When people first hear about the Leading the Way expedition, we experience some very common reactions. “Wow — that’s amazing!” “Can I go?” “How do blind students do that?” “Why would a blind person want to travel all the way to Peru if they can’t even see Machu Picchu?”
From the perspective of Global Explorers, in many ways this experience is not all that different from our program offerings for 100% able-bodied students. We continue with our basic premise: few things can have a greater impact on a student’s life than an international immersion experience. Whether blind or sighted, having a Global Explorers-type experience at a young age opens students’ minds to a world of possibilities.
By seeing, touching, tasting and feeling the culture and history of the Cuzco region, we hope to inspire these students to understand and appreciate the diversity of the world around them. By physically pushing them to their limits along the trail and by teaching them leadership concepts along the way, we hope to provide them with a sense of accomplishment, an increased level of self-confidence and a deeper appreciation of what it means to be a good leader.
The fact of the students’ blindness, of course, sparks interest and thereby opens the door for us to teach others through this experience. Thus, we hope to break down barriers, misconceptions and prejudices that the public has about blind people. As stated by the National Federation for the Blind of Colorado, “the real problem of blindness is not the lack of eyesight. The real problem is the misunderstanding and lack of information which exist.”
We look at all of the students on this trip first and foremost as students. Not blind or sighted. Not black or white. Simply students—eager to learn and experience. Each brings a unique set of perspectives, experiences and challenges from which we all can learn.
In the end, we hope to inspire a future generation of leaders who appreciate, respect and cherish the differences between all of us, whether cultural or physical. Please join us and learn more by visiting the following links: