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Emma Heijmans

Posted Jan 27, 2016 8:45 PM by  Stephanie Sprague

Emma Heijmans
Emma Heijmans
Cross-Cultural Solutions

I spent my gap year volunteering with Cross-Cultural Solutions in Lima, Peru. CCS is an international organization that organizes volunteering trips all-over the world. There are a lot of opportunities for people who want to take a gap year and all the options seem awesome, I actually decided I wanted to volunteer abroad for my Gap year during a trip to India. India was the first trip ever I took outside of Europe, and it opened up a whole new world for me. I saw a lot of great things, but I also a lot of poverty and inequality which made me realize how privileged I am. That’s why I decided I wanted to give something back. Cross-Cultural Solutions was the perfect organization for this! Not only do they offer different volunteering projects, but they also offer a lot of cultural activities, such as (guided) visits to historical sites, dancing classes, cooking classes etc. Since Spanish is one of the main languages in Peru, we also had Spanish class twice a week. The teacher was amazing and she taught me more than any other teacher ever did. Thanks to her, I was pretty fluent after three months! I was volunteering in a pre-school in a really poor district of Lima called Villa el Salvador. I was working with the kids age 3-5 every morning (from about 8am to 1pm), this was the part of the day I enjoyed the most! It was absolutely amazing and I learned so much from volunteering with the teachers and students. The day before my departure, the school organized a big party to say goodbye to me with dancing, music and cake. I was so sad to be leaving, I am still in contact with the teachers and I even skype with them during their classes so I can see all the kids again! CCS Peru allows volunteers to take one day off for every two weeks of volunteering. Thanks to that, I was able to spend an amazing four days in the Amazon Rain forest with another CCS volunteer from Portugal who has become one of my best friends. Spending three months in Lima completely changed my life. I came back to Belgium a whole new person, with new insights, deeper reflections and an even bigger urge to go volunteering once more!

Topics: Gap, Gap Year Program, Travel


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