Accompanied by Mr. Shure, a history teacher, and Mrs. Wiesel, Health Center Director, a flock of students flew to the mountainous Peru and immersed themselves in the local dynamics and culture. The trip lasted for about one week and a half, and the group engaged in various activities, including hiking, staying at a Spanish family, and learning about agriculture.
The group fully engaged in cultural events that took place during their stay. The vigor of Peru communities awed the students and the two chaperones. Mrs.Wiesel, in particular, was amazed by the lively Peruvian markets, where the dexterity and creativity of the locals are showcased on a daily basis. The local Peruvians would set up these exuberant markets full of eye-catching, handmade goods in the open space in the town center and take them down by nighttime. The group enjoyed shopping among the closely packed stalls and talking with the merchants. Rebecca Mucheru, ’19, bought an alpaca sweater and is very happy with her purchase. During the evenings, the group enjoyed jubilant parades and celebrations that honored customs and the God of Sun. “One night, the villagers, wearing massive costumes and all that, paraded through the entire village,” Mis.Wiesel recalled, “We later learned that there was a funeral; but they were celebrating life.” The Peruvians’ unexpected and paradoxical attitude towards death puzzled the students and opened up room for more interpretations. “We went there during the celebration of the winter solstice, so there were parades and parties every day,” Becca added, full of enthusiasm. The travelers also hiked up Machu Picchu, which would have been the highlight of this trip if not for the teeming tourists “who were so annoying with their long selfie sticks.” “It’s important to learn about the culture while enjoying it, so you’re not just taking advantage of it,” said Becca.
The trip was physically-challenging, with strenuous hikes and long treks, along with the general lack of hot water in showers and difference in language. But the challenges offered by the trips allowed for room for growth of character and strengthened the bonds between students, and between students and faculties. “I don’t get to spend a lot of time with students the way faculty in the classrooms and dorms do,” confessed Mrs.Wiesel, “It was really helpful for me and my job to learn more about their lives and what they are like at school when they are not sick, ‘cause that’s the only time I get to see them.” Moreover, she is amazed by the students’ ability to pull through adverse situations. “They could accomplish so much that nobody thinks they were capable of. So here at Loomis, when the students tell me they’re struggling, I would say ‘well, I literally saw you do impossible things, so now I know you can overcome these challenges; you climbed that mountain you didn’t think you could climb, you lived without electricity and heat, so I know you can do these things, you can push through the hard stuff.’”