Our university volunteers share their experience

Moriah Gilhooly and Robert Yates are both a semester away from receiving their Bachelors of Science in Nursing at SUNY Brockport. They both just completed a week of volunteering with us, during which they taught health topics to nearly 200 community members in the Sacred Valley. And they’re both great photographers.

Yesterday, I had a conversation with Moriah and Robert, proud winners of our photo contest, about their experience volunteering with SVH/Ayni Wasi.

Pato pato Ganso
“Pato, pato, ganso!” (Duck, duck, goose!) by Moriah Gilhooly
Zip-lining in the Andes

What attracted you to the opportunity to come to Peru and volunteer with us?

Moriah: I always wanted to study abroad. But our nursing program is so rigorous that it was hard to figure out how to do that. So it was so convenient to have a study abroad program that fit in with our schedules, and of course it was a plus that it was in Peru.

What was your favorite part about providing health education to people in the Sacred Valley?

Robert: The kids. I loved seeing that the children enjoyed themselves learning even the simplest [health] topics.

What surprised you about teaching health in this context?

Robert: They were so willing to learn. Some of the topics, like personal hygiene, were pretty basic, and I thought they’d lose interest. But they really engaged with the material, asked questions and participated in the activities.

Moriah: If you went up to a 15-year-old in the States to teach him about brushing his teeth, he wouldn’t give you the time of day. The people we worked with were so grateful for our lessons.

Is there such a thing has having too much fun while brushing your teeth?
Is there such a thing has having too much fun while brushing your teeth?

What was most rewarding about your experience?

Moriah: Just being able to imagine the long-term impact these small lessons are going to have on the lives of [community members], especially children who are learning them early on.

Moriah (R) delivers a presentation about the changes to expect in the feminine body.

Will you return to Peru?

Moriah: I want to. My host family said they won’t baptize their son until we come back. (Laughs.)

Robert and Moriah
Robert and Moriah

Robert and Moriah spend their last day in Ollantaytambo visiting the ruins and drinking café con leche with me.

–Written by Courtney Weintraub

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