- Group:St. Mildred’s-Lightbourn School
- Age:15-16 years
- Group Size:12 students and 2 staff
- Project:Care and Archaeology + Spanish
- Destination:Cusco, Peru
During November 2017, 12 girls accompanied by 2 teachers from SMLS travelled to Peru. We were there for 10 days on an adventure with the goal of community engagement and cultural immersion, visiting Lima, Cusco and Machu Picchu. The trip’s itinerary included various service projects such as care in a hospital, teaching in a school, and archeology. We were immersed in Peruvian culture from many activities such as salsa lessons, trips to local markets, sightseeing, and a visit to Machu Picchu.
In preparation for this trip, we collected and made new resources for the school as well as created games and activities for the children at the hospital. This included items like flash cards, posters, books, and stickers.
Upon arrival in Peru, we were all awestruck at the absolute beauty of Peru. Everything, from the mountains to the unique architecture, was something to admire. Right from our initial impression of the country, we were all ecstatic. In addition, our accommodation was very nice and we were all extremely comfortable which made it very easy to adjust to the altitude and new surroundings. From the moment we took off from Toronto, our group had been nothing short of overjoyed and our welcome into Peru exceeded our expectations.
Our group was lucky enough to have three service projects. The first project lasted one afternoon at the Projects Abroad office where we got the opportunity to clean newly uncovered Incan ceramic fragments. We learned about archeology and the proper means of uncovering and cleaning artifacts. Each of us had the chance to clean and identify numerous ceramic fragments. Another service project we worked on was at the San Juan de Dios hospital. Our first activity at the hospital was singing to a group of children who lived in the hospital. Later we had a little party with them with jello, bubbles, and stickers. This was one of the most meaningful experiences I have ever had. Never had I seen more joy on someone’s face than I did on these children’s faces when we they were playing with us. From the moment we stepped into the room, they were so overjoyed to be with us which revealed to many of us the importance of gratitude, positivity, and happiness in our everyday lives.
The largest service project we partook in was at a local school. We were assigned a class and had three days with them. Each day we helped their teacher, played with the kids, and taught them English. Similarly to the kids at the hospital, the students at the school were so extremely kindhearted. By the end of the project each of us had formed a bond with our students and were sad to say goodbye. It is fair to say that we learned more from the kids than they learned from us and our teaching. Their kindness and outlook on life is something everyone can learn from and because of this, each of us came back to Canada with a new perspective.
Machu Picchu was an experience much anticipated by everyone. The night before we left for Machu Picchu, the town experienced torrential downpour, we were all worried this would affect or delay our visit to the site. However, this only enhanced our experience. When we arrived at Machu Picchu, we were not only in the presence of the breathtaking mountains and ancient city, but this astonishing site was also coated with mist from the rain making this experience even more surreal than it already was. Words cannot describe the absolute beauty that is Machu Picchu.
This was a truly life-changing experience. Upon returning to Toronto, each of us had grown in different ways and had become more well-rounded and appreciative people. Each meal, outing, encounter, and project offered something unique to us and every experience from this trip holds a very special place in each of our hearts. We learned something so unique and special from everything we did that it was extremely difficult to leave and return to our lives back home. This trip left each of us feeling so extremely grateful and humbled by the experience, and each of us would go back and do it all again in an instant. Projects Abroad defiantly made this trip extra special and I would without a doubt recommend Projects Abroad to anyone looking for a deeply enriching experience.
By Mai-Yin Johnston, St. Mildred’s-Lightbourn School student
For more information on volunteering as a group in Peru, please click here. Otherwise, please follow the links if you would like more information on volunteering as a group on a general Care & Community project or the Inca Archaeology project.