I enjoy the enjoyable nostalgia and sentimentality that traditions and anniversaries can bring, no matter how trivial the occasion may be. That being said, I thought it very appropriate to write about today’s blog post on this particular day. Today marks my fifth month of living in Peru. It can also be said that it is my midpoint regarding my gap year/time living in Peru. For those who have been reading from the very beginning of this little blog and the friends and family who have supported me from the very start of this experience, it may be confusing to hear that five months is a midpoint, when considering my original timeline. However, said plans have changed.
The original timeline for my gap year was to stay in Peru from September to early April, so that I could have time to come back to the US and visit any colleges I might have had the opportunity to visit. As I went through the application process this past fall and the list of colleges to which I made application narrowed, I realized that it would be a challenge to visit the majority of them due to finances, let alone surpass the difficulty of even receiving admission in the first place. So that plan was 86’d. More so, I felt that living and working here was (and is) incredibly fulfilling and special, and that cutting it short would result in cutting myself short from experiencing this unique time of my life. At that point, my seven month stay turned into eight. Not a big deal. However, as earlier implied, my once seven month stay has changed to a ten month stay (with a return date no later than the second week of June). The decision to stay longer was not an easy one – the main factor being finances.
Essentially, my work with Building Dignity is not being funded by my personal finances. Last year, I received an Omprakash Ambassador Travel Grant which pays for travel and living expenses. (Read more about Omprakash here). When I was applying for the grant and figuring out the logistics of taking a gap year to work with Building Dignity, I wrote a budget that accommodated for a seven month stay, not knowing that I would end up staying for an additional three. Additionally, soon after I received the grant, I learned that I would be living in an arrangement that for me, was significantly more than what I was anticipating and had planned for. That hiccup has resulted in a shift in budget and subsequently, bigger shift in money needed to support more time here. Understandably, I will not be able to receive additional grant money, so I am looking to you; friends, family and supporters.
I am aiming to raise an additional $1,500 which will be take care of my flight back home and the living and travel expenses for my extended stay. Earlier in my gap year journey, I began a fundraiser on YouCaring and I have decided to continue using that platform for this fundraiser. To make a donation and or check out the site click here.
But why stay longer if it’s causing so much trouble regarding such a difficult and sensitive topic? I asked myself the same thing, but after introspection and some serious study of my budget excel spreadsheets, I realized that I would simply do whatever it took. If that means fundraising online and tutoring here in Peru, then so be it. I’m not sure if I will propose I take on the cup of noodles/ramen diet to save change, but if it gets to that point, I will make the sacrifice. (Although I’m fairly certain there are more economic ways of feeding oneself, without the excessive sodium…)
Recent developments and responsibilities that have been delegated to me have also influenced my decision to stay. As of last week, the man who was teaching the music workshops had to leave the CEDED volunteer family due to a work opportunity outside of the city. Subsequently, I am now in charge of the music program. It’s still hard to believe and sounds strange when I read the previous sentence out loud. Nevertheless, extending the amount of time I stay will be beneficial to the fortification and growth of the music program.
To put it plainly, I love what I’m doing. The reality that I have to come home and go to college was and is ever-present and I don’t resent it at all – I’m quite excited about it really – but at the same time, it makes me want to stay for as long as I possibly can before then. (I already have a feeling that I will very much rue the day when I have to get on a plane back to San Francisco, so selfishly I’m also sort of trying to delay that whole situation.) But more than that, I want to stay because I love the work I’m doing, the family I live with, the volunteers I have befriended and community I have gotten to know over the past five months.
It’s difficult for me to ask for such a personal gift in the most impersonal way (aka via blog post), but I hope that my sincerity transcends the digital wall of the interweb and into your hearts. Aw. But honestly, I am incredibly thankful for everyone’s support and as a small token of my gratitude, I will be glad to bring back a little gift from Peru to any and all donors that support this fundraising effort. I will even really, really, be more diligent about my blog posts and share more pictures. I mean serious business.
If you have any questions, feel free to email, Facebook message and the like. So until next time, thanks for reading!