June 14, 2006

Day 5: Chilipahua

Today students visited the community of Chilipahua where they conducted a community service project side-by-side with local residents.

Live field report

Day 5 // June 15 // Alysha Jeans

I woke up this morning to the sound of children laughing and screaming as they played outside my tent. We camped on the soccer field of the school we would soon be painting, and the children had arrived for the day. Our guide Julio, told us that some of the children had to walk as far as three hours to reach school because the Peruvian government provides very limited support to education. After breakfast, we all migrated to the school yard where introductions were to take place. The Peruvians went first. They welcomed us to their community and each student introduced him of herself to us. Then it was our turn. We thanked them for inviting us to help paint their school and introduced ourselves. We had a wonderful time showing them the Hoky Poky, playing Simon Says in Spanish, and asking the kids questions about their favorite foods, classes, sports, and more. Many of the children spoke limited Spanish. Their first language was Quehua.

For the rest of the morning we painted the school along with the children. Sometimes I was afraid I was doing more harm than good with my attempts to paint the walls of the building, but it was still a blast. Almost everyone was covered in blue paint when we had finished. We had the brilliant idea of washing off the paint in the river near the campsite. I must say that was the coldest shower I’ve ever had! For lunch, the community prepared a special traditional food called Pacha Manca. It consited of lamb and potatoes cooked in a hand-built oven made of stones and bricks, covered by straw, cardboard, plastic, and dirt. We all sat in a giant circle and ate the wonderful dish. After lunch, our group played an enthusiastic game of soccer with the children with the soccer balls we had bought as gifts for the community.

Our goodbyes consisted of renditions of both the Peruvian and American national anthems, thanks from both groups, a wheel-barrow competition that I lost miserably, and a presentation of the various gifts we had brought for the community. After a wonderful dinner, we listened to Jeff Evens tell us stories of his adventures in climbing various mountains and discussed the characteristics of a quality service project. I think every one of us had a blast in the community of Chillipahua and are ready to do anything we can to help support the education system in Peru. Even though I speak extremely little Spanish and no Quechua, I felt I will never forget the children of Chillipahua laughing and playing soccer, teaching me how to count to ten in Quechua, and welcoming us to their school.

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