A Student Reflection on the Peru Spring Break Immersion Trip: written by Amarilis Medrano04-01-2014
Trying to explain and describe my experiences while in Perú is a very hard task to accomplish. What I witnessed and what I saw is difficult to put into words as I believe I cannot do it justice.But I hope that this little bit helps to shed some light on the ways in which the Perúimmersion trip has impacted my life.
Taking the road less traveled has taken a whole new meaning for me in Perú. My experiences have been some of the most eye-opening. Considering that I had never left the North American continent, Perú was so new and unknown to me. I did not know what to expect but I soon realized the gem of an opportunity I had been given with this trip.Meeting the people of Casa Generación throughout the course of the trip allowed our USF immersion group to see the other side of Perú, the side that lives outside of the touristy and posh Lima. We encountered real suffering, pain, injustice and corruption. This is the side of Peru that the rest of the world or even the higher-classes of Peruvian society prefer to turn a blind eye to.
Just by seeing the inhumane treatment of the poor and the homeless in Perú I came to realize how shunned these people are from the rest of society. There is a lot less acceptance for them. I was fortunate enough to meet several of the people of Generación and to my surprise, they were very willing to open up to our immersion group. They told us stories of how they ended up living in the streets and how they found ways to survive. I also heard testimonials of the ways in which state officials and police officers abused and stole from them. Instead of offering support and protection, the state is adding on to the problem by being indifferent and uncompassionate. Gaining this personal insight from the people of Generación made me admire and respect them for their courage. They are the true strength of a society because they are the ones that go through the most suffering and yet they are the ones who overcome the most.
It is this visit to the other side that has made the difference in the perception I hold of Peru and its people. This immersion trip made me push the limit to stay out of my comfort zone so that I could better understand the current situation of this developing country. There is much to be done in Perú, much injustice to be fought against. This is the most important fight; yet, there are those who have chosen to not even acknowledge this struggle. As time went by and the more I was able to interact with the people of Generación, I was able to understand that simply by being there, speaking to the people exposed to these injustices, we were becoming more aware. And in the end that sense of acknowledgment of the injustices is already a big step in making an impactful difference.
On a personal level, the trip allowed me to appreciate the gift of language. I spent a lot of the trip translating for my fellow Immersion group members. It was a wonderful feeling to know that in some odd way, I became a link between two cultures and people. It was a beautiful experience to see how, despite our different backgrounds, we all were able to connect. There were no prejudices or discrimination. There was simply a mutual acceptance between both groups. Seeing this helped me understand that it is up to us to make of an experience what we want to get out of it. We must not fear expanding and venturing out to something new, for the unknown is not to be feared, it is simply to be discovered and understood. I think our fear tends to come from us not understanding the unknown and that is why we hardly ever leave our comfort zone. This trip has served as a way for me to understand and to open myself up to new people and to a new life outlook and that is a concept that can only be fully understood once you have experienced it first-hand.