Sunday, July 10, 2011

Flight on time

Hello parents,
Wanted to confirm that AA 3507 is scheduled to arrive slightly late at 11:22 p.m. in Nashville. Welcome home!

Flight Home

Hello parents,
The students flight from Lima-Miami (LAN 2510) left about 20 minutes late and will get into Miami right before 8 p .m., which gives them 2 hours to make their connection onto Nashville via American flight 3507. You can check flight status for 3507 here They are almost home after a very succesful program. Thanks Ensworth! Ross Wehner

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Last Day in Peru

Today was our first and final day in Cusco. As a pleasant change we got to sleep in until 10:00 am. After meeting in the morning, we were given free time until 4:30. Most of us wandered through the city and explored the markets. Many of us finished shopping for gifts and ate some good food. Cusco is filled with spanish influence, cobblestone streets, and cathedrals. When we met in the afternoon we had a "ceremony" to complete WLS experience. We each got to acknowledge someone and give them a finger puppet. Then we all piled into a bedroom and said our favorite memories from the trip. Afterwards we went  to dinner at a place called Greens, a restaurant that serves all organic food. Carol, Steele, Margaret, and McCall were brave enough to swallow a very spicy pepper, and now are regretting their decision. After dinner we were entertained by Jorge and his magic tricks. It has been a great trip and are excited to see our families.

Rajiv and Catherine B.

Machu Picchu

Hello from Bella and Steele. Today we traveled to Machu Picchu and had a wonderful day exploring the Incan ruins. The weather was better than expected and sunny. We got there by an hour and a half train ride that took us through Piscacucho and a nerve-racking bus ride to the top. While it was crowded, we had an interesting tour about the Incan ruins from our tour guide Manual. Enjoying the weather, we had some time to ourselves to focus on our speeches, which we based off of coming back to Ensworth’s graduation in the year 2050 to talk about what we have done. When we were done writing them, we each got time to record them privately. After that, we got some time to explore on our own. During this time, we came across multiple alpacas and their babies. On our way back, we had an interesting train ride. Some students were sleeping when a clown in a traditional dance costume, complete with a black mask, came out and started dancing. When the clown left and we finally got comfortable again, techno music started and the train attendants turned into models and modeled the train’s fashion line. When we got back to Ollaytambo, we had a great dinner and are now heading to our hotel in Cuzco, where they are celebrating the 100 years of Machu Picchu with fireworks. We can’t wait to see everyone in just two days. Love you all and finally can’t wait to see you soon.
Bella Sohr and Steele McDonald

Friday, July 8, 2011

11 Days and 2 to Go - Rafting in Peru

After waking up particularly early (pleasantly not to the sound of roosters at 3 AM), we ate the usual traditional Peruvian breakfast at Las Orchidias Hotel and then headed out. We travelled 20 minutes in vans to Urubamba River (the rafting site); here, we put on our cat-woman wetsuits and were tormented by our peers' jests and later by the freezing waters of the Class 3 rapids. Just so you get the point of the temperature - we were rafting alongside snow covered mountains. Although most people were having issues distinguishing their lefts from their rights (due to freezing bodies or maybe they did not listen when the guides were explaining paddling commands....eep), we definitely had so much fun that the freezing water collecting in our wetsuits began to add to the overall positive attitude of the group instead of bringing us down. At regular intervals, our guide would let us "relax", and we would pretty much just take a nap while hanging off the edge of the raft. Another often mentioned command would be "war music", which meant hit the raft to the beat of We Will Rock You then destroy opposing rafts filled innocents (splash wars just to clarify). About halfway into our 2 hour rafting adventure, our guide pulled us over to pick some wheat plants to put into our helmets like Native American feathers; this certainly added to our raft's intimidation factor. After we finished our rafting trip and were beginning to struggle to get out of our rafts and wetsuits, one of the guides asked if anyone wanted to jump off of the bridge. Half kidding and being the absolute psychopathic person that I (Alanna) tend to be, I consented. Cayce and Blaire also joined in this terrifyingly fun activity. (For the record, when he said, "Okay, jump on 3", I said, "No...", but that didn't mean he couldn't push us in.) Meanwhile, the rest of us were catching up on some sun and enjoying a lunch consisting of pasta salad, avocados, cucumbers, tomatoes, bread, and tea. After most of us passed out in the grass for a nice nap, we headed back to Ollantay for the rest of the afternoon/evening. Hot chocolate and brownies at the Hearts Cafe plus a little shopping were nice finishing touches to a great day.

