Time Capsule Letter – October 2016
This is Bryce, your Mentor for Service in the Sacred Valley Peru 2016! I am writing to you today to reflect on our wonderful time together this summer. Your presence in our humble home in Cusco brought plenty of laughs, tears, stimulating conversation, and constant motivation within our group of peers! I cannot tell you how much your intellectual curiously, empathy, and positivity impressed myself, Matteo, Vinny, and Julia. Watching your individual stories unfold throughout our three weeks together was inspiring and heartwarming, and I encourage you to continue to take these lessons into your daily lives as you plunge into your exciting futures!
Each of you made an incredible difference on one another, the community of Mayrasco, your mentors, and YOURSELVES this summer. In your service efforts over our three weeks together, you made incredible progress on our fish farms. Thank you for helping us to put the finishing touches on our beautiful ponds. What began as holes in the earth are now fully formed fish ponds! It was amazing to be able to watch the first streams of water flowing into the ponds, and the last stone (only the “más grande”s) placed on the walls. And, of course, I will never forget the beautiful reunion of us and the community of Mayrasco on that last day of service. We have made an impact on their community that will last a lifetime- the children and families of Mayrasco will soon have nutritious trout added to their diet, and they have you to thank. You should be so proud of yourselves!
It is an incredible feat to have accomplished all that you have in our GLA program. You were thrown into uncomfortable, strange, and completely new situations almost every day while you were in Peru. As your mentors, we watched in awe as you befriended Peruvian youth despite the language barrier, navigated foreign streets by interacting with locals, and enthusiastically trekked through valleys and high elevations where only the condors dared to go! With all this and more, you still had the energy to engage in card games, storytelling, tea-time, and deep conversations at night.
I know that you all will carry your enthusiasm, courageousness, drive, and compassion into the rest of your lives. Now that you have overcome the challenges we presented to you here in Peru (with ease), the world is your oyster! We cannot wait to watch each of you thrive in your individual passions and curiosities. Please keep in touch and remember that our roles as your mentors will last a lifetime. And never forget the powerful impact each of your efforts had on lives you touched in Peru. You each have great potential, we look forward to following the stories you continue to create!
Go Team Fish!
Bryce, Julia, Vinny, and Matt
Summer Blog Posts
Hello family and friends!
We’ve all made it safe and sound to Cusco, Perú! No time to waste, we jumped right into the service work (building fish ponds to improve the nutrition for the families of a nearby village at 4,000 meters/13,00 feet) the morning after arrival. Work includes: digging with shovels, pick axes, and rock bars; build rock walls; and mixing cement. Lots of work and lots to do!
Yesterday we had the opportunity to listen to a presentation given by a nurse from Cusco explaining the factors affecting malnutrition in children living in rural communities. She explained the reason why several children appear short in stature. It is because they lack sufficient protein in their diets which causes slow brain and muscle development. At first, we had no idea why all the Peruvians I saw on the street were shorter than the average height. We made assumptions that it was due to the altitude or low oxygen. In reality, the issue is more complex than it seems. Children often cannot obtain animal protein due to the price, accessibility, and lack of parental education. We became aware of the issue and gained a deeper understanding of why we are building fish farms.
Joshua Gopaul and Jake Messina
This morning, we continued to make progress on the fish farm, and have neared the completion of one of the three fish pools. Overall, today was a very good day as Antonio, a brick laying expert was fairly pleased with our work.
Our day continued with a visit to a traditional weaving co-op. At the co-op, we were entreated to a demonstration of the process of dying and spinning alpaca wool, as well as a comparison in texture between sheep wool and alpaca wool. Though the demonstration was interesting, the fun was in getting to buy large amounts of alpaca wool clothes, bags, and dolls.
After shopping, we were allowed to share in a party celebrating the 40th anniversary of the co-op where we all had an opportunity to dance with the local Peruvian women who worked at the co-op and listen to music by a group of locals.
We finished out the day with a TED talk about the importance of a story, as well as follow-up discussions in our mentor groups.
Chris Sanchez and Matt Heller
August 8th, 2016
Today began at 6:00 am as usual and after breakfast we were off to the community of Mayrasco ft service! Before work, we did some stretching and yoga right on the side of the mountain- great way to start off the day! Our usual day of service consists of getting our materials, then making a daisy chain to put our materials in the holes that will soon be fish ponds. We all worked together to gather rock to build the wall and cement them together to line the pond. We are almost done with two of our three fish ponds!
