Time Capsule Letter – October 2016
Dear GLA alumni, parents, staff and any and all additional blog readers,
As this first week winds down to a close and our second week begins, I find myself torn between several different emotions. First and foremost, I feel tremendously honored to have had the privilege to get to know these amazing kids and I am just as excited to get to know my second group. I am reluctant to see them go.
Among this first group there were students with a myriad of talents, skills and life experiences, including accomplished artists, athletes and eve a couple of impressive ping-pong players. Despite the hard work and high altitude, I have been incredibly impressed with these students tenacity and dedication to the task at hand during service hours, but even more encouraging than that has been their sincerity and selflessness. Many members of the group have expressed their gratitude for the interpersonal relationships they have been able to cultivate with our community partners as well as with each other over the course of their brief two weeks here, relationships they have painstakingly created and maintained through kindness, mutual respects, compassion, and empathy.
Yes, I’m very proud of my young GLA students who exemplify these and many more such admirable qualities. It’s been a pleasure and a privilege to be able to work with them, and I hope that they take the lessons learned and insight gained from their experience here at GLA with them into their budding adult lives. I just know they are going to do some great things.
Summer Blog Posts
June 11, 2016
Editor’s note: All students have arrived safely! Due to flight delays and re-routes, some arrived and were met in Peru on June 12 and a photo will be posted as soon as possible. The photo and blog entry below are from June 11.
We are kicking off Service in the Sacred Valley with 20 of our students! They are settled in and rested after their long and tiring journey. We are looking forward to meeting the rest of our group tomorrow and touring the city of Cusco!
June 12, 2016
Finally we have arrived! We enjoyed breakfast with the whole team before heading out for a tour of Cusco. The tour included many breathtaking views! We began by viewing ancient Incan temples, from there we began our journey around the top of the valley. We visited natural slides made out of rock, as well as the fountain of youth!
From there we ate a fantastic lunch at a local restaurant. This included many foreign foods, such as grilled alpaca. We then descended back to Cusco and visited museums as well as a stunning cathedral!
Tomorrow we start volunteering in the village of Chocco.
June 13, 2016
Today we began service in the village of Chocco. After waking up at 6:00 and eating breakfast, we broke off into four groups and went to the village to begin building foundations for the guinea pig houses. The guinea pigs, or cuys, are a local delicacy and provide income for the families in the villages surrounding Cusco. After working for about four hours on the foundation, we took a break to play soccer with the local children of Chocco during their recess. After heading back to the bus with extremely sore limbs, lunch was anxiously awaited. After Victor cooked up another stellar lunch, we began free time with happy stomachs. Once the evening rolled around we had an interesting speech from a politician in Cusco. He spoke to us about the social and economic hardships within Cusco. We then rolled right into a TED Talk followed by breaking out into mentor groups. Within the small groups, we converse and catch up about the day. We discussed the speaker’s presentation and the TED Talk. Following mentor groups, we did some clean up jobs and then headed to bed, waiting for the next day of service. As we sit here writing this blog, we are reflecting about our first day of service, where we learned about the poverty line of Cusco, and experienced the generosity and welcoming nature of the citizens of Peru.
-Ilana and Willem
June 14, 2016
Today was full of hard work and adventures for GLA students. They started bright and early at 8:00 am, working at their service sites, which included shoveling, pick axing, and wheel barreling loads of dirt to build cuy (guinea pigs) homes. As you can see, the children of Chocco felt comfortable “helping” them at their sites. In the afternoon, the students had a musical treat! A talented, Peruvian musician taught them the history of various Peruvian instruments and allowed them to try them out for themselves. Lastly, GLA students got to wind down, bond over games, and write journal entries at the home base.
– Lily Rogers and Jamie Zipper
June 15, 2016
¡Hola familia y amigos!
Here in Peru, we are having a blast. After a hardy breakfast of omelettes and bread, we started off the cool morning in jackets and many layers at our service sites. Today for our service, we continued building guinea pig, or cuy, houses. We filled in our foundation with large boulders and homemade, gooey mud. After working for half of the day, we took a break to play soccer and duck-duck-goose with the local children. Half of the group had the opportunity to visit the local kindergarden for more games with the smaller children. After our short break, we continued working on our service sites until we had to leave for lunch. Today, the other service group that is staying in the same hotel arrived, giving us the opportunity to connect with new people. Despues de lunch, we took a short trip to the market to purchase jackets and cookies. Next, we watched a short video and listened to a speech about malnutrition in toddlers in Peru. During dinner circle, we spoke on community. Now, we are getting ready to hit the hay.