Love, Lauren B. and Alanna

P.S. Hola to Mom, Dad, Brett, Gramps, Mittens, and Daisy! I miss you all and can't wait to tell you all about this amazing trip! Love you and see you Sunday : )

P. P. S. Hey Mom, Dad, Rachael, and Mike:) I'm having a great time here, and I haven't had any injuries resulting in lack of communication skills no worries - Love you all and see you soon!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Goodbye to the Home Stays:(

So today we had some strong emotions as we had to say our final goodbyes to our home stay families in Piscacucho. We arrived at the school at 9:00am with all of our stuff packed and ready to go. Then we did our routine "circle up" and group activity which involved us building a Utopian (perfect) society. It was really interesting to see the different personalities expressed in each group. After this we watched the kids perform some traditional and crazy farewell dances for us. The funniest had to be the six guys that were "hip hopping it up" for the entire song. It was tasteful. We then got the pleasure to join in their dancing and that created even stronger ties with the community before we had to leave. While waiting for the celebration we got to play soccer and have great bonding time with our home stay kids and the local kids as well. Pachamanca, meaning food from the earth, was the name of the celebration we had at the end of our stay. We experienced a man digging up a large sack of potatoes, peruvian sweet potatoes, and various meats that had been cooking under the ground. We then learned that the food had been cooked with hot coals and the sun and had been roasting under ground for a period of time. We ate a ton and had a blast. It was surprising how much food was set out for us to eat such as guinea pig, a whole chicken thigh, and pork. It was the best chicken I have ever tasted (sorry Dad). Leaving the celebration brought about various emotions from each of the students and their families. It was heartbreaking to see poor Franco (Blaire's brother) bawling and Florenciana (Carol's Mom) tearing up. The moment was very bitter sweet as the bus drove away and we all waved farewell. The rest of the day was spent in Ollantaytambo shopping, eating, and resting (well kinda). We are psyched to go rafting this morning!!!!!!!!!! Until next time Tennessee!

We are all missing our families right now and we can't wait to see all of your beautiful faces when we get back on Sunday. We have plenty of gifts from Peru that we hope you all like! WE LOVE YOU!!!!!

And no more letting Bailey write on my walls..... Much appreciated.

Love Always~ Carol Allen and Blaire Smith:)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Longest Hike in the World- From Ollantaytambo to Pumamarca

Hi there, it's Lizzy and Margaret. Today was beautiful. We started off the day around 9:00, with breakfast and cleaning up our rooms. Soon after, the group met up with Elder, the man who guided us on a breathtaking hike through the Incan trails. Along the way, there were a few tears, sweats, and a little blood, but by the time we arrived at the top of the Incan ruins, it was all worth it. By then, the injuries and fears had completely disintegrated and were instead replaced. The beauty of the surrounding mountains and the beaten down ruins engulfed us completely. We had time there to relax, eat lunch, and explore. There were many great group pictures, for those who made it to the top. We took the Incan trail back down which was much faster than the 2 hour hike that we had taken to the top. Tonight we're finishing up our stay in Ollantaytambo, having an early dinner. Later, we are headed back to Piscocucho for our last night with our homestay families.

We miss you Matt and Mr. Berry - there's always a spot at the back of the bus in the bro row and a place in the bro pictures. Matt, get well soon.

Shout out to Leah and the recovering Jim Sohr- Bella loves you.

And to all the other parents, we'll see you in 5 days!

Xoxo Lizzy Allen and Margaret Andrews

Happy and Healthy Kids!

Hello Ensworth Parents!

A few parents have called in with questions about the student that had to go home. First let me assure you all that all the other students are in good health. If any of the students become sick or get injured (even if it is minor), and need to go to a clinic, we will be in touch with you directly.

This last weekend we brought Matt Peacock home. He had a throat infection before he left for Peru and it just got worse while there. His parents, WLS staff, and the doctors he saw in Peru all agreed that it would be best for him to return home and get better. He was very brave but really did not feel well, and he also agreed he should come home. He returned safely home on Sunday and I spoke to his mother this morning who said that he is still recovering, but feeling much better. 

Please feel free to contact us if you have any further questions or concerns, and keep checking the blog for more updates from the field!

Lizzy Leighty
Program Coordinator
World Leadership School

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July!

Happy fourth everyone! This is Hannah and Katherine C. saying hey from Peru!
There's been a lot of rain here in Piscacucho, making it hard to work but letting us build bonds with awesome people. We have been able to play with the children in the school and get to know our host families better. As a group, we have been determining our leadership styles (Katherine is an idealist, and Hannah is a mix of different styles), and also learning about Andean culture. We got to enjoy a morning off to hang out with our families and then spent the rest of the day hiking. Today, we had our own fourth of July celebration in Ollantaytambo - sauna, hot showers, lunch, dinner, s'mores, and fireworks included.

Hannah: Hi there! So far, Peru has been a blast! I am rooming with Carol and Lauren Barnett and our host family is awesome. Our mom is a little reserved, but extremely nice (she boiled us water so we could wash our hair!). We have two brothers who are 25 and 15, and love to play Uno with us after dinner. Completing the family is a dad who is definitely a talker and extremely interesting. I have learned so much from the way that they live and get along together. This experience has been completely eye-opening for me. Today was a great break, because we got a nice, hot shower and some different food. I can't wait to go to bed tonight and not wake up at 5am with 5 roosters outside of my window. I hope that everyone is doing great back home.. Mom & Dad I love you and miss you! See ya'll soon! Love, Hannah

Katherine: My host family's house is definitely a hike to get to, but it's worth it. I'm rooming with Bella and Lizzy, and we definitely love our family. Our grandmother picked us up from the school on the first day, and she's been so sweet and doesn't even mind whenever I mess up trying to speak Spanish (the whole family makes a joke about the way I keep saying "esta bien, esta bien"). We also have a mother, two daughters, and their cousin Marco came to visit us last week - he's 5 years old and absolutely adorable. I wasn't feeling very well for the last few days and had to skip the group activities, but the whole family pitched in and kept me fed and kept me company until I felt like myself again. Piscacucho is definitely gorgeous, but it was nice to come back to Ollantaytambo today for our first shower in 8 days and our first (sort of) American meal. And it was so sweet of the teachers to arrange for us to celebrate tonight with a special dinner out followed by a bonfire with smores! I hope everyone else had a great 4th of July celebration too. To my parents and definitely everyone else back home in Tennessee, I love you and miss you and can't wait to see you all again in 6 days! Much love, Kat

P.S. Blaire sends a shout out to her family and Cayce sends another shout out to the Raby family

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Crafts, Kids, and Clinics.

Hello all, this is Rob Herring here.  Yesterday morning, I along with Matt, Katherine B, Steele, McCall, and Rachel made traditional baskets. We divided the EHS group in to four smaller groups and yesterday morning was our turn.  It was a very humbling experience!  What our instructors, Sergio and Pancho, could do in 30 minutes took us over 3 hours.  With their expert help, everyone was able to complete a basket so we should all be bringing home some great presents!  The rain continues here and I have learned that it has rained like this only twice in the last 30 years.  Our work outside has been somewhat limited but the relationships formed from the time spent in the classroom are growing stronger as we continue to work with the kids in their classes. 

Unfortunately, yesterday also saw several students fall ill.  Most are feeling better today but one student unfortunately had to be taken to the hospital in Cusco for further observation for an illness that has worsened.  Our guides, Susan and Jorge, as well as our local contact, Adela, have been a huge help with this.  They are true professionals whose first interest lies in the well being of our students. We could not have more responsible and caring people looking after us!

As we near the halfway point, our thoughts are with our friends in Cusco, but we remain in good spirits.  Hopefully the rain will break soon!
Adios, Rob
P.S. A special hello to my wife Sarah and 7 month old son Robert at home.  Love you guys!

