On 28 November 2016, 19 World Challengers embarked on a plane to Peru. After nearly a year of planning and getting to know one another, we hoped we were prepared but had little idea of what to expect. After braving a gruelling cross-Pacific flight we arrived in Peru – which for many was their first time in South America, and for a couple their first time leaving Australia.
Despite World Challenge’s fantastic program that taught us a lot about the cultural and logistical challenges that would arise, there is really nothing that can prepare you for arriving in a country where the vast majority of people do not speak your language, in which you have to manage 19 people that all have individual opinions and things that they want to do. For us, this was the ‘Challenge’, however I think that the most valuable experience we took back home was what we saw of the ‘World’. From the busy city of Lima, to the spectacular ocean views and wildlife of Paracas, to the gorgeous architecture and culture of Arequipa, to the incredibly welcoming island people of Lake Titicaca who were kind enough to allow us a look at their homes and traditions, we were never bored in this country which had so much to offer. However I think the place we learnt the most from was the village of Goyeneche, or more specifically the people. Here we spent a few days sleeping in the community hall and playing with the local children; building a sand pit and vegetable garden and painting games on the ground for them.
Despite the rampant sand-flies and somewhat fragile toilet facilities, these incredibly kind people welcomed us with open arms. One little girl, Massiel, was visibly blind in one eye and we donated the remainder of the money raised toward a corneal transplant for her so that she can grow up without fear of being bullied for looking different. Her mother was so grateful for this that she killed one of her family’s ducks for us to eat on our last day, which was a huge gesture and much appreciated after three days of quinoa soup. We are hoping to keep in touch with these people and continue to contribute what we can. Another notable part of our trip was our trek through the Andes. Though we had to push through illness, injury and serious fatigue, the amazing scenery and ancient Incan ruins made it all worth it. We ended our trip with a well-deserved tour of Machu Picchu, and from our very impressive budgeting throughout were able to splurge a little bit on a birthday dinner for Profe. By the end of it we were definitely very tired, however it was a great experience and we would like to thank the teachers that attended and Peter, the World Challenge team leader.
Georgina, Clover and Romy, QASMT students