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.
Sarah 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.
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.
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.
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.
Do 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.
5 random facts about yourself 🙂
- My two favorite activities in the world are hiking and eating
- 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)
- 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!)
- I have eaten a live palm grub and a lot of fried insects (the insects were good, the giant grub… not so much)
- 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)
LLI has been a success because of dedicated and passionate volunteers like you, Sarah. We all miss you and wish you the very best!!