The Global Teens program places young people on the path to global citizenship by engaging them in an international exchange experiences, including cultural and educational travel, meaningful community service, and teen-to-teen interactions. The year-long program features a curriculum of pre-departure training and service and an international travel experience, as well as post-trip service and reflection. One of the program’s key features is that participants conduct service projects both here in New York as well as around the world.
Recently Katherine Guachichullca sat down with the Greenpoint YMCA’s Director of Fund Development & Communication, Rene Bouchard, to talk about her experience visiting Peru:
RB: How long were you in Peru?
KG: Two weeks.
RB: Where did you stay?
KG: We stayed at 2 different YMCA’s in Peru, and then in a hotel where we shared rooms in groups of 2 and 3.
RB: How did you spend your time?
KG: At first, we went sightseeing, visiting churches, and main squares. After the first 2 days, we began doing our community service projects. That’s when we felt we had truly arrived. We visited an orphanage where we played, sang and danced with the children there who were between 2 and 13 years old. It really hit everyone hard, seeing those kids who had no families to take care of them. Some of the kids called us mommy and daddy.
Then we built a wall to protect a small village from falling rocks and debris from the mountains. We mixed cement, passed bricks, and hauled big bags and debris. This project took the most teamwork and effort.
We also planted trees and painted rocks along mountain trails so that people could see their way at night.
RB: What was your favorite part of the trip?
KG: The orphanage. There was a little girl there who would always go right to me and want to play.
RB: What was the biggest benefit of your trip to the community?
KG: When we built the wall, it made the people much safer and it will help there community progress and move forward.
RB: What was the biggest benefit of your trip to you?
KG: It showed me that I shouldn’t take things for granted and that I should take advantage of what I have. t helped me learn to make the most of things and not complain about the little stuff.
RB: What advice would you give to a teen considering a trip like this?
KG: Definitely do it because you learn a lot about yourself and others. You learn to work together with people from different backgrounds. It prepares you for the real world where you have to be able to get along with all types of people. And you’ll have a lot of fun! It was the best experience of my life. It was so much fun working with everyone.
Katherine was honored at the 2009 General Assembly as the Greenpoint YMCA’s Youth Volunteer of the Year for 2008. Katherine has served as President of Leaders Club and has been actively involved in the Greenpoint YMCA’s Youth & Government Program.
For more information on the Greenpoint YMCA visit their website.