I am so grateful to have been a part of this experience with these incredible young men and women. They worked hard, shared laughs, grew as a family, and always pushed me to be a better leader. As we finish our stay in Cusco, the students left some notes below. Thank you to everyone who put their trust in me and Jake, and who supported all of us throughout the journey. We will see you back at Gilman on Sunday afternoon!
Muchas muchas gracias
This trip helped me define my comfort zone, and has created so much appreciation for all the opportunities I take for granted at home. This is something that I will always be thankful for.
-Owen Van Dyke
This trip was vital for me because I learned about the perspectives of a different culture and I enjoyed helping them out at the school by building a classroom and sidewalks. I also was surprised at how fast I bonded with my homestay family with card games and learning about their lifestyle. Oh the places we’ll go!
This trip has changed my perspective about less fortunate communities in particular and how fortunate I am. It has showed me that just because a problem doesn’t affect me doesn’t mean I shouldn’t actively try to help.
- Daniel Griffin
This trip was important for me because I learned about how other lifestyles work. This trip also allowed me to step outside of the box and expirence some new things that blew my mind. LET’S GO!!!
This trip meant a lot to me because I created tons of new friendships and strengthened many more. I was able to learn many different things about my classmates.
The trip showed me a whole new environment with different people that had very different experiences than me. This led me to learn a lot about different cultures. Also seeing Machu Picchu for the first time was very cool and interesting.
The trip taught me to value all the things I have at home. Also it taught me that every culture is different, whether the cultures are big or small.
This trip was a break from all the stress and school work I have at home. I made so many new friends and created great memories.
My experience in Peru has taught me to be less judgmental not only about other cultures, but about those who have different views in my own community. I am also leaving behind some amazing children who helped me step into the shoes of a completely different life filled with delicious foods and wonderful people.
The people I’ve met on this trip have completely changed my perspective of other cultures and showed me how different my life is from many parts of the world. The more I’ve learned about other people’s experiences, the more I’ve realized how little I know about the world outside what I’m familiar with and how much I want to learn about it.
Over the last two weeks, I have met many new people with very different experiences that have changed my perspective. The joy of the people of Invierno and the students at the school showed me that happiness is really not based on material things.
Over the trip I’ve learned to get out of my comfort zone. I have met many new people with different experiences that have made me step out and take action.
This trip was more than a break, more than a service requirement. The transition from Baltimore to the Amazon taught me to never take anything for granted. From nightly ice cold showers to being waken up by the jungle, the two plane rides did not only put me in a new place, but brought me into a new culture. These two weeks taught me new lessons that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
This trip has taught me to appreciate little aspects of my life that I had not thought about before. Hot showers, doors, and bugless rooms are all things I took advantage of before but have grown to appreciate over the two weeks without them.
As a chaperone on the trip, I have learned so much from the students and the people of Peru. I will bring home with me a greater appreciation for others, a broadened perspective, and an enhanced understanding of true leadership.
By Cailyn and Gobi
We started the morning later than usual with an 8:30 breakfast at the Ollaytantambo lodge. Following a large breakfast filled with meats, cheeses, bread, eggs, and yogurt, we met outside and shared six leadership stories that ended with a large group hug. Several of those stories showed great vulnerability and having someone to lean on helped everyone feel stronger. We boarded the train to Machu Picchu and enjoyed a packed lunch of two sandwiches and a chocolate muffin. After about two hours we arrived at the base. We took a short bus ride up the mountain overlooking the town and reached the top around 2:30. We hiked to the top of the city for a nice view of Machu Picchu before hiking on the Incan trail until we reached a rickety old bridge and turned around. The views were beautiful, but the high altitude pushed some people out of their comfort zones. After our hike we went into the city and our tour guide taught us all about how the Incans were able to craft such an ingenious architectural landmark. We saw many roaming Llamas including a baby in the center field and two chinchillas, which look like large squirrels, resting in the sun temple. After hiking back to the visitor center, Mrs. Anthony and and Colin were kind enough to stand in line to get our passports stamped with a special Machu Picchu stamp. At 5 we took a bus ride back down to the base of the mountain and caught a 6:30 train ride back to Ollaytantambo. On the train, we were treated to Peruvian sauceless pizza, which was way better than it sounds. After arriving at the train station and walking back to our hotel, we had a quick reflection journal entry about our time in Machu Picchu. We wrapped up the day with our last ANCHOR session of this trip. The day ended bittersweet as it hit us for the first time that our time in Peru is coming to a closeup just two days. Everyone was very grateful for this wonderful opportunity to meet many new people and experience a very different culture than in the United States. Tomorrow is the last day we will spend with Johan who has been with us since the beginning, and we will all remember the lasting experiences and knowledge we gained from this trip for a very long time.
