Henry Holm, GapBreak, Peru
It’s been a couple of years since I got back from volunteering in Cuzco, Peru and I still wish I was back there. Since I returned home I’ve seldom had any experience as challenging or as exciting as I did with Antips. My Antipodeans placement infected me with the travel “bug” as well as opening my eyes to a world outside of Sydney, Australia.
I really enjoyed how challenging the Antips placement was. There’s no question that being thrown in front of a class of 6 year old Peruvian children is difficult. As is trying to coordinate the construction of a new computer classroom. I’d never had a chance to teach or be involved in a construction project before but loved the experience. While its a challenging program you have so many laughs along the way with the other Antipodeans volunteers it makes it all worthwhile. Our In-Country Agent, Arlich, was a great support as well and helped us navigate cultural and linguistic boundaries. We could always rely on Arlich to help us out and come for a beer as well!
The other highlight was of course all the great opportunities and activities we had to fill our free time. With Cuzco being somewhat of a backpacker hub for South America there was never a dull moment. Weekend activities involved paragliding, white-water rafting, horseback riding amongst other things. Our wonderful host families were more than happy to show us around town and also very keen to involve us in their lives. Then there were the adventures we had as a group to Lake Titticaka, Bolivia and riding river-boats down the Amazon! These trips were great preparation for the independent travel we did after the placement finished. I was stoked to find that an
Antips placement is a great chance to meet some fantastic travelling companions.
Even before Year 12, I knew that I wanted to take a gap year but hadn’t considered getting involve in a volunteer placement. Looking back, beginning my gap year with a structured placement added so much. It’s given me something to put on my resume that employers and universities really look favourably upon, it gave me a chance to experience Peruvian culture from a perspective that most backpackers never see and so many fantastic memories
Without question the biggest thing I took away from the Antipodeans placement was a bunch of great mates. Being so far from home and in a place so different means you forge deep friendships pretty quickly. Even now we make the effort to get together every month or so. Its been so nice to have a circle of such close friends separate from my high school and university friends. Having made those friendships while being able to contribute to a community in need was a priceless experience!