What I discovered in Peru
I just returned from an absolutely magical week in Peru where I volunteered with the elderly in Villa El Salvador. Just to be clear, I absolutely love kids, but I think these abuelitos—grandparents—stole my heart! They are spunky, sweet, and totally hilarious. The best thing about volunteering with the elderly is that it takes very little to light up their world. A smile, a hug, taking pictures, playing the clown. Any little bit of attention or pampering makes their day, especially the pampering.
I was working in the kitchen when Kique, the Peru Country Director, came in and asked who could cut hair. Immediately, I shouted, “I can!” Two minutes later I had a comb in one hand, a pair of scissors in the other, and an elderly man sitting in front of me all ready for his trim. I called out to Kique, and bashfully explained that I’m not sure what made me speak up, because I had never actually cut anyone's hair before. He nodded his head, told me to watch out for the earlobes, and instructed me to "just go for it." So—deep breath—I pulled up a lock of long, salt and pepper hair, and snipped it off.
A little while later, I finished the haircut and admired my work. Wow, I can cut hair! The rest of the center residents thought so too and suddenly I had a line of Peruvian abuelos telling me in Spanish how they wanted their hair cut.
The moral of the story is one that seems to repeat itself on each one of my CCS programs. I felt it in Peru, I felt it in Tanzania, and I know that wherever I volunteer next, I'll feel it there, too. When you’re on a CCS program, whatever comes your way, just go for it! Dive in with both feet and don’t look back! The best and most magical moments where you can change the lives of others and your own tend to happen outside of your comfort zone.