Sunday, July 3, 2011

Groton Peru Day 6

Sunday, July 03, 2011

It’s raining for the third day in a row, something none of us had expected here. However, in spite of the mud, the cold and the wetness, I am truly surprised to see all of the students, teachers, and even our Peruvian family members still wanting to contribute to the work. I actually think that we’ve been quite effective in terms of filling up the land with rocks, despite the inconvenient weather. As for me, I’ve been a little bit sick and staying at home for the last two days, which gave me time not only to sleep but also to reflect on my first few days.
I came to realize that our jobs here aren’t nearly as simple as placing rocks on the ground or creating a study space. Of course, we have great faith that what we do for the people in Ancho Pancha will make a huge difference for them. However, I feel that this trip will be even more beneficial for us. First of all, we have the chance to experience and adapt to a whole new culture. I know that this may be a kind of a challenge for some of us who don’t speak Spanish very well—I know it definitely is for me. Having dropped Spanish a year ago, I found myself attempting to say something to my Peruvian family, and not making any sense at all. My goal is to at least try, no matter how badly I might make a fool of myself, so that I can show my family how much I appreciate what they’re doing for me.
Second of all, coming here has made me realized how unaware I’ve been of the world. I knew that going to boarding school would make me a bit isolated, (hence the “Groton Bubble,”) but I’d always considered myself as pretty familiar with global issues. However, I realized how wrong I was on the first day I arrived. We hiked up to see the granaries on the mountain in Ollantaytambo, and when we reached the top, we could see the breathtaking view of the town surrounded by the mountains. It was this view that first made me realize how oblivious I’ve been, and how I had lived in such a small bubble even in Korea, what I had considered to be the “real world.” Also, when Naomi and I first arrived at our house, the kids were ecstatic to see us and our gifts that we had for them. They were little things, like markers, nail polish, and magnets. It was really amazing to see how such little things could make them happy. Even though the people here don’t live in mansions or have flat screen TV’s, they’re perfectly content with their lives, if not happier than those who do possess such materials.
The last thing that I’ve discovered here so far is the importance of teamwork and the sense of community. Before coming to Peru, when I found out who was coming, I was somewhat relieved yet disappointed to see that the majority of the people were in our form; I was relieved because I knew it wouldn’t be that awkward, yet disappointed because I also wanted some people from different forms that I’d never talked to so that I would get to know them better through this trip. This partially came from listening to stories from people that went to Peru last year. Gia, a very close friend of mine, told me how this trip created bonds between her and other people that she would’ve never expected, especially with students in other forms. I thought that I wouldn’t be able to have this kind of experience, since most of the people were fourth formers and I already knew Bobby pretty well. However, I was once again proven wrong. We’re barely half way through the trip, and I have already found out so many things about all of the people that I never knew before. I thought that I had already known them well enough, but I now realize that there’s so much more to learn about everyone else here. As we work together in the mud placing heavy rocks, it’s amazing to see the teamwork that we are capable of creating. As Teddy says, all the students get along with each other very well and also with all of the host families. In fact, Naomi and I live right by Connor, Hugh, and Mitchell’s house and we had the opportunity to play Uno with them and their family almost every night. Also, when I was sick and lying in bed, Naomi and Hugh went out to get help while Connor and Mitchell came into the room to check on me. Later in the evening, everyone else came to visit me, which already made me feel a lot better to have some company. Just being together with people gave me an incredible amount of comfort and helped me appreciate the closeness of our group.
During my free time, I read a book called “Cyrus the Great; the Arts of Leadership and War,” which recounts the story of Cyrus, the Persian Emperor who is known to be the most successful and benevolent leader. It talked about how although Alexander the Great conquered far more land, he was also far more brutal and tyrannical when it came to handling his subjects. Cyrus, on the other hand, desired no wealth for himself, listened to everyone’s opinions, and treated each of his subjects with respect and careful attention. One of the first discussions that we had was about different leadership styles, and both Mr. Gemmell and I turned out to be INFJ’s, who aren’t outspoken leaders but still contribute behind the scenes to help achieve our goals. Like Cyrus, I hope to develop myself as an effective leader that everyone can benefit from. Furthermore, I hope that as we continue our service during the rest of our time here, I will be able to stretch myself, overcome my challenges and create long-lasting relationships with the people here.

Stephanie Kim
Form of 2013


Jungi said...

I hope you feel better soon and enjoy the rest of the trip. I'm sure you'll have a great time with your friends at Peru.

Nishad Das said...

What a thoughtful write up! Stephanie I hope you get better soon and I hope the weather breaks in Ollantaytambo. Looks like team Groton is having an amazing trip. Thank you for all your wonderful blog descriptions.

Take care,

Mr. Das

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