24 Jul Volunteer Abroad Profile: Jesuit Volunteer Corps
What if you could do meaningful work abroad and not have to worry about money? In our series of Live Abroad Profiles, we share stories and examples of great opportunities and the people who are pursuing them. Today’s profile features our friend (and former student leader from our University Student Life days): Theresa who is serving in Peru with Jesuit Volunteer Corps International. We’ll let her tell you about that…
My name is Theresa Cutter. I joined JVC after graduating from the University of Portland in 2012. I began my two year commitment in November of that year and have since added on another year to my service time, ending in December of 2015.
I live in Andahuaylillas, Peru, a small, Andean town located about an hour southeast of Cusco. It is a quiet town, but grows alive on important saints’ feast days. The culture and language of this region of Peru is strongly influenced by the presence of the indigenous language, Quechua.
Volunteers typically serve in the primary or secondary school or in the local parishes of Andahuaylillas and neighboring towns at the libraries, computer rooms, and daily hot lunch programs for students.
For the past two and half years, I have been teaching a number of different subjects to middle/high school-age students.
JVC emphasizes the importance of presence and accompaniment rather than enforcing changes (which could end up hurting more than helping); therefore most of our weekly activities focus on building relationships with the local community. Each Monday I visit a more isolated community where I play soccer and prepare kids and teens for their 1st Communion and Confirmation. Thursday evenings are spent celebrating Mass in our house or Sister Rosario’s house with the local Jesuit, Father Calilo. Weekends are filled with pastoral activities. One of our favorite ways to exchange culture is around the table. Our most recent success was over 4th of July where we invited friends over to try weird “gringo” food, in this case chili, and played board games.
About Jesuit Volunteer Corps (International)
JVC is a Catholic affiliated organization that collaborates with the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) and works with local organizations to provide direct service to the poor and marginalized. Its mission is based on four core values:
JVC’s hope is that “the experience opens the JV [Jesuit Volunteer] to be conscious of the poor, attuned to the causes of social injustice, and dedicated to service informed by faith.”
Requirements and Benefits
Who Can Volunteer: Single men and women ranging from 21-35 years old who have an undergraduate degree or equivalent work experience and are willing to fully commit to a year (for the domestic program) or two years (for the international program) living out JVC’s four values. There are no requirements that volunteers identify as Catholic, however, attending Mass once a week is requested and is often an important time to deepen relationships with community members, co-workers, and friends as many of the areas where international JVs live are predominantly Catholic.
Types of Assignments: JVC International serves in 6 different countries around the world: Belize, Nicaragua, Peru, Chile, Tanzania, and Micronesia. 5 of the 6 countries have more than one JV community. JV work placements fall within three categories: teaching, social work, and pastoral work.
Living Conditions/Arrangements: Volunteers live in intentional communities of 2-7 members. Some houses are shared volunteer houses which include volunteers from other countries and other programs. JVs share a household budget and commit to weekly community and spirituality nights as well as community dinners.
Benefits: JVs fundraise prior to departure. These funds ultimately cover: travel expense to/from country (at the beginning and end of service commitment), healthcare, dental, vision (new or serious problems), room and board, retreat expenses and a small personal stipend to be used at each JV’s own discretion.
Volunteers in teaching positions vacation on school breaks. Those in social work and pastoral positions speak with their supervisor to request time off for vacations.
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