Peru Trip Combines Culture, Service

A group of Dimond students got the opportunity to travel to Peru to get the chance to experience the culture and even contribute to a local elementary school over Spring Break and the following week.

The trip lasted 10 days including travel, with 24 hours on the way there and 24 hours on the way back. Fifteen people from Dimond went, and were joined by four seventh-grade students and three chaperones from Redington High School in Wasilla.

The group of students helped around a local elementary school in the small town of Ollantaytambo, which is near Cuzco.

Dimond Senior Savannah Moore said, “We spent two days working on a service project at a sort of charter school equivalent, called Yachay Kuska, which roughly translates from the native Inca language of Quechua as ‘learning together Cuzco.’

“We painted different painted parts of the school and helped make mesh roofs to provide shade for the children when they play outside, since it is a very nature-based school.”

Dimond Sophomore Hazelanne Stuart said, “The service part of the trip was an elementary school called Yachay Kuska. We were assigned specific jobs to clean up and renovate the area to make it nicer.”

The service helped the students to learn more about the local culture and contribute to the small town.

Dimond Senior Grace Schutte said, “We both learned about the Peruvian culture and the history of Peru, but then we also helped fix up a school. There was a lot of mini tasks in that like painting bathrooms, making and repairing roofs and making signs, stuff like that.”

Besides working on the school, students were also able to indulge in the culture of Peru and experience some of the popular areas of the country, such as Machu Picchu.

Stuart said, “I think the main purpose of the this trip was to immerse students in a new culture and environment. Every day our group went around to tour a different part of the country, all in which had their own highlights.

“Machu Picchu was pretty amazing. Our group leaders had us all blindfolded as we walked up the Lost City of the Incas, and when we took them off we were all pretty amazed. Exploring the different parts of Lima was fun too, since we got to go to the beach and see street art.”

Moore said, “My favorite part would have to be meeting so many cool people. We met people in both the big cities and really small towns from many different professions such as textile workers, whose jobs are to shear alpaca, spin the wool, die it with natural dyes and then weave it into intricate patterns.

“Also the lady who we worked with at the school who was actually the founder, who decided to create a less traditional school when she moved to Peru and saw how poor the education in the public schools are.”

Schutte said, “We went on a lot of tours and did some sightseeing. We visited Machu Picchu and Saqsaywaman, which are some important Incan establishments form their era.”

The trip encouraged students to learn about the Inca culture and they were given the opportunity to experience it in a very inclusive way.

Schutte said, “I got to try some new foods and drinks, Chicha Morada was my favorite drink, which is this purple drink made from corn, pineapple, lime and apple. I definitely learned a lot about the history, but also about the Inca beliefs like the Inca Cross that includes the puma, condor and the serpent.

“I also learned how the Spaniards managed to subdue such a once-flourishing culture by destroying their holy places and building their own cathedrals out of the stones.”

Stuart said, “I definitely learned a lot about the Incan people and their history and I learned how rewarding it is to do things for others who don’t have the same opportunities and resources.”

Going on any trip that brings you out of the country, especially without your family, can teach you a lot of different things by itself.

Schutte said, “Personal experiences I got was dealing with homesickness, being responsible with my soles, the Peruvian currency, and being grateful of what we have here in the United States like secure homes, good jobs and good schools.”

Peru taught and showed these lucky students all about the culture, history, people and sights that it has to offer with this very inclusive trip.

“I think branching out and exploring other cultures is one of the best things you can do to make yourself a thoughtful and adventurous person,” Schutte said.