Caroline in Cusco
Full time student by day, pilates instructor by night, and part time administrative assistant for Midwest Language Services in the moments in between – Caroline does it all! Though she never traveled much growing up (“I was one of seven kids…our vacations consisted of going to Indiana in our 15-passenger van”), she has worked hard to make cultural experiences a part of her life. Following high school, she spent 5 months in Turkey, finding time to travel to Ireland and Mexico as well.
She now studies Anthropology and Global International Studies at IUPUI, so spending three weeks of her summer volunteering in Cusco, Pero with Love Volunteers was a natural decision.
Love Volunteers provides volunteers with life-changing international experience in developing countries. They work in many areas – from childcare to community development to wildlife and everything in-between. Caroline, having always been passionate about women’s rights, applied for their Women’s Empowerment program in Peru. Two weeks before her trip. she received her final placement and it wasn’t what she thought.
Caroline discovered she was going to be working at a shelter with young moms (age 13-18) who had been sexually abused and had nowhere else to go. “I didn’t know if I was emotionally ready for this work” Caroline said. But (to no one’s surprise but her own), she was completely competent. Being one of the only volunteers who spoke Spanish, she found herself communicating with the director and receiving instructions for the group. Throughout her time, she worked both with the children at the shelter and the moms themselves, as they worked to find outside income or educational opportunities. Though these women had survived incredible trauma, Caroline encountered hope and vivacity through their stories.
“Despite the hardships I knew these women had – they were all just so young – these mothers had a joy about them that couldn’t be diminished.”
Throughout the rest of her time at IUPUI, Caroline plans to continue to see the world. “I have learned to live a very minimalist life so that I can use my savings to travel” she says. In the future, her dream is to become an ethnologist - taking field notes in different cultures and documenting different religions, customs, and languages. But, for now, she is here at the Switchboard and we are so thankful. If you bump into her, be sure to ask her about her incredible and impactful experiences.