Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Summing it all up

Between traveling and spending time visiting family and friends, it's been a while since I posted here. I just realized that I head back to school in 3 days, so it's about time I said chau to this blog.

I had no idea what to expect going to Peru. I knew that living in a shantytown would be a completely different experience, but I couldn't fully fathom it until I actually was there.

I felt like I raced through my last year at Dartmouth with little idea about what I want to study or do with my life. So one of my intentions in taking a quarter off was to slow down and think about my future. I can't say that everything is certain now, but I do know that I really want to study international development and want a career that allows me to live abroad or travel all the time. That's definitely not the whole picture, but it's something I can work with.

Living in Peru also affected my life on a more basic level. Every day I now find myself marveling over and celebrating normally unremarkable things - hot water, being in a car, getting places in 20 minutes instead of 3 hours, washer and dryers, dishwashers, toilet paper in public restrooms, ice, free water at restaurants, and more.

More importantly, I've realized that with this acute, personal awareness that things are drastically different for so many other people comes a responsibility to work toward fixing them. I met some of the most amazing people, who deserve so much more than they were given.

Deisy is one of the smartest kids I've met, but it's almost certain she won't get anything more than the most rudimentary, cursory education. She deserves college but could never afford it. Even at 7 years old, Nayeli is incredibly studious and hard working but there's only so far she can advance with the pathetic educational resources in Huaycan. Bryan is 10 years old but still can barely read and write, something that his teachers have never taken the time or effort to fix. Kids and parents there don't need handouts to change their lives, just an opportunity, be it educational or economic.

I don't yet know how to go about doing anything about the billions of stories like these, but I can't imagine not trying.

Since my Peruvian adventures are over for now, this is my last post on this blog. Feel free to comment this last time or look up my photo albums on facebook (one more to be added). Thanks for reading!


PS. I'm going to take one minute to insert a quick shameless plug for LLI and I'll be done. The Light and Leadership Initiative is one of the best organizations I know of and is doing wonderful work. Take a minute and check out their website and blog, take a look at what they're up to, and donate a few dollars if you can.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Last post from Peru!

I swear it was a few weeks ago that I wrote the "First post from Peru" blog post, yet here I am just one day from heading back to the US. On Sunday, December 12 at 8:15 pm, I will arrive in Phoenix.

The last couple of weeks have been incredibly busy. The two other teachers left on November 30th, so the other two volunteers and I have been covering all of LLI's classes. And besides that, I had to write exams and review sheets for all of my classes (18 documents in total), create a curriculum for a new class next year, and more. I feel like I've been working from 8 am to 9 or 10 pm each day for the past couple of weeks, but it's completely worth it.

I haven't posted in forever, so I figured I'd write a quick wrap up post before getting home. Once I get home and sort through my photos, I'll put up a photo album on facebook, so this is just going to be written.

As for my weekends, we've spent several in Lima and one outside of the city. The first two days of December, we went to Lunahuana (about two hours outside of Lima) to go whitewater rafting. The trip was really fun, between the actual rafting and the hour or so we took to just swim in the river. Last weekend, we went for a last LLI lunch with Lara in Barranco and played a pretty intense game of Risk at night, with a visit to the art museum and Indian food the next day.

However, Thanksgiving was probably the most fun out of my last few weekends. We decided to have a two part celebration. On Wednesday, we went into Lima and had a great brunch at Cafe Z in Miraflores, then prepared the most amazing tacos (with fresh guacamole!) and strawberry milkshakes for dinner. On Thursday, we went to an all-you-can-eat sushi bar for lunch, went to a women's rights march in downtown Lima organized by a group LLI works with, and then saw RENT the musical in Spanish at night. I ate so much that weekend it was ridiculous, and all of the food was wonderful. And RENT was done really well, between the actors' great voices and the fact that it didn't even sound like it had been translated.

Since then, we've just been wrapping up all of the classes. We did a photo workshop for art class, where we built pinhole cameras out of shoe boxes and developed the photos. And the day after that was the chess tournament, which Hereka and Jhordi won again! And tomorrow we will be giving out attendance prizes for all of our students, then there's a field trip for our 9 best students from all of the classes. We will leave for Lima at about 5 pm for dinner and to see STOMP. We'll get back at about midnight, then my taxi comes about 3 hours later to go to the airport.

And that's the highlights of what's been happening. I'll post here one last time, but it won't be until I get home since I don't have the time to finish this properly right now.

Until my next post from the USA!