Peru was the first country in Latin America that I ever visited. I had previously thought of it as a tourist destination, one I longed to visit. Yet, the opportunity to work there for two years had never occurred to me.
At the time the opportunity was presented to me I was in a moment when I felt professionally stuck, I couldn't find my way, and although with some hesitation, given the long distance with my family and friends, I decided to accept it. My expectations before arriving were a mixture between what I had read and heard, and what I had been told. However, now I realize that nothing, but my own experience could have given me a rough idea of what I was going to experience.
The First Step into the District of Callao
Peru was my first step into the field. In the district of Callao, Lima, I worked as a social program coordinator in the area of integral development for vulnerable communities. At Fundación Integración Comunitaria, together with my team, we implemented a health promotion program, focused mainly on preventing malnutrition during infancy, and providing mental health support for teenagers and the elderly. We also dedicated our efforts to protect and guarantee children’s education, and on the training and personal development of groups of young people and women. My greatest professional challenge was always knowing how to identify and determine the real needs of the population and finding innovative and long-lasting solutions for the identified problems.
"I learned that the most precious thing in those difficult moments was always the kindness of the people who accompanied me"
After these two years, I can honestly say that I wish I had known everything that I know now, but I also believe that all the learning could not have been done without facing the situations that I had to face. Feeling alone on many occasions, not finding my place, and coping with the process of adaptation to a different culture, were both, the most complicated aspects of this experience, and my greatest lesson. I learned that the most precious thing in those difficult moments was always the kindness of the people who accompanied me. I relied on my family and friends, but also my work colleagues, who really helped me in my adaptation process and played a very important role on my mental well-being during the past two years.
In Peru, I discovered that alongside the professional challenge, there were also my greatest personal challenges, and at that moment, I was able to appreciate how truly rewarding this experience was for me.