One of the best ways to practice and learn a foreign language and enhance the experience of living in another country and gain first-hand exposure to its culture and issues is through volunteer work. PUCP has an office, the Academic Office for Social Responsibility, that offers the opportunity to participate in volunteer work. There are also numerous organizations in Lima that accept foreign students as volunteers.
Dirección Académica de Responsabilidad Social (DARS)
The PUCP has an office of Social Responsibility (DARS), which oversees a wide range of projects, on and off campus. They define projects and work closely with PUCP faculty in their creation and implementation, for instance, faculty from architecture, law, psychology, engineering, health sciences, communications, and performing arts.
On campus projects include creating groups to address particular issues, like gay rights or gender-based violence. The student groups develop and rehearse performances that take place on campus.
A history blog for school teachers to develop materials to be used in the classroom to teach history.
Off campus they partner with organizations that do volunteer work. Many of these organizations do fairs on campus to recruit volunteers and inform people about their work.
Project ARISARTE: another project involves faculty and students in the visual arts, who partner with craftsmen to improve their product. They study the materials, designs, etc. and work closely with the artists. They developed one such project with artisans in Tucumán.
They also have worked closely with psychologists who form brigades to help victims of trauma (earthquakes, etc.).
One of their strategies is to develop working groups for their own projects. One of them, for instance, is inspired by Arguedas, whose work is inspired on his profound knowledge of Peruvian indigenous cultures, focusing on language and narrative. This project can produce teaching materials, virtual as well as print, including comic books, stories, testimony, etc., and leading to a book published by the students.
Projects can be connected to arts or other academic courses, or lead to the development of thesis and dissertations.
Off campus, in Lima
Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos (The National Coordinator for Human Rights)
Founded in 1985 in response to the murder of nine journalists in the Ayacucho area, the CNDH has significantly expanded its range of operations and strategies. It is the reference point for human rights organizations in Latin America.
Main areas of activity include:
- Reparations for human rights abuses between 1980 and 2000.
- Legal defense, especially in cases involving indigenous populations.
- Support for Indigenous Peoples. Deals with issues that affect lives, health and work conditions of indigenous populations, such as abuses perpetrated by mining companies, etc. This is the same group that led the successful campaign against former president Fujimori, “Nunca más Fujimori”.
- Post traumatic stress (war, calamities, etc.).
- Citizen mobilization: they work with different groups to organize the Gay Pride Parade every year.
- Work in prisons.
- Media campaigns.
Students can work with any of these groups. The office is open Monday through Friday all day so the schedule is flexible. The environment is safe and students work with a young, dynamic staff. Students can do graphic design, Web design, murals, etc.
Located outside Lima but accessible by public transportation, this is a major pre-Inca and Inca ceremonial site (Patrimony of Humanity). Only a relatively small portion has been excavated and restored. They work to involve the adjacent community creating awareness of their cultural and historical patrimony, and develop workshops for children to teach them about the site, history, drawing, painting, etc. Students can be involved in various activities from excavation to leading tours to developing teaching materials and teaching children, etc.
Safe site, safe commute, open six days a week, and accessible through public transportation. Students can travel to the site with other workers on site (young anthropology and archaeology students, guides, etc.).
A community project based on dance started by a dancer, Vania Macias, to work with children and youth in vulnerable neighborhoods. They have two sites, one in Chorrillos (Lima) and the other in Pachacutec. The latter is more interesting in terms of volunteer work but their main center and studio is a safer bet for students who don’t know their way around Lima.
Cajamarquilla, Women weavers
A project developed by Marta Castañeda, who directs several such projects, working with women (usually displaced by the civil war in the 80s, who have moved from the inland region to the Lima area) to develop workshops where they weave. Teaches them to organize themselves, to become financially independent, and learn a range of skills based on their work.
Cajamarquilla is outside Lima and transportation to this site is a bit of a problem because of the distance, but a student interested in textiles and community work can ride with the director once or twice a week.
A project started by two young men to work in a very poor neighborhood of Lima, Alto Peru. They started by teaching the children how to surf and have in the past couple of years diversified their work, including an annual street fair, workshops in various areas (dance, gym, painting, music, etc.) for the children, community based projects (painting houses, cleaning streets), and so on. Not a good neighborhood for going in and out of alone, certainly not at night, but students can be involved if they want by staying close to the group leaders.
There are several short videos about the project on YouTube.