Why it’s hard to say goodbye

Inspired by the wonderful blog maintained by SIA blogger extraordinaire, Rachel Shuttleworth and in an attempt to capture my final two weeks in South America I have decided to keep a blog. I hope that you will join me as I accompany Doctor Kathryn (As personal tour guide and translator) as she visits schools in around Chorrillos, speaking to directors and leading education conferences. During our time we will visit the magnificent Nasca Lines and other cultural sites within Lima, all while we consider what makes Peru tick and pondering the important question, how it is that groups brought  together through solidarity can change the world?

We begin just as the final 2011 SIA program comes to an end. When the participants bid their farewells and headed back to Canada.

Watching the participants struggle to withhold the emotions they felt saying goodbye to the community and saying goodbye to one another left me to consider what causes such behaviour. In two short weeks, strangers were brought together and shared such amazing experiences that they did not want to see come to an end. However, as the participants return home they have to say goodbye to their close friends from Peru and Canada. They return home shaped by their experience, excited about the experience, but aware that they will never have the same outlook as they had when they left for Peru. What was it about the experience that allowed them to have a life altering experience? Also what experiences can be easily transferred into the Canadian culture. It reminds me of the first time that I returned from a solidarity program. I had an amazing experience, but once at home I struggled to transfer the experience that I had in Peru into the Canadian culture. My first two posts will focus exactly on this question, what happens during and SIA program that brings people together in a short period of time and how can that be transferred to back to Canada?

Throughout the past two weeks, the importance of relationships continued to resurface throughout our discussions. The participants and the community continued to refer to the relationships that they had created. As the Canadians said goodbye to their new found Peruvian friends and their fellow Canadian participants, it was clear that once again relationships played an integral role in the program. It leads me to wonder, how did these relationships evolve? The Peruvian people are very welcoming culture and invite people to interact with them. This may partly explain how such an experience developed. However, I also witnessed the same response in Ecuador and the Dominican Republic and therefore it also does not explain why the Canadian participants interacted so well with these cultures. It also does not illustrate how the Canadian participants created a strong bond. As I began to consider what took place and what could be transferred I was reminded of a series of stories. These stories may help me gain a greater understanding of the power of volunteering and the power of solidarity. The examples took place during our latest program to Peru. They highlight an important fact, that the importance is what you can give, rather than what you receive; about giving to another person without expecting to receive anything.

Stay with me as we investigate two stories that may help us gain a better understanding of what took place during the program.

L Shuttleworth

(please read the upcoming post)

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