“I love my family host, they were the greatest of the greatest”
Life is full of challenges but one of the most rewarding parts of it are the experiences and knowledge you gain from them that make you a stronger person. My good friend Lorena joined the Peace Corp in 2013 and her journey throughout her 2 year commitment has been full of tests that sometimes made her wonder if she was truly making a difference in her community. But one thing is for sure, these were the two best years of her life and she wouldn’t hesitate to do it all over again.
Lorena moved to Miami, FL at the age of 12 and she earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Florida International University and a masters degree from NOVA southeastern University. Her passion is to travel and learn about new cultures all over the world. She backpacked all over Europe twice and learned to speak German as well. She joined the peace corps in 2013 and worked in the community economic development section in Peru.
As a peace corp. volunteer Lorena helped artisan groups, agriculture associations, and other small businesses owners improve their income through better practices. She worked closely with local, regional, and national leaders to ensure that her work in Peru is sustainable. Part of working in the peace corp. included living with a host family and adapting to the new life style of her new community. Lorena lived with her host family where approximately 15 family members share 1 bathroom and the closest city was about an hour away. While pursuing her goals as a peace corp. volunteer she was faced with daily challenges that sometimes made her think if she was really making a difference. There was no plumbing or gas so most homes had stoves that looked like an internal bon fire which can cause unwanted lung and health issues. They would wash clothes in the canals and most floors, indoors and outdoors, were made of dirt. While Lorena chose this journey in the economic development section to help students, artisans, and her local businesses have a voice, she also collaborated with other students in her communities. We take things for granted such as paying bills online and having the trash picked up on a regular basis but these are just a few things that don’t exist in rural towns where Lorena stayed. It was eye opening and a struggle to see that while 1st world countries are building skyscrapers, the 3rd world countries are suffering from malnutrition and diseases. It was hard to see if making a positive change would even be noticed or embraced with such large social gaps.
But it was love that helped her get thru these tough times. The love of her host family and the love she has for making a difference for their future generation. She cared so much for her host family as they were indeed her only family while she was in Peru and just like a family would do – they looked after her and she, in turn, looked after them as well. This bond only strengthened her desire to work with other local peace corp volunteers to bring new cooking methods to peoples households, create a local banking system, and help her family live a healthier lifestyle. In the end, Lorena touched the lives of many business students, collaborated with local and regional municipalities, and made friendships that will last a lifetime.
These peace corp. volunteers help save their communities with their passion, love and heart. It just takes one person to make a difference so that others can get motivated and get engaged which is what I think Lorena has achieved. Coming back home to the United States has inspired so many of her closest friends, neighbors, and acquaintances to get out there and change the world.
Lorena has faced many challenges but she came out of this journey a new person with amazing experiences that she will never forget. Living two years in a rural community with little to no connection to the outside world is very hard but pushing thru these challenges makes you accomplish goals you would have never thought of. I invite you to go out and start volunteering. It doesn’t have to be in the Peace corp but helping others will help you establish new strong relationships and help make your community a better place!Tweet & Share