By Sharon Schuppe (Carleton University)
There are big moments in life that come and challenge you without your express decision to engage in them. They sneak up, push you, and help you grow without much of a second thought. Then there are opportunities for challenge that require your express consent and even work to engage in. You must apply, register, or make contact just to begin a challenging experience. While both are valuable, the second type requires us to realize that the difficult option is worth it–that the trouble it takes to get there is worth the trouble there will be actually there. My internship with Nexos Communitarios was one of these challenges. More than the language challenge, more than cultural differences, more than the actual researching and writing, I was challenged to grow on a more personal level. I learned skills for interacting professionally and personally with individuals my age,older, and younger. I learned the importance of advocating for myself. I also learned thatI have limits–they can be pushed and moved but this takes time and effort.
My time in Peru was one of the first times I was truly challenged to make difficult decisions that balanced my own needs against others. I came home with more confidence in my decisions and also my own moral compass. When people ask me about Peru I can show them pictures, talk about my work, discuss human rights in Peru, and name places I visited but none of is feels like it fully sums up the experience. What made it so special, important, and even life-changing for me were the relationships I made with others and the relationship I made with myself. For me, to fully express the essence of the trip I need to delve into my own feelings and thoughts while I was there, good and bad. However, I cannot do this concisely because to shorten the experience to a few key lessons undervalues the importance of the journey to reach these values. It reduces the experience to a few trite proverbs that do little to encompass the magnitude of the experience. It ignores the steps that I took and the process because the journey truly is more important than the destination (to use such a proverb.)
Thus, any reflection requires a look to the entire 6 weeks, which is more than I have the time or mental preparedness to do at the moment. All I can say is that when I applied, I had no idea of the tremendous journey I would complete, from believing I was fully ready to realizing my limitations and working to overcome them. I am grateful for the time I spent in Peru with NC, the person it made me become, and the people I had the honor to get to know. Muchas gracias.