Part III: Bryan shares his final thoughts on his experience in Peru.

Hi Everyone,
We are excited about our Annual General Meeting happening tomorrow in Waterloo.
Thank you to everyone who has helped make this such a special year!

In addition, I want to share with you the final installment of past participant Bryan.

Bryan thank your for sharing your reflection with the SIA community.

I hope you all enjoy!
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All work and no play make Bryan a dull old guy: Well there was nothing dull about the work in Lima! Teamed with an intermediate teacher in a francophone school, I did work with adult teachers. Paired with a documentary filmmaker from Katelyn-land, her imaginary home inside a home, I laughed with my groups of students. On a visit to el Mirador, a restaurant overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean, I sampled Peruvian specialties. Not to be outdone, the ladies of Pacífico made samples of foods from various regions of Peru – eviche, lemon-dressed raw fish from the sea, pachamanga, the fruits of the earth associated with the inland culture of the Incas, roasted in the ground, and, from south from Cuzco, Asado Arequipeno, roasted meat with bright red tomatoes and a ball of ubiquitous rice on leaves of lettuce. We danced.

During the placements, we learned solidarity with one another and with the Peruvians. During the meals and reflections, we understood how a day in a nursery setting could fill you with joy and weariness at the same time. At day’s end, we were elated and exhausted, when after a full day at an amusement park, some of it in pursuit of three little “Miss Squigelly Wigglies” as they got baptized, we fell into our beds. In Cuzco, the ancient capital of the Inca, I viewed the still solid foundations of the Temple of the Sun, upon which the Spanish had built a church. Subsequent earthquakes shook parts of it off the more stable fourteen-sided interlocking stones of the Inca. It is a lesson in humility for those of us who might think our technology superior, our way of life better, our thoughts somehow more important. Peruvians, despite the little they have, enjoy life, and enjoy watching their North American friends adapt to it.

An anecdote to show how kind the Peruvians are: In a short story in Prairie Fire magazine, a Canadian traveller tells about meeting a stereotypical “ugly American” tourist, yelling in a restaurant at breakfast time for “Eggs, eggs! Doesn’t anyone here speak English”. I tried to engage the Peruvian teachers in a discussion before reading this passage in their afternoon English sections; I thought I could have them tell me why American tourists are unfortunately not always well loved in places around the world. “Oh, no” replied one of the teachers, “even if one was rude, we’d try to help him”. Others nodded assent adding “and if one was really rude, we’d never judge all people by one’s example”. Sighing as that pre-reading strategy, a sure-fire winner in other cultures including our own, went out the window, I realized, I’d been shown a true value of their society: friendship.

Near the end of our stay in Peru we wondered among ourselves if we could sustain the level of excitement, and help Pacífico to finish its nursery project. All said we would find a way. OSSTF members can help too. By visiting the SIA website, http://www.solidarityinaction.ca, you can find more information about how to get yourself invited on similarly inspiring projects in Peru and Ecuador. By donating, OSSTF members can sustain the work. By participating, however, you can learn the famous tooth-brushing song created to teach children in Pacífico about dental hygiene, or make a new one! You can mix cement while mixing with wonderful, grateful and energetic people. You can help people in need, and in an act of selfish altruism, help yourself to broad understandings on a personal leve.

There is much more to Machu Pichu than meets the eye when you view the tourist brochures. But Peru is much much more than Machu Pichu, and, though I dread saying so, after working alongside the people of Pacífico, the fabled ancient monuments will fall away from your memory. Instead, you will experience, over and over in each retelling, the warmth of the people of Peru and the rewards of accomplishment.

During the weekend, Bryan and the other participants were able to experience the beautiful landscape and history Peru has to offer.
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