, and one of the girls I lived with when I was with LLI actually visited NZ a couple of years ago so we were able to meet up again, which was lovely. I’m hoping to catch up with a couple of LLI people while I’m in Europe too.

grad photo
Recently Graduated!!

Congatulations on your graduation, Donnella!! Best of luck for the forthcoming adventures from entire LLI family :)

Yoga Instructors Needed

We are seeking Yoga instructors as volunteers for September and onwards in 2015 and for many available dates in 2016! Prior experience teaching yoga is required. Basic Spanish is strongly encouraged, specifically Yoga terminology!

Please apply online at www.lightandleadership.org. You’ll see our Online Application under the Volunteer tab. Please apply asap, we need you!

For more information: http://bit.ly/1KQuXhG

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American Culture Night at Teen Center

On July 4th, we hosted an American Culture Night for the teens at the Teen Center in honor of American Independence Day.


The event was a contest, with the teens breaking off into 4 groups of 5-7 teens. Then they each went to a station. There was a scavenger hunt, where Jocelyn cut out pictures from magazines that were related to celebrities, foods, media, and other things that had to do with the USA. The teens had to hunt down the pictures hidden in the bookshelves and then match them to their description (so if there was a picture of Ellen DeGeneres and it asked for the host of a talk show).

DSC_0945 DSC_0951We also had a American food station, where the teens had to guess what the food was called by the description or glue. There was also a test taste component.


The trivia station involved the teens studying a map of all the states then having to fill in another one from memory.


The last station was a music station with popular American songs/artists (Britney Spears, Village People, YMCA, Let it Go…) and the teens were played the first 10-30 seconds of a song and they had to guess the artist and the title. Overall the night was successful; both the teens and the volunteers helping out with the event.




Art of Zentangle

Last week in Zone Z 232 our art teacher Sarah taught kids the art of  Zentangle. It’s a meditative art that focuses on repeated patterns to create a unique and creative piece. Zentangle is easy to learn, relaxing and fun way to engage children.

IMG_2722 IMG_2732 IMG_2733 IMG_2734 IMG_2736

Where Are They Now: Eleanor

Meet Eleanor our one of very dear former volunteers from London. Elle, as everybody calls her,  first joined LLI in February 2010 and stayed with us until July 2010. She came back in April 2011 and stayed until August 2011.

Screen Shot 2015-06-28 at 6.12.50 PMElle studied Spanish at school and then at University, and always had a love of anything Latin American. Her first visit was at the age 18 when she went to live in Costa Rica for 6 months.
At present Elle is a social worker in London, working with children of all ages who are at risk of harm, and she works on implementing plans to address those risks and improve their situation.

Today we are taking a trip to the memory lane with Elle and welcome you to join us :)

Favorite memory from LI days?

Literally almost all of my memories are favourites. One particular one was havine Irene (the 73 (now probs 77) year old woman from Zone Z read her first sentence in Spanish after taking my literacy class.

Screen Shot 2015-06-28 at 6.12.59 PM

What classes did you teach at LLI?

I did some English teaching, more so in my first stint. We did conversation club with the older ones. I became involved in the Women’s Group in my first stint, but got much more into it in my second, coordinating a lot of the activities and sessions. The organisation has progressed astronomically since I was there, and now there are roles covered by all different people, however at the time I was there, I was a bit of a jack of all trades and helped out with many of the projects.

Do you feel your experience with LLI has helped your career path or your personal development? If so, tell us how!

LLI was the reason I decided to become a social worker. I found that working directly with people and supporting them to affect change in their own lives was the most incredible thing, and I returned and applied straight away for my Masters in Social Work.

Are you still in touch with any past LLI volunteers? Who?
Yes I am in touch with many of the past volunteers:
Amy, Bridget, Dana, Cristina, Ash, Chris, Gladys, Mimo, Meri, Whitney, Sarah, Sara (x2),

Screen Shot 2015-06-28 at 6.12.43 PM

Would you like to give a shoutout to a dear friend from LLI and leave a nice message for them to read on our blog and make their day?

Meri – Roomie! I miss you. Hope you’re getting on well, have you finally finished your degree(s)? Learnt anay more languages!? Have such fond memories of that first stint in LLI. Lots of love, Ellie xx

In 5 words describe your experience with LLI.
Immensely enjoyable
friends for life

Screen Shot 2015-06-28 at 6.12.17 PM
5 random facts about yourself :)

My nickname at LLI was BG (British girl) because i was the first and only Brit there during my time.
I have a degree in Economics but couldn’t tell you the most basic principles!
I’ve recently taken up indoor rock climbing
My two closest friends at LLI were both over 9 inches taller than me (Lara and Amy)
I chose LLI out of a number of NGO’s because it said it had a roof terrace on the top of the house (in their first house)

We love you Elle! You’ll always be the dearest British Girl of our team :)