"Truly an unforgettable experience"
Raymond Tang, from USA, joined the programme for 2 weeks in July 2018
Peru was the first country I’ve been to outside of North America, and I took this trip alone. The Amazon, the project, and the people there were beautiful, kind, and taught me a lot of things. Just writing about it now overwhelms me with a nostalgic bliss; I can almost smell the crisp air as I walk through the forest, learning about all the different animals and plants.
In my first week, I was under the mentorship of a botanist from the project at Tambopata, and learned a great deal about medicinal plants, animals, conservation efforts, gold mining & deforestation, ecotourism, mythology (my personal favorite), the way of life in an Amazonian community, and much more.
In my second week, I visited two native communities. In both communities, I enjoyed my stay in comfort, great company, delicious food, and a seemingly untameable thirst for adventure. I had the honor of interviewing past and current leaders in the communities to find out what medicinal plants they prepared and/or used over the last year, their roles & duties in their communities, their use of ayahuasca, forest spirits & mythology, and the benefits that ecotourism has provided over the past years. This 2-week journey was truly an unforgettable experience, and it’s vastly different from the bustling Big Apple. Missing the jungle already.
"An experience that I hold very close to my heart"
Valentina Corsetti, from Italy, was an intern on the project for 1 month from May-June 2018
I really enjoyed my time in Tambopata, especially as I was lucky enough that Veerle was volunteering for the entire month as well; she and I grew very very close. The volunteering itself was most fascinating in terms of experiencing a new mentality and way of life that the communities have (also the food is amazing; all the doñas that cooked for us were amazing and so kind).
I really think it helped me become more confident and open-minded, as I met so many different people from all kinds of different backgrounds. Also, the volunteering was very different from what I was expecting: a lot of planning was left up to us and what we wanted to do, and there was a lot of back and forth between being in the forest and being in Puerto Maldonado, but I didn’t mind this, as it meant we spent the month in various locations with a lot of different people. I would definitely say that a basic understanding of Spanish is absolutely essential for this particular programme; I just think that direct communication makes the whole experience a lot more personal.
I have to say that the project is very well connected and has a very good reputation with the communities: the two that we went to, Boca Pariamanu and La Victoria, welcomed us very warmly and were very willing to talk to us. There is so much knowledge that they have to offer, and hearing it first hand was incredible. We spent a long time hiking with Don Alberto in Boca Pariamanu, and he would stop to point out plants and their uses constantly: my favourite was the vine that Don Alberto called maravilla, as it contains drinkable water that drips out when it is cut.
We also spent a week with the botanist Natalie, which was great as we learnt so much more about the ethno-botany of the region, and we also made some medicines ourselves from the plants on the farm. I met so many incredible, passionate people and I fell in love with the region. It truly was an experience that I hold very close to my heart.
"I can’t wait to visit again!"
Veerle Ammerlaan, from the Netherlands, was an intern on the project for 1 month in May 2018
During my time on the project, I learned a lot about the medicinal plant use of native communities in the Madre de Dios region. Together with the lovely Tina as my friend/fellow intern and Juan Carlos as our incredible coordinator, we travelled to the communities to help with the collection of data and improving ecotourism. During my last week of this internship, I spend some time with the wonderfully talented botanist and ethno-botanist Natalie, who has taught me so much and whom I can’t wait to visit again!
"My experience in Peru was a life changing experience"
Sara Kaiden, from USA, was an intern for 1 month on the project
My experience in Peru was a life changing experience which has changed my perspective towards life. This was the best organization I could have worked with. It matched my personality, and it was well organized. By doing this internship not only have I learned what I need to study more or what I should pursue in graduate school it made me notice what was happiness in life. I am very glad I got to participate in this internship. Thank you very much for all the help and organizing this trip for me. I am very blessed to be this lucky.