Survey Response by Ashley of Broadview Heights, Ohio
|What is your city, state and country of residence?||Broadview Heights, Ohio|
|How old were you during the intercultural travel experience you are sharing? How old are you now?||I traveled abroad to Peru in 9th grade (13 years old). I am now 23 years old.|
|Where was this intercultural/travel experience (geographically)?||I traveled to Iquitos, Peru.|
|Was this your first time in this country &/or with individuals from this cultural background?||Yes, going to Peru was my first experience going abroad. I had been around Spanish speaking individuals before, but had never been as immersed in the Spanish culture as I was when I was in Peru.|
|Describe the intercultural experience you wish to recall in detail:||We worked with Peruvian people from a small village to help them build an orphanage. Our church and a local missions organization provided the funds for all of the supplies. We showed up to a giant field of dirt and were told to carry boulders, mix cement from scratch, and dig a 20 foot by 12 foot deep hole for a septic tank. I was one of few Americans who could speak Spanish and served as a translator for most of the trip. For 10 days, we worked in the hot sun for about 10 hours a day, digging the trenches and holes, and mixing the cement.|
|How did you arrive in the location?||We took several planes from Cleveland, to Miami, to Panama, to Lima and then a small plane into the village. We then had a 9 hour bus ride to the location we were going to.|
|Had long were you there and had you been there before?||We stayed for 10 days.|
|How did you feel different than those you were encountering? Describe in detail.||I felt different for several reasons. I remember not knowing how to drink the coffee (it was a shot of espresso you were to mix with a cup of milk, and I was trying to drink it straight) or how to use the bathroom (a giant hole in the ground, covered in straw). I saw so many people working on the street selling fresh fish and chickens (that had just been defeathered).|
|What was the biggest surprise, difference or shock between your pre-travel perceptions to your actual experiences?||Near the local village was the town garbage dump, and we went and visited it to see what the people were like. People actually rent small lots of land where the garbage is dumped, and get to keep whatever is dumped on their section. I remember the smell, and the tiny make-shift houses that were set up on top of the garbage. I also remember how happy the children were. Somehow, despite their living conditions, they didn’t know any better and were still able to be happy.|
|What was the best (most memorable) and the worst part(s) of this experience?||My most memorable experience was sitting down in the trash in the garbage dump with my guitar to play songs for the kids. I remember teaching them “Jesus Loves Me” in Spanish and how much they loved singing the song.
The worst part of the experience was having to leave and feeling helpless, since I wanted to give the people in the dump a better life.
|What was the most beneficial part of this experience for you (what did you learn)?||The most beneficial part of the experience was helping build the orphanage and finding out several years later how many children had found parents because of our hard work. I learned that sometimes you don’t see the results of your hard work right away, but the result is just as rewarding (if not more) years later.|
|What are the most important insights of your experience you feel are most critical to share and/or emphasize?||I think it is important for people to travel to gain an appreciation of the way people live around the world. Traveling also gives you a greater appreciation for life in America. Before the trip, I took advantage of things like clean water and water pressure in the shower. People don’t understand how good we have it here in the United States.|