1,000 days later she understands that the greatest gift of all was not the chance to travel, but the chance to find life in a small town in the Northern Andes of Peru. The donkey races and pick-up soccer games. The lunch invitations that turned into hour hikes into the campo and all night parties. The process of culture shock and learning the art of enjoying alone time. The delicious new flavors and the custom of offering a meal to every visitor, even when you have no food to offer. Finding the human connection and the art of understanding foreign customs. Showering them with kindness and using love as a universal language. Turning the “fish bowl” into an opportunity to be an example, with the hopes of making a small change in life of someone somewhere, and at the same time knowing that she could not help everyone everywhere.
With the high school entrepreneurship class I started each day with the video project and they LOVED it! The class clown even tried to solicit a North American girlfriend. The video pen pals were a class of students in Washington D.C. who were studying Spanish, so we communicated entirely in Spanish. The Spanish teacher also happens to be a RPCV from the first group of volunteers who re-entered Peru! Due to privacy issues, I can’t make the US videos public but here are the ones from my students in Peru.
No Sleep Till Peace was started as a personal journal of my adventures in Peru, and surprisingly it has grown into a small community of almost 3,500 followers who have laughed, cried, and supported me and my Peruvian counterparts from afar.
My heart is full and so is my trashcan from all the tears and tissues. At the end of the day I am so glad to have something to miss and people who are going to miss me, because it means that I have integrated and done my job as one more member of this little Peruvian town. I am also so happy that my journey in Peru isn’t over and continuing as a third year volunteer in Lima means that I am only a 16 hour bus ride away from this little slice of home.
The connection I have formed with Peruvians in my community is the greatest gift I will take away from this entire experience. My co-workers at the municipality who made me eat papa rellena and dance with them for a month before they trusted me to participate in projects, the 24 year old girl who is my “chat about boys and life” best friend, and the countless women who make sure I am fed, have a seat at the town donkey races and who treat me as their own daughter… those are the connections that I cannot quantify on any report.