Living in a Volunteer Community
Strangers who became my support system.
August 16, 2016 - Peru
After days of discernment, I found myself clicking ‘send’ on my application to volunteer with NPH. I cried a few months later when I received my offer and then in January 2015 I took my first steps on the continent of South America. Peru was now my home and I couldn’t believe it. I experienced a full culture shock, my body adjusting to my new diet and my mind adapting to speaking Spanish every day. Occasionally I thought, “What had I gotten myself into?”
The beauty of volunteering with NPH was realizing that while I was experiencing all of these overwhelming emotions, I was not alone. The other volunteers had also experienced what I had felt in some way or another. Now, this year I live with four girls who are each from a different country.
These girls (from both my first and second year) are my support system. The funny thing is, not too long ago we were essentially strangers, chosen by NPH who end up sharing a life-changing experience. We are connected by our journey together as volunteers. We understand as our stomachs grumble while digesting its daily dose of rice and bread. We know what it’s like to miss a fresh plate of our favorite dishes from back home. The growing pains of adjusting to a new everything is understood by the volunteer community.
Living in a volunteer community is hard because we are not just roommates that occasionally see one another during time off. We have to be intentional, be vulnerable, and handle powerful emotions while simultaneously getting to know one another. That in itself can be complicated.
As each volunteer community looks and functions differently, the best thing to do is start the year with an open mind and an open heart. Having the opportunity to volunteer with NPH is a blessing and being able to do it alongside four, ten or how many other volunteers is an even greater one.