Hey guys, this is Cayce Sweat. Even though the rain continues, it is hard to not be in a positive mood. The children in Piscacucho are always smiling and wanting to play no matter how cold or rainy it is. The mood of the children is very contagious to everyone on this trip. Yesterday, we were hoping to do some planting at the school. Unfortunately the rain prevented this, but we came up with a great alternate plan. Many of us spent the morning in the classrooms with the children. Hannah Cooper, Katherine Cochrane, and I were in a classroom together. We helped the children with their english in areas such as colors and counting. It took some time, but the children were determined to learn and they worked very hard. At the end of our time with them, we took turns singing our favorite songs to the class. As soon as the teacher said it was time for break, we found ourselves splashing around outside with the children. Even though it can be hard to understand the children in the classroom, there is definitely no language barrier when they want to play.

Unfortunately, this is all I have to blog about our day in Piscaucho. I do know that for the second half of the day, students were told to stay in their houses so they would not get sick from the rain. My second half of the day was spent on an adventure to the clinic in town. It was just for a spider bite, but we wanted to make sure that it was nothing too serious. We ended up staying at the clinic so late, that we stayed the night in town. But, on the bright side, we got to take showers!

Although the showers were great, we are looking forward to seeing our families later today!
Adios, Cayce
P.S. Hi Mom, and hi to the Raby family!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Day 4: First Day of Service Learning Work

Yesterday was our first day of service. Because it was raining in the morning we could not work outside. Therefore some groups were in classrooms with the kids, while others set up computers in the media room last year’s group painted. Also the first group of student got to weave baskets with the local weaver. After the rained stopped we were able to work outside. We spent the remainder of the morning weeding the garden in the courtyard and filling in a ditch where a pipe had recently been laid. After working we returned to our homes for lunch with our families. When we meet back up for the afternoon it had begun to rain again and we were not able to work. We spent the afternoon playing games Susan taught us. At 4:30 we got our cultural enrichment, we participated in a ceremony by the local Shaman. The ceremony was a sacrifice to the mountains to protect us, the “eagle” travelers. The ceremony took a few hours but we all learned a lot about their traditions that mix ancient Inca tradition and Catholicism.  After we buried the sacrifice we all returned to our homes for dinner and bed. – Lauren E. and John C.

The last four days have been incredible. Yesterday was our first work experience with the school and the children. I was assigned to computer duty in which we basically went and set up about 10 computers for the children. Although they don’t have Internet, kids still poured in to play the games that were already programmed in. Thinking I would go ahead and take a break, I headed outside where the kids were playing. I was completely wrong, the second I left the room I was attacked by about 7 kids yelling “Amigo! Amigo! Amigo!” begging me to throw them up in the air and swing them around by their arms. Within about ten minutes of throwing them around I was completely dead and could barely walk back to the computer room. The excitement on these kids’ faces is an expression I honestly have never seen before. The first day when we saw them they lined up at the door to say hello to us and every night we have a couple of kids that stick around to lead us back to our homes. For our homestay families, Mccall and I have one of the best families to stay with, even though the walk from the school to the house is 20 minutes. The first day we had an interesting meal, which we still have no idea what we ate, but we somehow managed to get it down without getting sick. Definitely missing mom’s cooking. Our homestay mother is a really nice lady; she cooks each of our meals and always lets us rest after work. We still haven’t met two of the children because they are in highschool in a different town, but there are two little girls who are 8 and 11 and I didn’t think it was possible to see someone so excited to see us. The first day we took a hike and our little sister Linda who is 8 (her birthday was yesterday) wouldn’t let go of my hand even while we were hiking up the mountain. The other girl is really nice and always wakes us up and waves when we’re in our rooms. The rooms are surprisingly nice, we have two beds on the top floor of the house that is made of wood, dirt, brick, and clay. Every morning we have to wash our hair in the freezing cold hose which gives us a nice brain freeze. Yesterday we had a tribal Shaman come and talk to us, some of the things he said were pretty interesting, like how we had 11 ounces of earth in our body and volcanoes too. He stated that we didn’t really know how to read, so when he went around and asked us if we could really read I told him I could, he laid out some leaves on a paper and told me to read it as he called me up to the front, of course I couldn’t read it, but I don’t believe he could either to be honest. The view we have of the mountains and everything is too beautiful for words, I can’t really describe it but it honestly is the best experience I’ve had in my life. To Mom and Dad, I miss you guys tons and I cant wait to see you when I get back; hope you aren’t getting too lonely. --John Clifton

