Saturday, July 2, 2011

Groton Peru Day 5

Day Five

“I would just work. And then I would work some more. And try to pay attention to whatever the work was teaching me.”
Jacqueline Novogratz, The Blue Sweater

Rain again today—the cold, soaking sort of rain—and we trip leaders were surprised to see such weather two days in a row because we are in the midst of the dry season. We decided to keep students from the work site for the morning and met the students at a local café instead in order to continue our focused discussion. Interestingly, most students were quite clear that they wanted to get out to the worksite and continue on our quest to cover the field with large rocks as a substrate for the concrete we’ll be pouring next week, and it is entirely conceivable that we would have submitted to their desire to work in earlier versions of this trip, but we’ve come to recognize that there are many ways we can use our time together well and that our work in Ancco Pacha is not the sole focal point of our experience.
Yesterday afternoon, we discussed a bit of Lewis Hyde’s The Gift—a book that considers the nature of gift-based cultures—and used this as a means of talking about how cultural misunderstandings emerge and how we can come to start defining service. We also considered some quotations from Jacqueline Novagratz’s The Blue Sweater as a means of gaining a deeper understanding of how one comes to understand how to serve the needs of others through self-awareness, careful listening, and respect.
This morning, we met in the center of Ollantaytambo and continued our discussion over tea in the hope that the cold rain would abate and allow us to head to the worksite. After circling back to the matter of personality types through a group problem solving project, we asked students to spend some time reflecting on what the work was coming to mean to them as individuals and as a group. Below are excerpts of responses.

On individual purposes of work:

“The work for me is a complex concept. I’m here for more than just lifting and placing rocks in a dusty patch of ground….I’m here to learn... Learning entails not only gaining an understanding of culture and service, but also a full contemplation of myself.”
Nick Funnell

“My work is to make a difference in someone’s life in a positive way.”
Sam Gosden

“My work is to help others to get rid of some of the notions that some people have of Americans by adapting to the culture….I also consider it my job to realize and break stereotypes that I may not have known existed within myself.”
Naomi Wright

“Of course there is manual labor and trying to speak in Spanish. My work is in trying to show my appreciation for all my Peruvian family is doing for me.”
Stephanie Lee

“My work is to be so truly alive within these 17 days and to truly experience the spirit of service, and to try my best to spread it out, not only in Groton, but also in my hometown in China.” Vicky Zhang

“I define the work for myself as what I need to do on the worksite to help further our project.”
Sinclaire Brooks

“My work here is to realize that life in the U.S. is not normal, and by interacting and sharing cultures, I will appreciate more the life I have in the U.S. and the beautiful traditions of other cultures.”
Connor Popik

“My work is to be able to understand what service is.”

“My work is to reassure myself that I have the power to help others in need.”
Byanka Llugo

“My work: the lifting of rocks to eventually make a concrete field puts a strong sense of humility into my soul. I can understand what it is like to truly improve a community and reflect on what really is important in my life.”
Kyle McKiernan

“My work here is to meet others who are both so alike from me and so different from me. In addition, I need to build on relationships I have with people I already know.”
Naomi Primero

“The work for myself is to better understand myself through interacting with different people and a different culture. Through our discussions of leadership styles, I hope to understand how to be a more effective leader.”
Anita Xu

“My work, my goal, is to become the son of my family”
Bobby Min

“ My work is to be present.”
Hugh McGlade

“My work as an individual is to better myself and widen my cultural horizons.”
Mitchell Zhang

On the work of the group:

“Our work is to understand and attempt to embody the school’s motto, for through our work, we can lead all sorts of change, no matter how small.”
Catherine Walker-Jacks

“Our work is to improve the United States’ global image, one service trip at a time.”
Mitchell Zhang

“Our work together is to place the puzzle pieces of our individual ideas together in order to work most effectively.”
Hugh McGlade

“Our work is to understand the customs and culture in order to listen better to their needs as a means of understand how we can help them.”
Anita Xu

“We are here to create hope and build love.”
Bobby Min

“Our work here is to connect to others through the best of our abilities”
Naomi Primero

“Our work is to understand the meaning of community.”
Kyle McKiernan

“Our work is to show that we care about others and are interested in being in their position.”
Byanka Llugo

“The work of the group is to learn how to work together as a collective efficiently. In so doing, we will learn how to be better listeners and better leaders in the future.”

“The work of the group is literally more concrete than our individual work. I believe it is the group’s work to build the concrete playing slab.”
Connor Popik

“The work of the group is more than a concrete slab. It is not the completion of our project but rather a measurable assimilation of culture between us and our host families.”
Sinclaire Brooks

“Building a court for people is great and meaningful, but beyond that, it’s more about how the work we did here leads us to do more when we are done.”
Vicky Zhang

“Our work together is to build long lasting relationships on the trip with our families. We also need to build deeper relationships with each other so that we can all work together more effectively at Groton.” Stephanie Lee

“Our work is to connect with both communities that we are in and make them feel as though they are making a difference for us as well.” Naomi Wright

While I was compiling these excerpts, the weather broke, and students headed down to Ancco Pacha with Jason and Nancy and Teddy (our ten year old) to move some rocks. We had planned to go on an overnight trek this weekend, but snow is covering the higher altitudes, so we are planning to stay in Ollantaytambo and look forward to the possibility of heading off for a trek when better weather emerges. Until then we plan on continuing to build relationships with our host families and on laying more rocks down on the field in Ancco Pacha.

Now, as darkness falls, students are heading back to their host families for dinner and what will doubtless prove to be a night in which they turn in early.

Nancy and I continue to be truly amazed by and grateful to be with your children. We hope osmosis renders our ten year old as kind, determined, flexible, fun, and trustworthy as we have found your children to be.


Craig Gemmell


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