Phi Eta Sigma’s Treasurer explores Peru’s culture

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Paige Kearley not only left behind Peru’s culture, but she left behind the close bond that was created in her host community.

“This summer I volunteered in Huancayo, Peru with the organization Expand Peru through the Global Scholars program offered by FSU’s Center for Undergraduate Research and Academic Engagement.

My mornings were spent as a teacher assistant in a school for children with special needs, and my afternoons were spent at an after-school program in a rural farming village further away from the city.

I had an amazing time learning about Peru’s culture, meeting volunteers from around the world, and creating memories that helped shape my views. Peruvians love to party. Over the summer, there was a holiday every other week, and my school celebrated by dancing and eating all day.

The afternoon program was less structured and the children were aged 2 to 13. One of my favorite memories from that school was when all of the girls wanted me to teach them dances. They were obsessed with “Single Ladies” by Beyonce, so they wanted me to teach them the dance; I tried, but I am not much of a choreographer.

One of the girls, who earlier was being sassy as 13 year olds do, wanted to keep dancing so I started teaching her ballet. I taught her the five positions and how to turn properly, teaching her was not only fun, but also a turning point for me in Peru. I found a way to connect with the girls other than speaking, and remembered how much I love to dance.

Being in one city for two months, meant that I truly learned and grew with the community and natives, especially my students. Also, I was able to meet multiple different groups of volunteers like a group of friends from London and another group from Valencia.

It was great meeting people with different point of views to help broaden my ideas past the United States and Peru. I learned about the differences in education like how in most European countries their majors in university are more specialized. My two months in Peru have taught me more about the world, myself, and life than in all of 20 years combined.”