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It didn’t take long to fall into the routine of working at WindAid. It was a little preview of working a 9-5 job, albeit it was a bit more relaxed. Around 9, Senior Abel would arrive at the volunteer house in the beast (the Windaid Car). We would all pile into it, packing it as tightly as we could. Our record I think was 11 people. Then everyone else would grab taxis to go to the workshop. It was about a half an hour drive to the complex which was on the other side of Trujillo from our house. Once there a nice man named Johnny would open the gate for us and we’d pass by a couple other garages where other businesses operated to our own little section of the complex.

At the shop we would work until noon and then walk to lunch. Around noon you could here countless calls of “Comida?'” around the workshop. We would head over to the same restaurant every day: El Pato. Apparently this was because this was by far the best restaurant in the area. The only exception was Wednesdays when they were closed so we would go somewhere else for lunch. The restaurant was menu-styled like most Peruvian restaurants. This meant that we got to choose our meal from a list of about 4 starters and about 4 main dishes. It also came with complementary juice. Everything was switched up daily. I’m sure that there were other options at the restaurant but this is what was provided by WindAid because of cost as well as simplicity in ordering. We simply tallied up totals of who wanted what. Then we would walk back and sluggishly get back to work. The reason this work was much more relaxed than an ordinary 9-5 was the approximately two hour lunch breaks on top of not really starting working until at least 9:30.

In the workshop itself, we were mostly instructed what to do by Michelle, an intern who was our volunteer coordinator and shop supervisor. She would outline what tasks would be worked on every day and designate people to work with the supervisor in charge of the specific tasks. Most task were led by WindAid staff members, who were mostly Peruvian, while Michelle acted as an intermediary wherever language was a barrier. Some example tasks for a day include coiling copper coil, welding the structure/learning to weld, or working on whatever stage of the mold of the blades or stater were on. It really gave a taste of mechanical engineering. Working in a shop to build a final project. Once we had built the entire turbine we packed it up and prepared to head to our installation site which is another post in itself.

This is how every day of work during the first month went. Then the second month this was repeated with a new group of volunteers. Martin and I spent the second month working on a research and design project in order to benefit WindAid in the future. Our project was to improve upon a previous design of a remote monitor for the wind turbines. This was designed to be installed at the turbines to monitor information such as the battery’s life and wind turbine output and then send this data to a centralized server. This allowed us to have more information about the operation of the turbines without traveling out to the installation site or trust whoever owned the turbine to give and accurate diagnosis of problems. This was more of electrical engineering work than the first month. The plan for the month was to continue going to the shop everyday with the new volunteers and lock ourselves in the electronics room to work.

Unfortunately things did not go very smoothly the second month. The internet was down in the shop for basically the entirety of the month. This makes it incredibly difficult to work on a system that connects to the internet and to simply do the research portion of the project while attempting to build it. Because of this, work was slow and frustrating. We were able to get work done, but it was difficult. We had internet in the house on most days and were able to a bit of research before heading to the shop the next day to experiment using the tools and equipment there. We tried bring what we needed to the house but there was always something at the shop that we ended up needing. We also worked from Starbucks a couple days when the internet was also down in the house. Then in the final week of our trip Jess, a co-founder of WindAid arrived and solved anything. She was a doer that made things happen. Upon hearing about our internet problems in the shop she arranged to have an internet hotspot in the shop. The final week we were there we were basically able to finish our project besides a few bugs and besides installing it on an actual turbine. So our second month was quite a bit more disorganized than the first. It involved working here and there as the situation permitted.

One thing was constant the whole time though: we got to experience leaving work at work after 5 pm. We would get off work and come home to relax, watch movies, and just hang out with the other volunteers. WindAid was also very generous and gave us half-days on Fridays, as well as let us take Fridays off to travel. They encouraged seeing the most that we could of Peru. Overall it was quite the experience in working as an engineer as well as having a distinct work and home life. It gave perspectives on life back in the states as well as all the obvious perspectives about life in Peru.