All Hands on Deck

I’ve been trying to keep a daily journal this summer and here’s a secret: When it comes time to reflect through writing a blog post, I usually flip through my journal to remember my everyday adventures. Today, since I haven’t written a reflection since June 20th, I flipped to my entry from June 21st. I found that I was reflecting on a part of my daily routine, picking up Adrian from preschool. Here is a direct quote: “Adrian was being difficult until the father of one of his classmates bought him jello. It’s so nice that the other parents know he comes from a difficult family situation and go out of their way to “parent” him. Maybe one day he will have parents that spoil him with ice cream and jello after school.” It’s now two weeks later and in two days Adrian is going to be adopted. I walked into work yesterday and saw Lupe bathing and dressing him up to meet his parents! When she went downstairs and left me upstairs with the kids, she told me to pay special attention to Adrian and make sure he didn’t cry. Mauricio was only two years old so I doubt he is going to remember his adoption, but Adrian is four and I can tell that he knows what is going on. Yesterday morning, he wanted to climb on me, sit on me, and play with my jacket zipper. I could tell that he was nervous. Also, I saw a book that his parents gave him filled with photos of them and his future house. I could tell how much they already love him. This morning, whenever Lupe would ask him, “¿Quien van a venir?” (Who’s going to come?), he would answer, “¡Mammi y Papá!” I’m so happy for Adrian and I’m so thankful that I have gotten to really get to know his amazing personality by picking him up from school everyday. He has made me smile a countless amount of times and I can’t even imagine how much joy he’s going to bring into the lives of his parents.

Looking at these past two weeks as a whole, I’m definitely getting a lot better at taking initiative at Amantaní. This includes everything from making the decision to wash not only the plates that I was asked to wash but also the pots and pans in the kitchen sink to constantly checking the time leading up to 12:30 so Lupe doesn’t have to go out of her way to tell me that it’s time to pick up Adrian. Last week, Lupe was on vacation so it was definitely all hands on deck with taking care of the fifteen children. I really had to take the initiative to decide where I would be most needed. For most of the week, I spent a lot of the time in the kitchen because I saw that Sra. Antonia could really use my help. Two days in a row, I was tasked with peeling potatoes. This was a lot more difficult than I expected, and I knew that I was going at a quarter of her speed. I definitely questioned whether or not I was actually helping or just slowing her down. I decided that even if I only helped a little, an extra set of hands have the power to make a task less daunting.

Furthermore, an incident that occurred last Friday really taught me a lot. I dropped Adrian off at school early on Friday morning because he had a class trip. When I dropped him off, the teacher stopped me and asked me who was accompanying him. I wasn’t sure what she was talking about. She went on to tell me that she emailed Lupe saying that someone needs to accompany on the trip. Also, the person has to be Peruvian because a passport cannot be to enter the Inca ruins they were going to visit. Because Lupe was on vacation, no one knew about this. I rushed back to Amantaní and had to communicate the problem – in Spanish – to many people. It was a huge problem since all of us volunteers are foreigners and we had very little time. We thankfully found one of the adolescents of Amantaní to take him. This incident made me realize how truly invested I am in the happiness of every one of the children. It also shed light on another level of difficulties that the administrative side of Amantaní faces, giving me even more respect for the directors. Moreover, it showed me how much I have improved in my Spanish abilities since I had to communicate the problem quickly, repeatedly, and efficiently.

Now that we’ve surpassed the midway point I’d like to reflect on a simple question: Do I like my job? The answer is a hard YES. The feelings I have gotten seeing things like Mauricio’s adoption, Brianna being loved by her sisters, and Jossue’s smile when I pick him up from school have been incredible. Looking back on this experience, I doubt I will remember small everyday frustrations like kids screaming, crying, or refusing to eat, but I know that I will never forget the unprecedented positive emotions I have felt. Also, something that I have talked about a lot but I want to emphasize even more is how much love everyone at Amantaní has for the kids. Everything from Sra. Antonia, the cook, smiling as she watches the kids eat her cooking to volunteers working for an entire day on a costume for Adrian to wear to a special day at school shows that the kids are loved unconditionally. I’m so lucky to be a part of such a wonderful place.

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1 Response to All Hands on Deck

  1. Belle Toren says:

    As a Duke alumnus reader, I am glad to discovery with you your love, empathy and sincerity for what might be less sought after workplace in the USA. Kids with needs are everywhere. You have been given a fantastic opportunity to witness and participate in the joy and sorrows of these kids and caretakers in Cuzco and to develop a fuller understanding of their culture. What a treat, which will hopefully serve to deepen your maturity and empathy for others and their cultures in your future endeavors and adventures.

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