Jenny Argyle - 2017 Program Participant

What inspired you to study abroad in South America?

I study geography and development studies, so South America really interested me.

Why did you choose IVHQ specifically?

I liked the close-knit feel of Tarpuy Sonqo. I liked the English program they had, and since I study English, I wanted to teach English as a second language.

Girl overlooking Inca ruins in Peru
Inca Ruins on the Inca Trail

What was your favorite part about Lima?

Lima has lots of different activities to do everyday, such as paragliding, surfing, Parque Del Amor, and many museums. It is a lively city which also has many bars and clubs to go to as well.

What made your experience abroad unique?

The people I volunteered with were awesome! We did lots of cool activities, like salsa dancing, swimming at the beach, and shopping in local markets, so it was a very authentic experience. Also, the area I taught in and the students I had influenced my positive outlook on my experience.

How did local staff support you throughout your program?

The teaching coordinator was really friendly and willing to help. The head of communications made moving into the volunteer house easy and stress-free.

What was your accommodation like? What did you like best about it?

The volunteer house had a local family in it, which made it a really authentic experience. The food was all provided for us, and there was free wifi and snacks. There was also easy access to helpful information about the city.

Describe a typical day in the life of your program.

I was teaching in the summer, so I participated in the summer school program. We would leave at 7:15 a.m. and take the bus to the school we volunteered at. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays I taught intermediate level English students (other teachers taught beginners and advanced). This involved taking students through a workbook and teaching planned vocab and grammar related exercises. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I taught 3-5 year olds (other teachers taught ages up to 12), which involved learning basic English, teaching art, and physical activity.

What did you enjoy doing in your free time?

In my free time, I enjoyed exploring attractions in Lima, such as the beach, museums and markets. It was 1 sole to take the bus to almost anywhere in Lima. I also enjoyed just hanging out with the other volunteers.

Volunteer teaching in Lima, Peru
Teaching in Lima

What surprised you most about Peru?

The heat! It was over 30 degrees celsius most days.

What is one thing you wish you would have known before volunteering abroad in Peru?

As cheesy as it sounds, I wish I knew that I would enjoy it so much, that way I would have allowed myself more time to stay longer.

What was the hardest part about volunteering abroad?

The language! I studied a bit of Spanish in preparation, but it's different learning from a book and then trying to learn in person. Thankfully a spanish teacher was available to help me out.

How difficult was it to communicate with locals in your limited Spanish?

Locals usually were really friendly and made an effort to practice their English with me anyway, so it was slow going but not impossible. I also wanted to practice my Spanish with them and they were usually really helpful, so it was way easier than I thought it would be.

What's one thing you wish you would have done differently? 

I would have liked to stay longer than two weeks because I enjoyed my stay so much.

Do you have any packing tips for individuals headed to Peru?

If you are wanting to travel around be prepared for all weather. That means thick rain coats and warm clothes as well as thin cotton shirts for the warmer weather. Also, make sure what you are wearing is relatively conservative as it is a generally conservative country.

Small plane on the runway in Peru
Flight over the Nazca Lines!

What do you feel the biggest benefit of volunteering abroad is?

You meet new people, learn new skills, learn more about yourself, and ultimately you have the satisfaction of knowing that you benefitted other people's lives too no matter how small the impact.

How has your time abroad impacted your life?

I am now more interested in teaching English as a second language, so I have enrolled in a ESOL course so I can teach more in New Zealand and eventually around the world.

Would you recommend your program to others? Why?

Yes! Because I had a stress-free, enjoyable experience and I felt like I made an impact on society through the students I taught.

What is one thing every participant should know before participating in your program?

Be prepared for the end because it is hard to leave.

If you could volunteer abroad again, where would you go?

I think Mexico would be cool, because the culture is so rich. I am also interested in Nepal, as the culture and the landscape looks beautiful.