In this week’s blog, Julie Neisch tells us how she became HOOP’s new Volunteer Coordinator, and why it’s such an awesome job.
I came to Arequipa in November, one month into a 6-month trip around South America. I was immediately drawn to the beauty of the city, the historic white center, the surrounding volcanoes, and the vibe of the city; busy but with a laid-back atmosphere that you don’t find in cities like Cusco. One evening in a coffee shop I met a barista named Michelle who I chatted with for a few hours. Eventually, she told me about a non-profit organization called HOOP where she also worked as the Volunteer Coordinator. After telling me about HOOP’s mission, values, and the work they do in Flora Tristan, she mentioned ‘I’m leaving in one month and we are looking for a new Volunteer Coordinator!” I was intrigued and left the coffee shop with Michelle’s contact info and the website for HOOP. The more I read that evening, the more interested I became in the position. I met Michelle again the following day, applied and interviewed, and the next thing I knew I was living in Arequipa and working with HOOP. I still can’t believe how everything fell into place and seemingly into my lap!
I started as the new Volunteer Coordinator with HOOP in December. Immediately, I felt so welcome by everyone in the organization- staff, interns, and volunteers! It was a neat experience coming in at this time because I had the opportunity to see the impact of HOOP’s program on both the children and the volunteers as the year wrapped up.
I think the best part of my job is the ability to work with such a diverse and international group of volunteers. Each has a different background, ideas, experience, and expectations. While this keeps my job new and interesting, it can also be a challenge. One thing I value about HOOP is the ability of the organization to welcome new suggestions and to respond to the needs of the community. Because HOOP is a fairly small organization, I feel that we are able to constantly evolve and integrate new ideas. In this way, we can continue to grow and offer new and relevant programs to the community in Flora Tristan. I’m so excited to start this year with HOOP, and to meet the new volunteers arriving in February in person, rather than over Skype!
Words by Julie Neisch
Photo by Elise Fjordbakk
As Volunteer Coordinator, Julie is here to help you apply to HOOP and have a great volunteering experience. If you have any questions, feel free to drop her an e-mail.