In the early hours of the morning, the sounds of the jungle churned in the cold air. Upon arrival at the main building, we were greeted by a breakfast which consisted of bread, eggs, pankcakes, cake and various fruits. Following the morning feast, we gathered in a circle to share two Leadership stories. Mr. Scott and Cailyn opened their lives to us through their moving and empowering leadership stories this morning. We then departed from the Saona lodge to go to the airport and leave Puerto Maldonado. About an hour after departure, we arrived in Cuzco, and were greeted by a blast of cold air. We navigated through the city and traversed the surrounding mountains for a little over an hour. Following the arrival at the lodge, we briefly settled in, as we were running late for dinner. At the restaurant most of everybody decided to have the alpaca hamburger. As we began to walk back to the lodge, we were greeted by the bright, colorful lights of the town square. We completed the day with the nightly gathering ANCHOR, an acronym to review the day and discuss the plans for the next one. All of us went to bed very happy, as we were eager to visit Machu Pichu the next day.
P.S. thank you to parents for our dinner tonight! We ended up not having time in Lima, so we made sure to go to a nice place for our first night in Cusco. Muchas Gracias! It was great!
We started our day at 3:00 because we were awakened by a jungle rainstorm full of loud crackling thunder. And the booming sounds were spaced out so perfectly that we were at least able to fall back asleep. Later it was time for breakfast at 7:30. We were then notified that we would be spending more time than we thought, in Johan’s words “when it rains in Peru no one wants to do anything.” This was a relief to us because it meant more time to play cards with our friends and relax in the hammocks. At 10:30 we walked to the school for our final day of service. We also carried with us two of the three bags of donations (clothing and sports equipment) that were collected in the spring at Bryn Mawr. The third bag of girls clothing will go to the girls at the children’s center from yesterday. At the school some people re-assembled and cleaned fans, while some painted a sign as a tribute to service, and others put up a new sign for the school and built yet another sidewalk. After finishing what needed to be done, we went to our homestay families for lunch at 12:30. It was sad to say goodbye because we had built close relationships with our home stays and their kids. At 2 o’clock we all met and walked back to the shelter. For our hard work we were rewarded two hours of relaxation. Most people like Owen used this time to shower and relax, however, Cal decided to spend a large portion of the break trying to dry the clothes that he had washed the previous day with the heat of a candle. At 5:00 we met and some of us shared Leadership stories. These are stories in which we describe points in our life that affected who we are today. These were very eye-opening as we learned so much about our travel compadres. At dinner we are introduced to a very new cutting-edge meal known as chicken and rice, but we loved it. We did ANCHOR and reflected on the day! We are sad to leave Infierno but very excited for Cusco and Ollantaytambo tomorrow. Bed time!
P.S candeling derives from the Latin term candle and the Latin word ing which combines to create the controlled warming of clothes to make them dry.
Thanks for your patience- it’s been a few days since we have had clear internet access/cell service.
