Lewis Walmsley is a current student on the BA (Hons) English Language programme. As part of a project for his Year 2 module English Language Workshop, he travelled to Peru, thanks to UCLan’s Travel Bursary Scheme.
Lewis said: “Last summer I said goodbye to rainy Preston for a two week adventure into the unknown. I packed my bag and left on a gruelling 30-hour journey to Cuzco, Peru. I had no idea as to what lay ahead other than that I would be working within a local school, with under privileged children. I was nervous and excited at the same time as I knew this was a once in a lifetime opportunity."
The trip was organised through a charity called Reach Out Volunteers who work in several countries around the world aiming to improve the living conditions of those living in poverty through voluntary help. A member of the charity came into UCLan and gave a presentation on the work they carry out. Instantly I was interested as I knew this was an opportunity which would benefit me in a variety of different ways.
Firstly, as I am an English Language student, a key aspect of my course is the ELSIE (English Language Skills Initiative for Employability) project which focuses on enhancing employability through work based experience. By visiting Peru and working in a school I recognised this as something which would appeal to employers and help to differentiate me from other candidates when applying for jobs in the future. Secondly, as I am looking into a potential career in teaching this was an ideal opportunity to gain valuable experience into what a career in teaching demands.
I successfully gained sponsorship from a local plumbing and heating company; however, my major sponsor came from the SoLLIS Travel Bursary at UCLan. I applied for the travel bursary, a scheme which aims to provide students with funding allowing them to create projects which will benefit them on their course and also when it comes to future employment. This helped to fund my flights and contributed a large amount towards my accommodation fees. Without receiving this sponsorship I doubt whether I would have ever been able to financially support my experience in Peru.
Whilst working in the school I gained an insight into the lives of those less fortunate. I spent over a week working with the children teaching basic English classes, whilst also building a jungle gym for them to play on. When our time came to an end it was truly amazing to witness the difference we had made to their lives in just over a week, a memory which I will never forget.
Overall my experience in Peru was an unforgettable one, and one which has developed me as a person whilst also enhancing my employability appeal. An opportunity similar to mine is something I would recommend to anyone considering such an experience, and is a great example of how UCLan’s Travel Bursary Scheme really does make a difference to students.