“Yeah, you can go!” was not the kind of response I expected from my mother, who has been extremely strict ever since I was young, when I asked if I could go on a volunteering trip to a country that is tremendously far away from home – Peru. No one in my family seemed surprised about my decision – I went on my first volunteering trip to Taiwan when I was 15 and hopped on a plane to the UK to study abroad when I was 16. Travelling to the distant Peru sounds fairly reasonable, given my previous travels.
My older sister must be the most excited of them all. Peru holds a special place in our hearts, since it was where our all-time favourite Disney movie, ‘The Emperor’s New Groove’, was set. Ironically, that was the only thing I knew about Peru and Cusco, the city I am heading to. I decided to dig in for a little research and turns out, Cusco was claimed to be a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983. It was once the capital city of the Inca Empire back in the 13th century and it is now one of the most popular tourist destinations in Peru.
The main reason behind Cusco’s attractiveness is due to how easy it is to trek down to magnificent Machu Picchu from here. I also found out about the charm of the Rainbow Mountains, which I had not heard about before my research.
As a partnership with the school of AMA, this trip requires me to prepare a number of workshops focussed around the media as well as some conversational English classes. I came across some articles arguing that any kind of volunteering involving teaching English is considered to be unethical since it is just another form of cultural imperialism. As a foreigner whose first language is not English, I simply disagree.
Although it is clearly wrongful to deem English as the ‘universal language’, knowing English has opened many opportunities for me to learn more about the world or even for the world to learn more about me. Teaching these children English means giving them the key to access the world they did not have the chance to explore in the past.
Christmas is around the corner so I may be the only one who is excited for summer to come!