By: Gobi and JackThe day began at the Saona shelter in Infierno. We got to wake up a little later because we did not have to work in the morning. After breakfast at 8 am we had a 40 minute boat ride filled with beautiful views to a wildlife shelter. The boat ride was the first time in a while where we had time to just sit and relax. When we arrived at the shelter we saw over 70 different animals including a large number of different monkey species, parrots, and by far the cutest baby sloth you could imagine. After touring the shelter we ate lunch and got ready to prepare and feed meals to the animals. Each animal recieved specialized portions of fruits, vegetables, and mashed potatoes with eggs. After feeding all the animals we took an hour and a half hour boat ride to the Carlos’ Amazon Expidition Lodge. Upon arrival we recieved our room assignments and had 2 hours to hang out and play cards. At around 5:30 we were able to see an amazing sun set before a night time boat ride to look for caiman. Unfortunately we were unable to find a black caiman which is the biggest of the three species, but we were still able to see plenty of baby white caiman which looked like hybrid alligator and lizards. Dinner was at 7:30 pm where we enjoyed a delicious beef and rice stew with yuka and plantane chips on the side. After dinner we had a quick ANCHOR session before going to sleep early due to a 4am wake up time. Overall the day was interesting and relaxing for everyone and made us very excited for the coming days.
By : Maelynn and Jamie
The day began at 5:00 am in the dining area. We were all tired. After breakfast, we had a 20 minute boat ride to Lake Sandoval. There, we hiked through the jungle for about 40 minutes to the canoes. We canoed for about 2 hours watching for animals like birds, monkeys, and caiman. On the canoe, we enjoyed snacks like apples, oranges, and passion fruit. After that we took a break at a local family’s house for about 15 minutes. There, we relaxed and got ready for the ride back. As we canoed back, we began to race back to the entrance. We made the hike back then took a boat back to the Expedition Lodge. Before lunch, we had downtime where we napped, read, and worked on our Leadership stories. After lunch, we had a little bit more downtime, so some of us went kayaking. We took the boat down the river then kayaked to a beach. There, we played soccer against the locals and splashed around in the water for a bit. Sadly, we lost 1-5, but we had a great time. Later, we gathered on the pier and took some group photos with the sunset behind us. Then, we talked for a bit and played volleyball. After volleyball, we went on a night hike where we saw night monkeys, tarantulas, scorpions, snakes, and much more. It was really cool to see all the wildlife that lived so close to where we were staying. After that, it was time for dinner, ANCHOR, then bed. The day was very long, but we had so much fun and bonded a lot as a group.
By: Geneva and Cailyn
At 7:30 A.M. we arrived at the dining area of Carlos Expedition Lodge with our bags packed for our journey back to Infierno. After a hearty breakfast of fresh fruit, bread, and eggs, we boarded a boat and rode down the river to the city of Puerto Maldonado. While on the boat we rested, read, and enjoyed the scenery. We got to the city and piled into the van that took us to the children’s center. We were greeted by a hoard of little children excited to meet the gringos. Inside the dining room, we heard the history of the children’s center from the head of the center, Yolanda. There are about 15 kids who live there for various reasons and come from all different family backgrounds. We also heard the stories and experiences of two other employees and some of the children. Then we split into three groups, one group cutting fruit, one preparing food, and the other transporting fruit. While cooking, the “preparation squad” was whisked away for a dance party with the children. They told us they normally only listened to Christian music so hearing pop was a special treat. We danced and played with them and challenged them to a game of soccer. We were surprised to see three guinea pigs at the center, which were not pets! While playing with the kids, they walked around offering us bananas picked from the bushel hanging near the grill. Our group rendenzvoused in the dining room and enjoyed a meal of rice, chicken, and fried plantains. At the end of the meal, plates were stacked, food composted, and photos taken, and we were ready for our ride back to Infierno. As we drove in, it began to rain, so when we arrived at Saona, we shouldered our bags and prepared for the muddy trek back to the shelter. We returned and got ourselves situated back into our rooms before returning to the dining area to do an activity. We played a quick round of categories and prepared to share our leadership stories. After we ate our dinner of pasta, salad, and plantain fries, we circled up and reflected on our day with ANCHOR.
Hello friends and family of the Gilman/Bryn Mawr School program in Peru,
The group had an incredible weekend in the jungle at Carlos Expeditions Lodge and is heading back to the community today to continue working on their projects! Everyone is happy, healthy, and in great spirits. They will continue to update this blog once they get wifi access again, but for now here are some photos of their weekend adventures. Please don't hesitate to call the WLS office at 303-679-3412 with any questions or concerns.
