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Perusing Peru

I am no stranger to long plane rides, hours of waiting in airports, the frustration of not sleeping for 24 straight hours, the relief of finally arriving to my destination and the endless happy memories that traveling gives me. Whenever I hear about the international trips that Christian Brothers organizes, I always wonder if the […]

I am no stranger to long plane rides, hours of waiting in airports, the frustration of not sleeping for 24 straight hours, the relief of finally arriving to my destination and the endless happy memories that traveling gives me. Whenever I hear about the international trips that Christian Brothers organizes, I always wonder if the students who go have similar experiences as mine.

The most recent CB trip was to Peru, so I talked to Mason Sheya (‘19), Angelina Abad (‘19), and Theo Zittel (‘19) to find out what their experience was on this international adventure and understand their view on traveling as a whole.     

The three students all had different, but similar reasons for choosing to spend ten days of their summer vacation in a country in which they have never set foot.

“I wanted to meet more people from Christian Brothers and to help out others in another country,” Theo said.

“I had never been out of the country,” Angelina admitted, and this trip was the perfect opportunity for her to try something new. Similarly, Mason wanted an experience that would “push [her] outside [her] comfort zone.”  

The group spent their hectic days moving around cities such as the capital, Lima, to witnessing the Sun Festival, which is only celebrated once a year in Cusco. They also hiked the historical sight of Machu Picchu and realized how much more beautiful the sights were in person.

“You see pictures, but when you are actually there, you experience how lucky you are to be there and the beauty of the place,” Theo said when he remembered his time in Machu Picchu.

A few Peruvian boys playing a game of soccer.

However, not all of their time was spent sightseeing — they also spent time at an elementary school in the Sacred Valley, where they volunteered to help around the school and with the children.

For two days, Christian Brothers students painted the school, worked in the garden, and interacted with the kids by playing soccer and volleyball with them.

“My favorite day was the first day we volunteered at the elementary school,” Mason said when I asked her about her most memorable moment of the trip. She enjoyed that day because she was able to go into a class and teach the children some English.

“That was really difficult because I take French and trying to translate from Spanish to English was a lot harder for me.”

Mason witnessed and admired the strength of the local people and the children from the school.

“It’s inspiring to me that they work so hard and they are appreciative of what they have,” she said.

The children that Mason, Angelina, and Theo worked with made a lasting impact on them. They learned about a new culture while giving back to a community that doesn’t have as many resources as Christian Brothers.

“I think going on this trip has made me want to have my life surrounded by service,” said Angelina. She added that she did not do as many service projects as she might have liked to, but her time in Peru opened her eyes to many opportunities for her future.

Since Peru is a much poorer country than the United States, Theo realized how many opportunities he has had at Christian Brothers.

“I learned how fortunate I am to live in the U.S,” he said. “We take things for granted here.”

Their time helping children and learning about a whole new culture made them realize the importance of going to new places and serving others who are less fortunate. Traveling allowed them to have the experiences that give them a greater understanding of our world.

Angelina (left) and Mason (right) with a student from the local school.

But while traveling is mostly a positive adventure, there are many ways a trip can go wrong. At the beginning of the trip, the group flew from Sacramento to Los Angeles to Houston, where they experienced inconveniences that turned into major issues. The students, teachers, and parents boarded their plane in Houston thinking that they would arriving in Peru in just a few hours. Unfortunately, they waited on the plane for three hours without moving from the gate because the plane broke down. Everyone then had to get off the plane and wait while their flights were rescheduled. It didn’t end there — since there were no flights available on such short notice for so many people, they were split into multiple smaller groups that got sent in different directions, all trying to make it to Peru.

Mason said that it was two days of straight flying and that they had to be split into six different groups just to get to their destination and begin the actual fun and interesting parts of the trip.

“We learned to work around [the problems] and how to deal with stress,” Theo said about their flying fiasco. The rest of the trip, everyone was prepared for the inconvenient moments because they got through this difficult problem.

While this nightmare discouraged the CB party, they were able to face these challenges and frustrations to have an amazing trip in the end.

“After getting all the gifts from the [children], that’s warmed my heart, that made up for all the obstacles we had to overcome because it was worth going through all that trouble to have the opportunity and to help them,” Mason said.

These three students learned that they love to travel and think everyone should get the opportunity to visit countries all over the globe. The adventures and memories that people create while stepping out of their comfort zones and experiencing new countries and cultures will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

“It’s a different experience and it’s so much more worth it than you think,” Angelina said.

“You get to see other parts of the world that you are not used to and get to learn a lot about the people who live there,” Theo added.

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