Missing You Already
So. Everyone left. Eric and I are left to enjoy all the potatoes and aji to ourselves. The last day of packing up, evaluations and drivers forgetting to unload all the luggage left us with excitement right to the end. I think I can speak for Eric and Anna when I say we had a bomber three weeks with all you chicos. Some people asked me for some sending advice and I had just read something that I thought might be fitting that I think I’ll share with you that left bien temprano.
“According to Popo, the official education system stunts intellectual growth; teachers must be respected but you don’t need to pay them much attention. Leonardo Da Vinci, Galileo, Einstein and Darwin questioned the knowledge of their era. If they had accepted the stupidities of their elders taught them they wouldn’t have invented or discovered anything.”
– Isabel Allende
Thanks for being so beauty. You guys have huge brains and ask big questions.
Today’s our last night altogether. Though many of us are saddened by the idea of leaving our new family that we have created these past few weeks, we are also excited to bring home all our memories made with one another and our new ideas and perspectives about the world as a whole.
It’s crazy how 25 teenagers and three mentors coming from China to New York, with different lifestyles and backgrounds could create such strong relationships in only a matter of three weeks. It’s already an unspoken rule that we will remain in contact, no matter how annoying the facebook and twitter posts become. Some of us were already planning a road trip (yes Canada is included) to hit all 28 houses. Being here with people who are so similar but so different at the same time caused all of us to have special bonds, and inside jokes, that we will all cherish for a while to come. Not only will our relationships be cherished but our new ideas and perspectives as well. Every night we talked about global issues and though many times we found ourselves bickering with each other, we all left with new thoughts banging inside our heads. We can only imagine the reactions we are going to receive when people realize how much our minds and hearts have expanded. We’re excited to reunite with our families, but there will always be a small part of us here in Peru.
-Sage and Anisha
A day of “lasts”
Thursday was, according to Eric, “a lot of lasts”. The last day of service was relatively low key. We finished up our caminos mejoradas and did a few more eco-fridges. This was followed by spirited games of world cup and regular soccer.
After some showers, rest and plaza shopping, our last Spanish class began. All four groups did an activity together. Our Spanish teachers split us into five teams: A – E. We were told to come up with a team name and cheer wile two or the teachers set up the activity, a scavenger hunt. The rules were that we had to speak in Spanish, and decipher scrambled Spanish clues revealing the locations of more clues around our casa. Needless to say, it was extremely difficult. Our final clue, which would reveal the location of our treasure, roughly translates to, ” I am where you hide your secrets, shoes and fortune.” Without knowing the commas were there, we were frantically asking kitchen staff, where the “secret shoes” were. Eventually, we worked out the answer was “bed,” and “los ganadores” discovered the treasure, chocolate for all of us. We were all sad to say goodbye to our Spanish teachers, who we gave notebooks from Cusco and exchanged emails with. After dinner, we watched a video and discussed consumerism.
The End of A Great Weekend
On Sunday night our tentative salsa skills finally proved useful. After dinner we walked to the plaza for the celebration of Andahuaylillas’ patron saint, San Pedro. We could hear the loud music even from our house. It stunk (or to some people it was the heavenly scent) of street food, like cow heart. We were part of the pretty early crowd since we actually had to get sleep so there were not a huge number of people there. This didn’t stop it from being very upbeat and energetic. We had the chance to walk around and dance with native Peruvians. Although, for a small minority of us dancing came easily it mostly consisted of spinning in circles and jumping up and down. However we did meet a few fans that just did not want to stop dancing with specific students. When it came time to leave we thought most people enjoyed jumping with, or laughing at our clumsy group. It was really tiring but luckily a lot of us stopped at the store for ice cream on the way back, which was a delicious incentive to come home. We shared funny stories of experiences at the celebration and got a great night of sleep.
-Drew and Charlotte
A Full Day of Culture and History
Time is flying by and sadly we have one week left. Today we had breakfast in the morning after we woke up and it was Annika’s birthday! After breakfast, we took a bus ride to Inca ruins in the Sacred Valley. We took a long, tiring hike through the ruins. In the end, it was worthwhile because we were able to admire the magnificent view of the city below. After visiting the ruins, we went to the market of Pisac and we bought beautiful paintings and other local hand-made items. Shortly after, we went to Awana Kancha, a llama and alpaca farm. We had some serious bonding time with them and fed them grass (a couple of us even managed to get a selfie with the four-legged animals). Lastly, we finished our day by going back to Cuzco to learn about the original music of Peru. We listened to four different songs and we found every song unique because they all represented a different story. It was not just quality of the sound that made up the performance, but the instruments that were used were also astounding. Overall, we gained more knowledge about the Peruvian culture and history.
-Christine and Elizabeth
The Bike Ride
Today we had planned a relaxing bike ride through a pleasant downhill countryside, but instead we were met with unexpected steep upward climbs that left most of the group gasping for air. However, not all was steep upward climbs, we eventually reached the downhill slopes that had been promised and got to enjoy some beautiful scenery. Although for the most part, pleasant and relaxing, the slopes did offer some difficulties to some members of the group. But some minor bumps and bruising, the group remained together.
-Evelyn and Megan
We have passed the halfway mark of our trip and Erin, Anna, and I couldn’t be happier with the progression of all of the students. Most notably, everyone has become more knowledgeable about community service, leadership and teamwork, and Peruvian culture. We’ve also learned the importance of flexibility when travelling and working with new people in new places. My confidence in their ability to change the world grows more every day. With only a week left, I ask friends and families at home these two questions:
1) How and what can YOU learn from this experience?
2) How can you continue your student’s personal growth once back home?
We’ve been working hard at our service sites the past couple of days. We split into three teams in order to work efficiently on multiple houses. Our jobs entail first clearing a pathway with pickaxes, then laying stones to create a walkway, and finally cementing the cracks in between the rocks to make the paths stable. It’s hard work, but the teams work well together and the owners of the homes often help out. Children sometimes come out and play with us. They are always smiling and willing to work with our limited Spanish skills. They even help with the labor.
Most teams have finished one house and are moving on to other houses in the village. We hope to complete two or three houses per team by the end of this trip. Our overall goal for this project is to improve sanitation in this community by limiting the amount of dirt tracked into houses where disease could be spread. We have not started the adobe fridges yet since we are waiting for the bricks to dry, but we are excited to expand our knowledge in basic construction work (we never know when that might come in handy).
-Grace O. and Grace M.
The Adventure Continues
*We apologize for the resolution, this program does not have access to wifi at the moment.
The Village of Manco
A brief update…
What Do We Stand For?
Today we explored the Cusco marketplace and the coricancha, and completes our Spanish evaluations – ay Dios mio! Our first day of work is tomorrow and we’re all excited to get started. We spent the evening putting together our group flag!
Safe and Sound
All 25 of your precious sons and daughters have arrived safely and are hanging out in the hills of Cusco. Well be taking a few days to rest, acclimatize and get familiar with the area. Work begins Tuesday – more updates to come!
We’re Ready For You!
Hey team! Meet your international staff members: Anna, Erin and Eric.
All that’s left are some finishing touches and your arrivals. Hurry up and get here- your local and international staff eagerly awaits you!
We can’t wait to meet you all. See you soon!
-Eric, International Director