After lunch we went to a boys foster home. The boys that we met lived here because of poor situations at home. We played on the monkey bars, frisbee, soccer, tic tac toe, and drew pictures with the boys. We split up into groups and got tours of the facility. Before we left, we took a group picture. The boys gave us all hugs and we were sad to say good bye to our new friends!
After dinner, our director, Matt, gave us a speech on his bicycle trip. He is riding down to Patagonia and started from Utah! We ended with story time and listened to music as a group. Now time for bed, as we must be up again at 6 am!
August 9, 2016
The morning started with our 6 AM wake up with our alarm being opera and Peruvian flute. A perfect way to start our day. After pancakes we ventured up the mountain to continue our progress on the walls of the fish ponds. We worked extra hard in rain, basically finishing the first pond!
We made it to the home base just in the time for lunch. Soon after, we began our scavenger hunt. The scavenger hunt involved statutes, enormous avocadoes, blizzard snacks, and look alike mannequins. Winners of this competitive hunt were awarded alpaca keychains and Cua Cuas. We ended the night with mentor groups and a game of basketball. The day came to a close with story time and sleepy GLAers heading up to bed (excited to experience something new tomorrow)!
Liv & Liz?✌
August 10th, 2016
This morning we woke up bright and early and felt the cold air tickle our toes as we trudged out of our warm beds! For breakfast we had eggs and of course lots of bread and strawberry jam! With filled water bottles, sunscreen, snacks and lots of layers packed in our bag packs we hopped on the bus and enjoyed the gorgeous ride through rolling hills of beauty to our service site. As we do each morning, we began with a daisy chain of cement materials down the steep cliff! This morning we were primarily working on the 1st fish pond since we are near finished with the other two ponds! For the rest of service, some of us lifted heavy rocks to the pond, some sifted cement materials, some cemented the pond’s walls, and some daisy chained water buckets. It got pretty chilly at the end of service but it was all worth it!
After lunch and some well deserved showers, we got back on the bus and headed to the shaman! We showed up at the shaman’s house that had a picturesque view of bold mountains floating in the distance. He and his son were sitting in the front with traditional ponchos filled with vibrant colors. The son who looked about 12-13 years old passed out 3 leaves to each of us and told us to think of our questions in our heads. The shaman then gathered the green coca leaves and added them to a colorful offering to pacha mama or Mother Earth. He added several different spiritual objects such as alpaca fat, candies, rice etc. and then dumped the offering in the fire to burn. He then blew on a patutu (giant sea shell instrument) to honor the mountains! We then individually went up to him and asked him about our futures! Apparently some of us will die in car accidents and some will have lots of children!! It was such a cultural experience filled with spirituality and lots of laughter! On the bus back we had a little bus malfunction but made it back for dinner. Tonight we got wifi which was super fun and there was also a churro cart outside the hotel so we got lots of sugar!! After a long day of new experiences and hard work, we can’t wait to go to sleep!!
Adios for now,
We’ve been busy in Cusco… service work, dancing, rafting, and plenty more!
Now, we’re off on our trek around the gorgeous Mt. Veronica and finish with a visit to Machu Picchu. We’ll be back in a few days!
I hope that this e-mail finds all of you very well.
Today marks the final day of service in Mayrasco, Perú. As all fourteen members of the third service group walked down the hill with Julia, Bryce, and Flaminia, Richard and I finished filling the “middle” and “bottom” holes with water as we gave final instructions to Antonio and other community members.
I walked down the hill to see all the students and adults of the third session watching a futbol match between the community members of Mayrasco and another local community.
After the game, the community gathered around to speak with us and share their appreciation. There were tears as both GLA and community members shared gratitude. I expressed our gratitude, on behalf of all 63 GLA participants, for the incredible experience over the last three months. Mayrasco invited us into their home and, in my mind, gave each of us a much greater gift than we could possibly share with them.
I wish that you all could have physically been there to enjoy the moment. Though this wasn’t possible, I believe we all had our hearts and thoughts there. I saw the mounds of dirt shoveled by the first session. I saw the piles of rocks broken and moved by the second session. I saw the walls built by the third session. More importantly, I saw the lessons learned, the appreciation gained, and the energy and emotions of many, many people.
In the meantime, know that your efforts were greatly appreciated. Gracias amigos!