Thank you for your continued trust and support,
The WLS team
By Saum and Ian
Our day began at 7:30 with a breakfast that included scrambled eggs and plantain chips. We set out for the school at 8 and began to work. When we arrived everyone split up into their groups; Owen, Cal, Jack, Gobi, Oliver, and Daniel completed laying cement for the sidewalk. It looks professional. Geneva began painting a sign while everybody else took to the grueling task of moving a mountain of sand. Although we have been working on moving it with buckets and a single wheelbarrow for two days now, there is still a considerable amount left. A few hours into our work, the local students started to set up a volleyball net and invited us to play. After only a few games, with no prominent winner, hours had already passed. Jefferson, the local table tennis champion showed his athletic prowess on the volleyball court by saving seemingly impossible shots by kicking the ball with his feet. After some intense volleyball games, we split into our groups to have lunch with our homestay families. Today we had sausages with rice, beans, plantains and freshly squeezed orange juice. Our two hour lunch period flew by as we played blackjack and gin rummy with our house family. After lunch we embarked on the “Anaconda Challenge” or the “Community Immersion Challenge”. We walked all around the village and learned different skills from various community members such as shooting a bow and arrow to hand washing socks until perfection. We also learned traditional dances and how to cook using banana leaves. There might be video of the dancing. Following the challenge we came back to the shelter to shower and then have dinner. We enjoyed rice, beef, soup and salad for dinner. After dinner we completed ANCHOR and went to bed early to start the journey further into the Amazon tomorrow.
Note from Ms. A- I am not sure what the phone service situation will be as we head down the river to our next lodge. We will do our best to post every night, but if it is two nights, I promise we are doing great and will have some amazing photos as soon as possible!
By Nate and Oliver
We began with a delicious breakfast yuca fries, fritada, and plantain chips. After breakfast we walked to school and began work. We worked for 5 hours in 95 degree heat (with lots of breaks for water and ping pong). Nate finished painting the bleachers and moving sand for the new building, while Oliver built half of the sidewalk for the new entrance. We took a break to play soccer against some local college students. We won the first game 3-0 and lost the second game 3-2. We went back to work for two more hours until 1. We then walked to a local store and got our homestay two liters of Coca Cola or Inca Cola. We then spent two hours at our homestays’s house. Oliver ate lunch and then played soccer with his honestay’s son. Nate ate lunch and then walked to a soccer field with his homestay’s grandson and three other kids. The kids climbed trees to get some fresh guava for Nate, Gobi, and Jack and it was delicious. We then walked back to the shelter and relaxed till five when we then had an hour long learning session. We then ate dinner at 6:30 and completed ANCHOR. We then started this blog, and now we have finished the blog.
Goodnight folks, Nate and Oliver
By Mac and Daniel
At 8:00 am we ate breakfast and left for the school soon after. The school is very small and simple, with about 10 classrooms surrounding a soccer field. It isn’t much but all the kids seem to love it. At the school we split into three groups, one group started working right away, moving wheelbarrows of sand and rocks into piles in one group to start the building of the concrete sidewalk. While another group began sanding and cleaning the bleachers built by last year’s group and the third group began building an extra classroom. We took a break to play a friendly soccer game with the local children and most of them were really good. We then finished our work for the day and went to our homestays. They served us chicken and rice with fried yuca and it was delicious. After that we watched some television and talked. On the tv we watched the news, which consisted of compilations of women beating up men, and people ran over by speeding cars. They were a family of 6 with 4 pets, 2 dogs and a 3 month old cat and a blue headed parrot, but sometimes another dog likes to come in. We left the family’s house and walked back to a river near our shelter where we studied the ecology of the river. We found an invertebrate called perros de aquatico which translates to water dog. Then we walked back to the shelter and found some tarantulas. After the tarantula sighting we ate dinner of beef, rice, and salad, followed by Ian’s birthday celebration. We then did our ANCHOR for the day and it was candles out at 9:30!!!!!!
PS: one local student in the photos below was wearing Gilman shorts today! He also happened to be amazing at Ping Pong