Volunteering in Peru
Menominee native is in an underserved area
Sunday, December 15, 2013 6:00 PM
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. - For the past month, Alyssa Cowell has spent her free time brushing up her Spanish speaking skills to fulfill her dream of wanting to serve an underserved area.
Alyssa Cowell stands on a mountain of rocks in the White Mountains in New Hampshire. Cowell, attending college for medicine, hopes to gain insight of serving in underserved areas as a volunteer in Peru.
Special to the EagleHerald
From this Sunday (Dec. 15) to Dec. 22, Cowell is volunteering on the IVHQ Peru Orphanage. She will be paired with volunteers from all over the world at a local orphanage in Lima, Peru.
IVHQ, an international volunteer organization in 19 countries, sends more than 4,000 volunteers abroad annually.
"It's something I wanted to do forever and kept putting it off," Cowell said. "Circumstances will never be completely right. If you love something, go ahead and do it."
Cowell, 25, is attending Central Michigan University College of Medicine.
Although exact activities and jobs are determined upon arrival after talking to the volunteers about their skills and preferences, Cowell hopes her volunteer work in Peru will enlighten her about what it's like to serve the underserved, rural areas of the country.
"It does have a pretty good correlation of what I want to do in the future and I will learn about what needs are in this area," Cowell said.
Cowell studied abroad one time in New Zealand and was able to view the countryside by hiking.
"It was not exactly an underserved country," she said.
To prepare for this trip, Cowell increased her Spanish vocabulary and improved her grammar.
This is her first time volunteering.
"It will be interesting to see what the needs are," said Cowell, who may work with children, play games or even wash dishes. "I am so excited to just volunteer. I think advancing my Spanish skill will be helpful as well."
Chelsea Green, program coordinator at International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ), said volunteers are asked to come to the international volunteer programs with an open mind, regardless of the destination as it will vary greatly from the volunteer's home countries.
"Volunteers should be prepared to work hard and show initiative, as Alyssa has certainly shown by taking the initial step to apply online and now in preparation for her volunteer program in Peru," said Green.
Cowell signed up for the trip in November and didn't have time to do fundraisers, so she saved her money and found a cheap flight out of Chicago.
"I budgeted it into my financial aid package by cutting out other miscellaneous expenses. IVHQ is great program that is more affordable than any of the other volunteer programs I looked into," Cowell said.
Required vaccinations to volunteer abroad through IVHQ include the typical childhood vaccines, Hepatitis A, Typhoid, and Influenza.
Travel insurance was also required.
Established in 2007, IVHQ has sent more than 17,000 volunteers abroad and work with hundreds of different projects through Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Cowell will not only be helping the underserved, but will experience a warmer climate than Michigan. The average daily temperature in Lima, Peru is 70-degrees Fahrenheit.
In the future, Cowell wants to practice medicine in the U.P. and travel.
She will do some traveling in Peru on her own after her volunteer week.
Cowell graduated from the University of Rochester in New York in 2010. She is the daughter of George and Cheryl Cowell of Menominee.