One year of international cooperation: Month 1

Publish by : Marie-Helene Couette

It has already been a month since I said goodbye to my family and left Canada with Peru as my destination. Despite a couple of delays with the flights, my arrival on the Peruvian territory went very well. Welcomed by Uniterra’s field team in Lima, I spent the first days of my year in the capital, where I attended some trainings specific to the country and prepared my departure to Tarapoto.

After less than a week on the pacific coast, I was already in the high jungle of the Amazonia, in the middle of a city completely different from the first one I had visited. The heat, the food, the views and the thousands of motos were a big contrast to the urbanism of Lima, but it felt good. Quickly, I fell in love with the place, mainly with the people.

The locals have already showed me their incredible generosity and kindness. Every day, the help me feel like I’m home and present a real interest in my well-being and my comfort. Even though I am here to share my knowledge with them, for the moment I must admit that I’m the one who is learning the most.

In two weeks, I had had my training, I had discovered Tarapoto and I had moved in my new room, which I found after many visits. The next Monday, I was showing up for my first day of work at the University César Vallejo. I was welcomed there as a new member of the family and it was hard to develop friendship with my new colleagues.

I quickly started participating in activities related to my mandate, such as presentations, visits to the communities or support to university projects. However, my biggest task this month was to elaborate my work plan. Being the first person to realize a long mandate with Uniterra and Village Monde as partners, it has been a real challenge to think of a way to organize the activities that would accommodate everyone. Thankfully, my experience as a project manager and the support I received from both organizations helped me find rapidly a solution that I was very proud to present to my manager.

As a new volunteer in the Uniterra Peru team, I also had the opportunity to socialize and meet with the other volunteers. I sincerely believe that the access to their experience and their knowledge of the place has been very reinsuring for me throughout all these new things. Already, I’m under the impression that I’ve made very good friends that I can trust, and it’s an amazing feeling.

If I must describe in one word this first month, I chose “adaptation”. Like a chameleon, I decided to start this year as an observer and act transparent. I want to understand better the reality of the locals and their systems to help them efficiently. Even if for the moment I try to be a bit more erased, I have no doubt that I will, when the time comes, share my own colors with confidence and respect.

There are eleven months left to my stay and I say to myself: “Already!?”. Everything went so fast in the last weeks that I realize with much surprise that my first month is done. I have a heavy work plan, and I feel that this year will pass very fast. I hope I can realize all the objectives that I set for myself, on a professional and a personal level. It’s still an adventure that just began, and it’s with a lot of excitement and with a positive mind that I continue the journey.

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