For the second year in a row, I am participating in a fall service-learning program with International Studies Abroad. Why? I am passionate about the outcomes of community engagement. Service-Learning is so much more than volunteering, community service, or even an internship. Service Learning is an opportunity to have a real impact on your host community while reflecting on your experience at the same time. In this blog post, I will be elaborating on what the typical day looks like as a Service Learning student in Lima, Peru.
A workday in Peru usually starts around 7:00 or 8:00 AM. I know this because that’s typically when I first hear the traffic outside of my homestay window. Lima can be a pretty busy city and my host mother, Violeta, lives in the heart of it. After I get ready for work, I tend to make it downstairs to eat breakfast by 9 AM. Breakfast in Peru essentially consists of toast and jam, fruit, and tea or coffee.
At 9:15, I catch the bus marked “Lince a Miraflores” to go to work. When I first arrived in Peru, I felt very overwhelmed by the public transportation. However, over time I managed to get used to the transportation “system.” Typically buses in Lima will only slow down to let you on if there is a red light or traffic is slow. Once you manage to get on the bus, you need to tell either the driver or the bus attendant where you’re going and the price of the bus fare is almost never the same as what it says on the ticket. My bus from the Lince district to the Miraflores district takes about 45 minutes.
Once I arrive at work, the fun begins. My favorite part of service-learning in Peru is actually getting to do what I love all while making a difference in the process. The company I work for, Life Out of Plastic, does recycling campaigns for the city of Lima and does beach clean-ups all around Peru. When I get to work, the first thing I do is find my boss, Marysol, who I report to every day. Marysol is the one who helped me coordinate my work schedule during my Service-Learning orientation. My tasks at Life Out of Plastic can vary from drafting a report on the latest debris data storage technology to going to the supermarket and analyzing their recycling advertisements. Service-Learning gives me the creative freedom to develop skills I wouldn’t normally get in the classroom.
My favorite part of the entire day is lunchtime. Around noon, I pick a spot in Miraflores near Life Out of Plastic to eat. Lima is very well known for its food. In fact, it’s the gastronomy capital of Latin America! From Lomo Saltado to Pollo a la Plancha, lunchtime will never disappoint when you are in Peru.
At 1:00 PM I get back from lunch and start working again. Then at 5:00 in the afternoon I get off. Now it’s time to hop back on the bus and ride 45 minutes back to Lince. A really cool app that I use to keep transportation safe and simple is called Moovit. Moovit uses GPS technology to track your exact location and tells you when you’re approaching your bus stop.
At 6:30 I get home from work and I’m almost always starving at this point so I sit down with my roommates Esa and Lindsey to eat dinner. Dinner in Peru usually consists of rice, beans or lentils, and meat or fish. After dinner is when the girls and I start to plan for a night of snacks and Netflix or a night out on the town.
This is the part of the night where I either start getting ready for bed or ready to go out to the club. The reason why I am getting ready at 10 and not leaving the house is because nightlife in Peru typically doesn’t start until 12 AM and can last all night until 6 AM! After a long day of Service Learning, a night of dancing can take all of the stress from the day away and is super fun.
Well, there you have it. That is a typical day in the life of a Service Learning student in Lima, Peru. However, Service Learning duties can differ depending on what your host organization specializes in. If you are considering service-learning, the important thing is to remember is to choose a program that you are passionate about. I am passionate about the environment which is why I decided to join an environmental service-learning project two years in a row. I hope that this post has helped you come to some conclusions about your future service-learning experience.
Maria Dozier is an ISA Featured Blogger at University of Florida. She is currently on a Service-Learning program in Lima, Peru.
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I will travel to Peru next 2020 and I was a bit worried about life in Lima…Now I feel better ;)
Great to see all the recycling in Lima, Peru. Sounds like a good program. Fun and rewarding.