Hone your research skills and immerse yourself
One of the best parts of my experience working with the AASD was having the opportunity to live in a homestay. As soon as I arrived in Calca, I was warmly welcomed into the home of my host mom María and her daughter Yahaira. Over time, I grew close to my host family, and I became exposed to various aspects of Peruvian culture. I looked forward to dinner time in my homestay where we’d consistently have delicious Peruvian dishes, and share stories from our days. Not only did my host family give me the opportunity to practice my Spanish, but I was really made to feel like a member of their family.
Working with people instead of numbers and statistics pushed me to become more adaptable and flexible while doing fieldwork. We often had to adapt to new situations with limited resources, and yet, I am proud to say that we overcame every challenge along the way. Additionally, learning how to work and think as a team was one of my main takeaways from this experience. We found the fine balance between ‘divide and conquer’ and ‘group thinking’ and we made it our biggest strength. Finally, the staff from the AASD and the work environment made my experience unforgettable. They were energetic, accommodating, understanding, and super approachable. In short, it was an amazing experience that I would highly recommend to anyone seeking to get out of their comfort zones and gain exposure to the real world.
Interning for the Andean Alliance taught me how to open my mind, build relationships with people from other cultures, and embrace the process just as much as the end result. It was an amazing balance between adventure and work, as we got to explore the Sacred Valley and engage with several different communities in only three weeks. Ultimately, the AASD allowed me to develop a much deeper perspective about the meaning of development – I had learned about it in classes, but seeing how development works in real communities made what I had learned in class much more interesting, tangible, and complex.