In June of 2016, I was lucky enough to be part of a team who spent 10 days in a small village called Chirapa in Peru. Our group worked for six months planning and organizing fundraising events to make this trip happen, and it was all worth it!
I have heard many people talk about international humanitarian work, however I believe that Xperitas took it one step beyond by organizing home stays for our group. Living in homes within the community allowed us to experience real life in Chirapa and we were treated like family instead of guests. By the time the 10 days were over we felt as though we lived there! We worked at the local school on tasks such as digging trenches, hauling bricks and cement and removing stumps in support of the Parent Committee and their efforts in building classrooms at the local school. One of our favorite activities was getting the chance to play games and sing songs with the students at school during recess. A typical evening was spent socializing, playing cards with our host family or a playing a game of volleyball with the community teens. We also found time to explore the village with the help of the young citizens of Chirapa!
There were so many wonderful things that I experienced in Chirapa that it is hard to pick just one! One of my favorite memories was spending time with the 16-year-olds’ graduating class. They spoke no English and we spoke just a little Spanish but we still found ways to communicate. I was so surprised at the topics that were brought up by these young people. Maybe I was more surprised that they were aware of the current issues we as Americans are facing right now. It was nice to be able to share with them how we see our world and that our home, the United States, is much more than what is shown on international news. We did get to share more of our country on the last day, which happened to be the 4th of July! Chirapa threw us a combined farewell/independence party! What an amazing way for our two countries to come together and celebrate! They sang the Peruvian national anthem and we sang our national anthem. They cooked us a delicious meal and we made typical American foods for them to try (hot dogs, peanut butter and jelly and apple crumble!) It was a wonderful celebration and a perfect way to give them a taste of the USA!
This experience has changed me. The bonds that we created with the community and with each other will stay with us forever. What a wonderful thing Xperitas is doing! I hope that everyone will at least once in their lifetime be able to experience a program with Xperitas.