EQWIP HUB volunteers Valery Soucy and Sophia Wood Massicotte mingling with youth in Lima Norte

21 Apr Inside Sophia’s Volunteer Experience with EQWIP HUBs in Lima!

Introducing Sophia Wood Massicotte, one of the first EQWIP HUBs’ volunteers, now returned from Peru, where she spent three months putting her skills into action in support of youth development as a Global Leader.

Now back in Ottawa, ON, she took the time to share the story of her experience with EQWIP HUBs – an innovative new project powered by Canada World Youth and Youth Challenge International. Read it below!

Welcome home! Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Sophia Wood Massicotte and I successfully completed a BA in International Business at Bishop’s University in May 2015. Since then, I’ve been working on short-term contracts and enjoyed a life changing volunteering adventure with EQWIP HUBs in Peru. I plan on going back abroad for another internship [with another organization] in the fall. Let the adventures continue!

What inspired you to sign up as an EQWIP HUBs volunteer?

Originally, I wanted to volunteer with Canada World Youth. They have an excellent reputation and I had heard good things from various individuals who went on their volunteer programs. I decided in 2014 that I wanted to do the same after graduation.

I got in touch with the organization, learned more and was hooked. Then I found out that Canada World Youth and Youth Challenge International had launched a new project called EQWIP HUBs and was in the process of recruiting the first teams of volunteers. I applied and was successful – ta da!

EQWIP volunteers Natalia Westphal, Thomas Mckee and Sophia Wood Massicotte, meeting prospective youth participants at the HUB

Image: EQWIP volunteers Natalia Westphal, Thomas Mckee and Sophia Wood Massicotte, meeting prospective youth participants at the HUB

Do you have a learning moment you’d like to share about your experiences as a volunteer with EQWIP HUBs?

Being one of the first volunteers was an adventure. It had its pros and cons – everything was new and different, and we needed to adapt to changing circumstances. We didn’t know what to expect at the beginning and developing that structure for our work was a process because we were the first volunteers on a new project.

We learned to adapt our personal vision and expectations, and to celebrate our accomplishments. It could be a bit frustrating to feel like we weren’t progressing at times, but in reality, the experience was about learning, doing what was needed and working together.

Also, I had to learn to be patient. Since I’m not normally a patient person, I learned a lot!

Upon reflection, what is the biggest lesson you gained from your experience at an EQWIP HUB?

I improved my Spanish considerably and expanded my professional and personal networks. I was able to build a great life for myself in Lima; I really clicked with the place and the people. I feel like I was useful as one of the volunteer pioneers for the EQWIP HUB in Lima and feel blessed with what Peru has taught me and showed me in terms of its food, people, music and natural wonders! My travel bug hasn’t subsided since I got back and I’m looking forward to my next adventure!

EQWIP HUBs volunteers and local staff in Lima

EQWIP HUBs volunteers and local staff in Lima

What words of wisdom would you offer to someone leaving for a placement with EQWIP HUBs?

Have your expectations in check in terms of the volunteer position/role and the working conditions and habits of the host country. It’s also important to be open-minded, keep a positive attitude and not be afraid to try new things! Whether it’s voicing your opinion or trying new food, this is the time to experiment and grow. Also, be flexible and patient, and remember that culture shock hits some more than others and in different ways. Work may be slow going at times and this could be the cause of some frustration, which is normal. Remember, it’s all a learning process!


EQWIP HUBs is a Canada World Youth/Youth Challenge International project on the lookout for experienced, high-caliber young Canadians with a passion for youth development and the ambition to go global. Apply today!