At the outset of this trip, the faculty collected all sort of electronics from students–ipods, cell phones, computers, etc…—and asked students to use the time away from instant messaging and Facebook to look thoughtfully into-and-outside of themselves. A few days ago, we asked students to offer some reflections about what they discovered through the course of the trip.
Observations about Self
I worry less about myself in a foreign country. I love being open to new ideas. I love food even when it makes me sick. I am a better listener than I am a speaker.
I understand now that I adapt pretty well to foreign places as I felt very comfortable soon into this experience. I have also learned that I handle difficulties pretty well as when I got sick I did not get upset and I think that I bounced back fast, always trying to keep a smile on my face.
I have learned that I need to be around others to truly enjoy myself. I used to think that I thrived when alone. When the group went on the hike, I felt lonely for the first time in a long time. Meeting up with everyone at the ruins was a great experience, and I realized then that I enjoy being with others more than being with myself. I also depend on others way more than I thought I did. In short, I realize that happiness must be shared.
I need time to reflect on life and what I’ve done before going to bed each night
I still don’t really know who I am nor what I really want to become, but I’ve noticed that whenever I film, I have to detach myself from the group, and this gives me a fresh perspective both on myself and others.
I like to understand everything and learn as much as possible.
I am a lot tougher than I thought.
Before coming on this trip, I despised walking long distances and exercising. Now I can say that I climbed mountains literally and figuratively.
Adopting a can-do attitude enables me to push through a tough situation.
I have learned that I am more durable than I previously thought.
During this trip, I have learned that my grit extends further than I had previously thought.
I am more defined by my family than I had realized.
New Observations about Others
Our group works better under light pressure. It only takes a short time before people form cliques. Unexpected kindness is the most valuable kind of kindness.
I learned that in a working environment it is almost inevitable for conflict to arise among people. I have also noticed how different people react to conflict in many ways; some shut down and refuse to continue and others try to fix the problem in order to move on.
I have noticed how backgrounds affect people’s way of life. For example, Peruvians have extremely different treatments for some illnesses and have different ideas about what is appropriate.
I have realized that people, especially in this Groton group, are willing to help others genuinely and readily–even without being asked. This quality makes service easier and more enjoyable.
Not everyone needs material wealth or other things to be happy
Jokes are universal–and people from different backgrounds can so easily bond over music or sports.
I learned that people who have less material wealth than me are happier.
I was inspired by how strong others in the group were.
I have learned that other people are attentive and curious: I had a lot to say to the host family and they a lot to say to me.
I have found that my peers have a larger capacity for acceptance and compassion than I had previously thought. I have also found that there is only a minimal correlation between material possessions and happiness.
Anyone can be kind when given the opportunity.
New Observations about the World
Despite cultural differences, the majority of the people are similar in their warm kindness toward their guests.
I have started to see how much suffering there really is in the world. Also, just knowing about people’s hardships from afar is completely different than seeing it firsthand.
Dancing brings the world together, and speaking a new language is magical.
I have noticed the large impact the US has on the rest of the world. Ollanta is so affected by tourism that I can only wonder what would happen to this place without it.
I have also realized how much a climate can affect an environment’s people. The people in the US are just as diverse as its many climates.
There are many ways to communicate other than speaking.
The Hiram Bingham train (ED: The Hiram Bingham train takes passengers from Cusco to Machu Picchu and back in opulence: ca $1200 per person) passing through Anco Paccha sums up the world in a nutshell. I have always learned about socioeconomic differences and Gini Coefficients, but I never really experienced it until now.
The world is a far more complicated place than it seems.
Language isn’t really an issue. You can get around it. The environment is really important: I don’t want the stars to change here. Maybe industrialization isn’t as good as its made out to be.
I realized that I need to take myself out of my world at moments and take the time to learn more about the world’s problems in order to find a way to help.
There is a lot of common culture in the world.
People’s capacity to care for others doesn’t correspond to their particular circumstances.
The world is most beautiful when you are not looking for it
New Observations about Service
Service only works if all parties collaborate.
In serving others one must be open to allowing them to help. I have started to realize how fulfilling service is and how great it is to be able to see the progress step by step.
I have learned from Keri and my own experience in Anccopacha that service does not always help. If people do not want to be helped, it changes things. It was critical that we went to Anccopacha with the mentality that we were not there to do everything, but that we were there to work with the community.
Just because you want to help people doesn’t necessarily mean that they want help.
In order to successfully complete service, you must be open to doing most anything.
I never really understood our school’s motto before (“Cui Servire est regnare” (ED: translated To serve is to rule)). I don’t want to sound self-righteous, but I’ve gotten able to know rather than to memorize this motto. Service, in short, is a gift, an altruistic act of kindness through which the receiver and the giver both benefit.
Doing little things can make a big difference.
Service is not nearly as important as the relationships you build.
I learned about the concept of altruism and how service is a gift that should be given continually.
Service bears importance and meaning beyond the tangible results.
We are about to board the plane to New York and hope to arrive tomorrow morning. All kids are healthy, happy, and together! Thanks once again for sharing them with us and with the people of Peru.
Nancy, Craig, Sarah, and Nishad