Interested in our service immersion trip to Peru? Learn more about the trip in our latest blog post from director Gary Kirk below. Hear from our student leaders in this short video on why you should apply. Join us May 23 - June 12, 2016 to #ExperienceUtProsim.
In June, I had the good fortune to travel to Peru with VT Engage’s new Associate Director of Global Engagement, Eliza Wethey. Our goal was to lay the groundwork for a new VT Engage service-learning program. What follows are excerpts from my travel journal.
I hope my experiences may be helpful to anyone thinking about applying to participate in our inaugural Peruvian service immersion program in summer 2016.
Eliza lived in Peru for several years working with service-learning students, community groups, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). At VT, one of Eliza’s jobs is to help VT Engage develop high-quality,international, co-curricular service-learning programs. It’s a big task, but her knowledge and experiences have prepared her to lead this work.
Eliza’s great network of potential partners and her knowledge of the country made Peru an obvious first place to establish a new VT Engage program. It is an excellent complement to our other, long-standing international service immersion program in the Dominican Republic.
The first thing you need to know is that this was my first visit, not only to Peru, but to South America. Since I am not fluent in Spanish, I relied heavily on Eliza who speaks Spanish and even knows some Quechua, an indigenous Andean language. For me, not being able to communicate was humbling.
The second thing that is important to note is that it’s not easy to get to Cusco. I left Richmond at about 4 p.m. and arrived in Cusco around 9 a.m. Cusco is in the same time zone as Blacksburg.
On the flight from Lima to Cusco, I started to see how different this landscape was than anything I’d ever seen. At some point I casually glanced out the plane window at the clouds and noticed something poking through. The Andes peaks that began to more regularly appear were jagged, some snow-capped, and incredibly beautiful. The closer we got to Cusco, the more of the mountains I could see.
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