Honors Experiential Learning Project in Peru

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For my global studies Honors Experiential Learning Project I went on a service trip to Cañete and La Florida, Peru with the University of Cincinnati student organization Serve Beyond Cincinnati to learn about cultural differences while simultaneously helping people. Our actual work in La Florida consisted of mixing cement and the transporting the mixture using wheelbarrows up to the houses to create the concrete flooring. Additionally we helped build the eaves of the houses, which was the final step in their construction process. Ultimately, two different families were able to move into their improved housing before Christmas. In addition to this, one of the most poignant experiences for me was a Christmas party for the children of La Florida that we helped organize at the Fuller Center facility in the town. Over 100 children were given hot chocolate and fruitcake, and then each child received a toy as a Christmas present. The children were so overjoyed and grateful for the simple gifts they received, it was one of the most touching moments of my life. During this process we worked directly with members of the community. We were supervised by and gave assistance to Peruvians working to benefit their community. Working directly with these people helped me appreciate and have a much greater respect for people of another culture. Cultural competency is an extremely important attribute in the globalized world of today, and experiencing another culture firsthand through personal experience with diverse people helps facilitate this. We worked with the Fuller Center Housing project run in Peru by a man named Zenon. Much of the knowledge I gained on this trip was due to the intellect and wisdom of our director, Zenon. He is a leader in this area, and exemplifies the workings of a grassroots movement. Zenon cares deeply for the people of Peru and La Florida. He was educated in the United States and lived in Cincinnati, and now he is instructing a woman of the community named Monica to run the organization. He has been very influential throughout his lifetime. At one time he was encouraged by many to run for office, but felt his talents could better be used through directly working with the community. Zenon was a personal friend of Jimmy Carter and described calling him on the phone to ask for advice. He also knew Millard Fuller who started Habitat for Humanity and then The Fuller Center. Zenon is of indigenous descent and is versed in indigenous languages. He is adamant in encouraging people to be proud of their indigenous heritage. As much as we worked he wanted to make sure we were educated on the history of Peru. We watched educational videos on the Nazca lines, and listened to discussions of the current political and social climate of Peru while at the Fuller Center facility in Cañete. He also took us on excursions white water rafting, examining the natural wonders of the Paracas Islands, and exploring the city of Lima to facilitate our experiences with different facets of Peru. The leadership of Zenon and Monica, and the hard work of the people of La Florida for the betterment of their community exemplify the potential of grassroots movements to create positive change. I am grateful that I was able to be a part of this and contribute to their work for improved housing and living conditions in their community. This trip has inspired me to work more as a global citizen by aiding both my community locally and the international community in my future endeavors. Songs: Inti raymi (San Juanito) by Wayna Picchu Vivir Mi Vida by Marc Anthony

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