Fundraising 2.0

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!


Beats and Rests

During the last cycle of programs, Voices of Youth was also being brought to a neighboring community called Oasis. In an effort to strengthen our relationship with the kids who participated in Voices of Youth, this summer we have started doing other workshops as well. Every day (except for Sunday) there is a workshop. In the past, I rarely went to Oasis due to conflicts in schedules, but with the new summer programming I’ve been going a couple of times a week. Said conflict was the fact that I had music in La Encantada while Voices of Youth in Oasis ran at the same time. That still holds true today, but now I get to go to Oasis on Fridays for their music workshop.

Last Friday was the first class of this summer and it went really well. Emily, Niko and me were there as well as the twenty-seven kids who came. It was a big group, especially compared to the groups in La Encantada of usually no more than ten. We split into three groups, guitar, cajon and violin. The violin group  consisted of older kids who specifically asked for violin, and the rest of the group was divided between Niko and I, for cajon and guitar, respectively. It went pretty smooth and everyone enjoyed that week’s lesson about how to read music.

This week was a little different. With Emily traveling on business and Niko having left to continue with his travels, I thought it was going to be just me. But luckily, Andy, who has been teaching guitar in La Encantada was available to help out. Even after doing a myriad of workshops with Interact, class presentations in school and even more recently, helping a little with lesson plans for Voices of Youth, I had never doing anything like write a lesson plan essentially from scratch for this two-hour class. It was challenging, but I found a lot of help from reflecting on what types of activities I did in school. For example, one review activity I had the kids do was inspired by a game my Calculus teacher taught me last year.

Today’s lesson was about beats and rests. The main activity was a make-your-own song type thing. Each small group got a long strip of poster paper with a music staff that had five measures on it. With the small packet of cut out notes and rests, each team had to create their own song so that each measure had the correct number of beats in each one. Each correct measure was five points and each error was minus one. I even threw in some bonus points for having a title for their song and or if they could play it! These kids love competition therefore, the game was automatically more interesting. One mistake I had made was not practicing what it sounds like for each different type of note (whole note, half note, quarter note, etc) for enough time, so the lesson might not have sunk in as well as it could have. Nonetheless, the kids caught on and they had a good time.

The past few weeks have consisted of many days that started early in the morning and ended late at night and sometimes work was brought home (i.e. music in Oasis). But even so, I think that they have been some of the most successful weeks of programming that I’ve participated in since I arrived. It may sound really self-indulgent, but really honestly every night on the short bus ride home, I think about how much I really enjoy what I’m doing and how much I will rue the day I have to go home. More often than not, that train of thought segues into something that makes me stressed out in the end because I’ve been here for almost five months and I just know that the next five will pass by even faster and how am I supposed to encourage genuine community building when I know I have to leave at some point and I don’t know if I’ll be able to visit again and then I get so caught up that I end up having to walk half a block more because I forgot to get off at the right place.

In summary, things are most definitely in full swing these days and I am trying not think about when I have to go home. (Although for curious minds, I will be coming back before the second week of June. More explanation to come soon.)


My posts have been lacking in photos lately, so I figured I’d add this one. Yesterday, Voices of Youth went on a small visit to EcoRec, a local green house/recycling organization that is helping us plant vegetables in our garden. Fun fact: EcoRec is right across the street from my house! Really, I can see almost all their plants from outside my window.

It Happened Again

Perhaps I should make one of my New Year’s resolutions to be more diligent with posting, seeing as we’re already almost two weeks into 2014 and I have yet to make a post! Nevertheless, I have not forgotten about “Notas” and I fully intend on making things more consistent this year.

It’s hard to believe that the holidays were only a few weeks ago. I spent Christmas in Lima with my host family and soon after, traveled by bus to Guayaquil, Ecuador for New Year’s. The primary reason that I went out of the country was so that I would be able to receive a new stamp on my passport upon returning to Peru. When I arrived in August, I had only gotten three months and I intend on staying for at least eight. Although, it was nice to be on a little vacation. 

I don’t know what I would have done with myself if I had stayed in Ecuador for any longer than I had. Essentially, I was very ready to get back to Peru and back to work. I’m also grateful to have had said attitude because this week was the first week of summer programming and it was a lot. I feel like it might have felt a little more intense because it is basically an entirely new schedule and new workshops and I haven’t gotten used to the flow, but nonetheless, it was a little bit of a marathon. That being said, it was also one of my favorite weeks of work. Every workshop was a success, despite a great increase in participant numbers at each taller, volunteer coverage worked out and everyone had a great time. This week was a great start to the summer and it makes me feel even more optimistic about what will come next.

For now, I will leave everyone with this little summary of the past few weeks. If I attempted to recount all of the events that have happened since the last time I posted, I might be writing so much that I wouldn’t go to bed until tomorrow night. (Granted, tomorrow is my day off so it is totally possible but I think I’ll pass.)