My time here in Cusco is nearing its end date and my experience with the IVHQ program has had its ups and downs.
For the most part, everything went smoothly and I obviously knew everything wouldn't go as planned.
The company that helped me throughout my stay was called Maximo Nivel. They help volunteers from all over the world get placed into programs in the city, and they also teach English to Peruvians, as well as Spanish to English speakers.
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1. The company in Peru (Maximo Nivel) was very helpful with all of my questions. (which were a lot of questions, to be clear). I had questions ranging from the best places to eat, where to get my hair done, and questions/comments about my program. All of the staff were extremely helpful regarding everything I needed help with.
2. There were many free activities to be taken advantage of each and every single day of the month. The company offered free salsa lessons, tours, cooking classes, and more. There was ALWAYS something to do and not a day was wasted.
3. In case anything dangerous or bad happens, someone is always on call. There is always a doctor on call as well which helps tremendously. Someone got pretty sick in my house and the doctor was able to come to our house, instead of her venturing off to him. He was able to give her medication and diagnose her in the house as well.
1. The company based in Cusco was about 1 hour late picking me up. I wasn't too bothered by this, but I would've appreciated a phone call or an email letting me know that my ride was going to be late. During my wait I had men coming up to me nonstop, staring and asking me questions. Quite uncomfortable when I had a ton of luggage surrounding me.
2. The first day was a bit of a cluster****. I'm not sure if it was the altitude, but nothing seemed to be planned accordingly. If my Spanish skills were intermediate, that would have helped a ton, so maybe this one isn't so much of a com. I just felt like I was picked up and dropped off immediately to figure things out. My orientation was only a few hours after my drop off, which really confused me because I feel like it's a bit smart (and safe) to get sleep in before traveling solo in Cusco.
3. The organization's skills of the company were a bit off. I was told there was an option to pick between 2 different orientations, so I only chose 1, then I got a call from someone else at the office that I was supposed to go to both. Then there was another day when I was told to pick up documentation at the office, so I went up there… No documentation to be picked up. A third event happened that I can not remember, all I know is that 3 different things happened.
4. IVHQ hosts more of a “vacation” volunteering program. This is solely my opinion and my friends in the program agreed as well. I believe there are programs out there where your help is needed much more, and cost less as well.
So would I recommend someone else going through IVHQ- Cusco, Peru? Yes and no. I believe the organization skills could be improved, but overall the staff is amazing and extremely helpful.
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Have you ever volunteered through IVHQ? What was your experience like? Which country did you visit?