By Carolina Fowler, Marketing and Communications intern
My summer as a Marketing and Communications intern for Awamaki bookmarks a shift, a paradigm of sorts, in my life. There is something that is so beautiful about being an outsider that is welcomed within a new place by others that you could say “belong” there. Such an experience can be a catalyst for change, it was for me anyway.
My job, for the 10 weeks that I resided in Ollantaytambo, was to create a directory of the 168 women that Awamaki works to empower. Much of what this project entailed, was what I made it to be. At first, this was incredibly daunting, as I had just finished my first year of college with no real marketing or communications experience, beyond my own twitter account. Influences such as weak WiFi, power outages, and a lack of fluency in a language which inhibited communication made the work hard at times, and at others nearly impossible. So, I teamed up with the incredible Monitoring and Evaluations team to travel to, and experience all eight of the cooperatives Awamaki works with. The M&E team were surveying all of the women for data as I was taking photographs for the directory. We had the unique opportunity to meet 160 of all 168 women.
One of the most impactful lessons that I will forever carry with me came from those 160 women. Coming to Peru is an incredible experience, visiting the indigenous communities is invaluable, but there is something about living around these women, about experiencing life from their point of view, that brings you to your knees in awe. These women taught me what it means to stand on my own two feet as a woman with pride.
I think the other important lesson I learned pertains to living in another country for over two months. When your parents are oceans and continents away, there is a certain level of responsibility you must take for yourself. I learned so much about life in such a comparatively short span of living. I grew up a lot while living in Peru, and I did it while surrounded by people who very quickly became like family.
I came to Awamaki in search of an experience that might guide me on whether or not non-profit work was for me. I got that, but so much more. I gained lifelong friends, hilarious stories, a newfound reverence for women and perhaps most importantly, I lost my fear of growing up. Working for a nonprofit was incredible and I am so thankful for the work experience that Awamaki provided me with. But at the end of the day, I am more thankful for the life experience Awamaki gave me—that was what changed my life in the most lasting way.