Alianza Arkana Spotlight: Clemens Stierle, Volunteer English Teacher

In the following weeks we will be meeting some of the people who work with us, starting with this interview with Clemens Stierle. Clemens, a 20 year old German volunteer, has been working as an English teacher since August 2012 at the Alianza Arkana funded intercultural school, Soi Sani, in the Shipibo community of Puerto Firmeza.

Clemens came to Alianza Arkana through a volunteer program operated by the German Agency for Development (GIZ). He is one of three young volunteers on the same program who are based in Pucallpa.

AA: Please tell us something about the work you do Clemens?

Clemens: I teach English in the native community of Puerto Firmeza, working with primary to high school aged pupils. It’s interesting because the school aims to preserve the Shipibo culture while also providing a modern Western education.

AA: What do you enjoy about teaching?

Clemens: Sharing knowledge and working with children, especially because the children are from another culture. This sometimes makes it difficult, but it’s always interesting. I like it because I feel I can give them (the students) greater opportunities in their lives by doing what I’m doing.

AA: What can you tell us about working with Alianza Arkana?

Clemens: I really like it. Although there is a relaxed atmosphere within the organization, I feel like we’re really moving something. Everyone I know in Alianza Arkana is very open minded, and at the same time they are all so committed to their work and get a lot done.

AA: How did you come to be working for Alianza Arkana?

Clemens: After finishing school in Germany, I didn’t want to go directly to University. I wanted to see the world and help in some way. Then I found the Weltwarts (Towards the World) program, and within it the GIZ voluntary program caught my attention. My application was accepted and I was given different options. I knew I wanted to go to Latin America, and of all the jobs on offer this was the one I was most interested in, especially because of the opportunity to work with indigenous people in the rainforest. When I was 17 I spent a year in Canada with my father (who is Canadian). While I was there I got in touch with the English language and liked the idea of teaching.

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AA: What have been the most notable experiences you´ve had whilst working here?

Clemens: Getting to know another language, Shipibo, which is so different from any other language I’ve learned before. What has also really surprised me is that despite the fact that there’s very little support from the Peruvian Government, most of the teachers are committed to teaching to the best of their abilities and offering children the greatest possible opportunities. The school lacks a lot of materials and it is often difficult to travel to the community due to transport problems and climate issues like heavy rain. Nevertheless, most teachers work more hours than those that they are paid.

AA: What advice can you give to someone who is considering volunteering in Peru?

Clemens: I’d definitely recommend the experience of volunteering in the Amazon, for Alianza Arkana or any other good organization. It’s really worth it!

Deborah Rivett, Tuesday, 21 May 2013

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