By Carmen Leung (Western University)
If I could describe my trip with one single word, it would be life-changing.
This was my first trip to South America, and though I initially felt nervous, I was also very excited about what was ahead. From the moment we landed (at 3 a.m.!!!), all the way to the end of our trip, the wonderful individuals at Nexos Comunitarios showed us an abundance of love. I will never forget their kindness and intense amount of energy from the moment we met. Gabo, Maricarmen, Eliana & Carlos did a wonderful job in helping us understand our surroundings, and integrating us into the culture. Not only were we able to hear stories about the history of Lima, but we were also taken to the Lugar de la Memoria and on a city excursion to see it all as well.
From my short week working with NC, I was able to see how dedicated and driven the minds behind the organization are. Though NC is a small organization, it is one that strives to make a huge difference. My time with NC was incredible; I was able to immerse myself within the organization, and felt as if I was truly making a difference in the community. I was able to spend time with the Peruvians directly, and got to see a side of Lima that most foreigners don’t. While it wasn’t always clear what we were doing next and I didn’t always have direction, I always knew I was safe and in good hands with NC.
While this trip was unquestionably wonderful overall, there was one particular challenge along the way; the language barrier was a hurdle I know myself and many others had trouble with. Thankfully, this PhotoVoice project emphasized a lot of non-verbal communication, and I know all of the participants were still able to make connections and jokes with the kids. Though they may not be very wealthy in terms of money, the children we worked with were some of the happiest and most loving I have ever met. They helped me see happiness in a different light, and reminded me what it feels like to be a child again.
My trip may have ended a week ago, but I will carry what I learned in Peru with me for the rest of my life. Whether it is lessons about giving more and taking less, or about the power of communication, compassion, and love, I feel empowered to make a difference in my own community and possibly abroad one day. I’m very glad to have experienced Peru the way I did. Peru, and the wonderful individuals I met will always have a place in my heart.