No more lomo saltado, it’s back to beans-on-toast!
After almost a whole day’s worth of travelling, we returned to the United Kingdom in high spirits, looking forward to seeing our family, friends and loved ones and getting back to our everyday lives – whether that would be 9am lectures at university, long days buried under paperwork in an office or planning trips across Europe.
But even though each of us have gone our separate ways and will be focussing on something new in the coming weeks, it is important to recognise our commitment to Progressio didn’t end as soon we stumbled into Passport Control. Now our attention turns to our UK action.
All volunteers are required to log 20 hours of work over the next six months, raising awareness of development, their experiences overseas and the organisations they have been working with both home and abroad.
This can be done in a variety of ways. While some will address hundreds with presentations at their local schools, colleges and universities and talk to journalists at their local newspaper or radio station, others will run marathons, organise art exhibitions and film nights amongst other innovative ways to spread the word.
I am not yet certain how I will approach the UK action. I feel as though it would be consistent with what I have experienced on the project to continue to step out of my comfort zone and challenge myself. But the frightening prospect of eating nothing but oranges for the next six months means I’m not rushing to a decision and giving it all some careful consideration!
This is arguably the most difficult aspect of the project for ICS volunteers. We are like the England football team returning home from a major tournament. We have the public to answer to. We will be questioned and placed under scrutiny, not simply greeted with admiration and warm applause. We have a point to prove. They will question the value of our volunteer experiences and we won’t be able to deny them an answer.
In the current economic climate, development work is under a watchful eye so our UK action mustn’t be undercooked. The passion, positivity and determination of our group to initiate change in Villa El Salvador was uplifting and the challenge exists for us to continue in that same vein here, starting with our return volunteer day on April 21st.
‘What was the point?’ will be the question on the tip of the tongues of everyone we meet and greet in the coming weeks.
Let’s give them a resounding answer.
By Jourdan Rhule, a Progressio ICS volunteer in Villa El Salvador, Peru. Photo: volunteer Meryl Noronka holding a certificate about her placement.