The summer of 2011, I traveled to Peru in South America. The morning of the departure, it was hot and humid and yet I was headed to Lima, Peru on the first day. I had three things on my mind: whether I would arrive on time, how to adjust to the culture, and how to handle myself being without my parents in another country. This trip meant everything to me. It was not just a journey but an encounter with another culture and world. Once I arrived in Peru, I believed that I had escaped to a world called paradise. I learned many enriching facts about the Peruvian culture. For instance, I learned that the guinea pig is considered a delicacy in certain areas of Peru. Initially, I was timid to partake in this cultural experience of eating a guinea pig but I soon learned that it would have been rude to not at least try this delicacy; for it is hard to serve this food. Besides the food, I learned of the ancient civilization, the Incas, and their impact on the Peruvian land. I discovered that the Incas had cultivated the land and used what they called maize or corn for the harvest and beer. I visited an area of high altitude called Machupichu. They were exciting and jubilant. The women wore bright skirts and dresses that were decorated with flowers and birds. The males wore traditional ponchos, casual pants and many sombreros. During the visit to this town, I took a hike up the surrounding mountain, Waynapichu. This hike was invigorating and it allowed me to think about my life and how I have grown to be the person that I am today. Once I reached the top of Mount Waynapichu, I looked at the beautiful landscape that lay before my eyes. It was mostly fog but I could make out what I saw in between which was a beautiful life ahead of me.
One of the encounters that moved me during my trip occurred when I met two young girls aged 8 and 10, who had no home to go to. During this time I was staying in Cuzco. At first, my mindset was in shock. The girls were outside selling dolls and peddling for money. I walked by them thinking they were just another pair of people who were trying to make a living. Well, these little girls were depending on the people who walked by to support them so they could earn a living. What made me stop was when the little girl started speaking English. She asked me a question. I asked them where their parents were and they stated that they did not know; this startled me. I listened to their story and afterwards, I purchased dolls from them. I realized something very important. I realized that I need to be more appreciative of the things that I belittle in society because it is not “good enough.” From that point, I started thinking, “At least I have this and that.” I saw the overall importance of education. What if the little girl had not spoken to me in English? Would I have stopped? Education is a powerful tool that can carry you afar not only in ones environment, but in the world. One word can fill a child with knowledge. I will never forget those girls and what they gave me. Now when I think of that little girl who spoke English, I think to myself, wow, “This Child Will Be Great” (Ellen Johnson Sirleaf).
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