Kaya wrote the following toward the end of her stay with the SKIP Program, Trujillo, Peru.
Although I was warned at the outset by veteran SKIP volunteers of how quickly my time here would come to its inevitable end, here I sit; utterly incredulous that, by this time next week, I will be running through a customary human-tunnel of volunteers until I am out the door for good. But considering the impact these last two months have made on my young adult life, something tells me that isn’t quite true. Whether it is through this specific organization or perhaps another with a similar philosophy and objectives, my work in trying to ensure that marginalized children have access to an education and are supported by economically and emotionally stable families will not end here or now. Working in the Psychology department here at SKIP (Supporting Kids in Peru) has allowed me the opportunity to explore and understand to the best of my abilities a reality unjustly faced by so many children and their families, a reality that is inherent to the endemic poverty–both economic and academic–that plagues cities like and far worse off than Trujillo, Peru.
While not entirely in tune with my initial goal to see the practical application of psychology from an authentic Peruvian perspective (which I have been led to believe does not actually exist), my experience has been invaluable in that it has forced me to critically reevaluate such preconceived notions and expectations. The table here in Trujillo, Peru seemed to be set for a smorgasbord of self-exploration and opportunity for growth, that is to say, worthy substitutes for my previous ideal objectives. My role as the sole Psychologist’s Assistant consisted of co-leading and observing various adolescent and parent therapy groups, generally made up of 3-4 clients. I worked with children ranging from ages 5-12 who were mandated to receive group therapy sessions due to behavioral management issues in the classroom, as well as with their parents, who lacked the assertive parenting techniques that could help prevent these interventions from happening in the first place. The focus of the adolescent groups was essentially social skills training–interactive play therapy that fostered interpersonal communication, behavior and emotion management techniques, and just an attempt to instill basic values they should have learned years ago en casa but unfortunately did not have due to the lack of support at home.
With so much against them, I found it of the upmost importance to begin expanding the horizons of these families to accommodate different visions of reality. Through the opportunity to co-lead each group and have input into the workshops, each was carefully designed to provide the participants the tools they needed to escape the vicious cycle of poverty through valuing their education and the hard work and determination necessary to build better lives. This support and mediation through solution-focused therapy sessions was my first real opportunity to not only see the practical application of psychology, but be a part of it as well. This experience was rife with ups and downs but ultimately granted me the invaluable opportunity to make a small, yet lasting, impact on their process of building a more stable and healthy familial situation and strengthening the drive to never give up on their dreams. I now return to complete my degree with a newfound confidence in my abilities to adapt and contribute meaningfully to the field I wish to go into and bring with me a new perspective on the reality of struggles unjustly faced by the most loving children I have ever known.