By Jennifer Tridgell
Jenny Tridgell is a current GLP student studying for a Bachelor of Arts with Bachelor of Laws. Over the last few weeks she has been documenting her experience on PACE International’s ‘Peru’s Challenge’project. For Jenny’s previous posts see her articles here
On Monday, Wednesday and Friday of each week, Macquarie students teach English, Art and Sport at Quilla Huata. The school is divided into two classes, with a Kindergarten/Grade One and Two and an upper primary composite. Since our program is during the summer holidays, we are running a summer school program for around 40 children from Quilla Huata. Currently, there are around 80 children enrolled at the school. The hope is that with the completion of the next classroom by our Macquarie group, another 40 children will be able to attend and receive an education.
Teaching in the classroom made for a steep learning curve, particularly for those of us who do not come from a teaching background. After slightly disorganised lessons in the first week, we embraced the feedback of the teachers and did a lot more preparation. People stayed up late on week-nights to cut up paper body-parts, make labels for the storeroom and organise lesson materials. Each Sunday night, we had a class planning session to organise the teacher roster and lesson plans. English and Art classes had a theme for each week, with animals for Week Two and colours for Week Three. For art in the kindergarten class, the children loved painting butterflies, making paper-plate frogs and beading bracelets. Even days later, girls and boys ran up to me to show me their bracelets.
These last few weeks have been about gaining new skills, like learning how to control young children despite a language barrier. The key to this is: body language, hand movements and researching key terms in Spanish the night before. Flexibility has also been important. For example, on one day Laurence and Liz had just hopped in the car to leave for Quilla Huata when they were told that they were teaching high school students at Pumamarca that day. Also, whenever someone has been sick, one of us has had to jump in to fill the space on the health and hygiene, fruit preparation or teaching teams.
Peru´s Challenge is about helping the local communities during the week and exploring the beautiful Andean terrain on the weekends. We visited Cusco, Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu on consecutive weekends and loved every minute. For most, Machu Picchu was one for the bucket list and a highlight of the trip. It was a perfect moment when the fog lifted and we could see the perfectly-aligned walls and thatched rooves of Machu Picchu with a baby llama wandering its grassy terraces.
As Jenny has mentioned, participating in this PACE project has given Jenny invaluable life skills in planning and organisation as well as the opportunity to network with like-minded individuals and make a positive difference to a community. If you’d like to have your own experience with PACE there are projects in countries such as India, or Cambodia as well as local opportunities to get involved. Check out their website here.