Buenos noches a todos.
– Lily and Ilana
June 16, 2016
We began our day with another early morning wake-up and headed to the village of Chacco to begin our half-day of service. Even though the work is hard, every group is making steady progress towards finishing the cuy houses; many have even finished the foundation and are working on making adobe bricks to begin construction! At break, many of us engaged in an exciting game of soccer against the local primary-school children, leaving us exhausted but excited for a rematch tomorrow (we lost despite our hard efforts!) After a delicious lunch, we bussed to a neighboring village where we visited a local shaman who gave us the opportunity to ask three questions about our future lives by reading coca leaves. It was a truly unique experience that we were all extremely excited to participate in, as we learned more about the importance of shamanism in Peru. Tomorrow we will continue to work on our service projects, as well as explore the local culture as we enter our second week abroad!
Today we went to Patabamba after a yummy breakfast of omelets, the group headed to the buses for an hour-long ride. The ride was beautiful and led us high up into the mountains. Once we were there, we learned several different Quechua words.
Then we split up into five different groups. Each group had their own families to help out for the day. The groups shucked corn, de-shelled beans, and some picked produce. We had a picnic-style lunch on the mountainside and played soccer and games with the local children. The mountain was gorgeous and proved to be a perfect photo-op. Then we all drove back to home base and packed for our hike to Machu Picchu tomorrow morning.
After dinner we had mentor groups and talked about the several different activities we have done this week. It has been an eventful day, but everyone is excited for the hike tomorrow.
The past two days we trekked the Veronica mountain trail and camped underneath the stars. We set out early in the morning to Aguas Calientes, hiking from the campsite to the busses and then hiking for another three hours. After a restful night of sleep in Aguas Calientes, most of the group set out to enjoy the one-hour hike up to Machu Picchu. Others opted to sleep for another hour and take the bus up. Machu Picchu was a magnificent sight; there are not enough words to describe the view. After a thorough tour of the ruins, we went into town for lunch. During our free time to explore, a few of us tried a special Peruvian ice cream. After an hour of exploration, we took a long train ride and then a bus back to our home base in Cusco. A hot meal of spaghetti and meat sauce was awaiting us when we arrived. Everyone is ecstatic to be back for the next two days of service before we head home.
Ari Lui and Ilana Ferguson
June 22, 2016
GLA began their journey to Machu Picchu on Sunday, starting with the Veronica Trail. On the second day, the students were pushed to their limits with a six hour hike through the Andes Mountains, and a three hour night hike through the jungle. On the third morning, the students finally made it to Machu Picchu! Pictures of one of the seven wonders of the world do not do it justice. Today, the students went back to their service sites and also went to a Llama/Alpaca farm. There, they were able to feed and pet the animals. With only one day left, the students are all eager to share their stories with their families and friends.
June 23, 2016
Yesterday was our final day in the city. We began our day with a last early-morning wakeup, then headed to Chocco for a day of hard work as we pushed to make the cuy houses as complete as possible before the next group of volunteers arrive. After a few hours of hard work, we were able to play lighthearted games of volleyball and soccer with the local children, and ended our final visit by giving the kids a few parting gifts. We were all extremely sad to say goodbye to the friends we had made throughout our weeks of service! After lunch, we had the opportunity to go to a local artisan market where we eagerly spent our last sols on alpaca/llama sweaters, blankets, and tokens of our travels to bring back to our friends and
families. For dinner, we bussed to a traditional Peruvian restaurant where we were able to try local delicacies, such as guinea pig, and sample a variety of desserts. Throughout our dinner, we were treated to entertainment in the form of music, singing, and traditional dancing. Some students were even invited on stage to dance! Going to bed we were all felt extremely thankful for all the friends we have made, and excited to go home with a greater notion of what it means to have a broader global perspective.
Today marked our farewell day in Cusco and the end of a fabulous two weeks! Starting early this morning, we wished our friends safe travels as they travelled to the airport and embarked on their journeys home. Because we all had varying departure times, many students leaving in the evening had the opportunity to explore downtown Cusco and purchase last minute souvenirs/food, experience the Festival of the Sun, and buy fresh juice at a nearby marketplace. We are all very excited to share our amazing experiences with our friends and family back home, and are all extremely grateful for all the opportunities of cultural immersion that were offered to us these last fourteen days.