It is hard to believe that yesterday was only the 4th day. We have already seen and experienced so much; each day seems like three, not in a bad way though. Rachel, Alanna, and I have the nicest family. The mom is quiet but so sweet; she still won’t let us help with cooking or cleaning, which makes me feel so bad. We have two brothers: Abel, who is 10, and Grec, who is 5. They really treat us like sisters and it is so sweet. Abel even came and got us and waited for an hour after the Shaman last night because he didn’t want us to walk home alone, even though we would have been totally fine. Our room is above the family’s room; it is very spacious and fits three beds easily. On the first floor is the family’s room and the kitchen, all doors opening to the outside. We like to think that the family dog sleeps outside our door because it wants to protect us. Really it is probably the only spot where it is dry on the floor and not getting rained on. It has been raining on and off for the past couple of days, always raining throughout the night. Our family says this is very rare, especially for this time of year. With that, they keep telling us about a flood a few years ago that flooded the valley. We try to say the same happened to us, but it often gets lost in translation. Because of the rain, Jorge and Susan said we would not be able to go on the overnight camping hike on the third of July because it will be too dangerous. Rachel and I were especially disappointed to hear this because we really have been looking forward to it. We know that WLS stresses the aspect of being “flexible,” so we will not complain. This was what we were most excited for because we love camping, but as long as we still get to go to Machu Picchu, everyone will be pleased. Even just when we hiked the Inca ruins near Ollantaytanbo it was so cool. We were sitting in ancient ruins looking at this amazing view. I am obsessed with the mountains and the landscape here; I cannot express how beautiful it all is. The Andes are so different from the Smokies; even the Rockies do not even compare because they have a very different beauty. It may just be me because I have always loved mountains, but I do think everyone feels better when they wake up and look at the mountains surrounding them. Mom, Dad, Cate and Carrie- I miss y’all so much and hope you all are having so much fun without me! You better take me back. Tell Pom Pom and Grandaddy and everyone you are with hello and I miss them. I got an Inca cross for my necklace and please try to find me a small protection charm from your trip to bring me. Thanks! I love you so much. See you soon! P.S. still getting grammar lessons in Peru from Mr. Berry.
Love, Lauren Elcan

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Day 3: La Fiesta en Ollantaytambo (by McCall Shipp & Rachel Oldham)

Yesterday the group went back into the town of Ollantaytambo where we had previously stayed. We went to celebrate a festival that honored the sun god and the day the Incans reclaimed power. The group was free to roam the small town, and climb some of the Incan ruins. We returned to the school and participated in personality tests as our last group activity of the day.

McCall: Yesterday was the best day so far for me, started off the day at 6:30 after being awoken by the 7 roosters right outside of me and johns room.  Our Peruvian mother made us breakfast and lunch before we left for our trip to Ollantaytambo.  The family we are staying with has 3 daughters, 8, 11, and 13 and one son who is turning 16 tomorrow.  We have yet to see the 16 year old son and 13 year old daughter, but the mother father and two younger girls have been unbelievably kind to us since we arrived.  Not knowing any Spanish hasn’t been a huge struggle but I have learned enough to partially communicate with people here.  The meals we have eaten have been good for the most part.  The first day here we had one of the worst meals I have ever eaten, John and I still aren’t quite sure what it was but after eating a massive bowl of it we proceeded to tell our Peruvian mother how great it was.  The dinner that night was incredible, we had rice potato and eggs. Each morning for breakfast we have a different type of tea and bread with butter and jelly.  The town we are staying in is beautiful; there are huge mountains on all sides, some snow covered, and others completely green with tons of trees. Where me and john are staying is not only the farthest house away from the town but its a 20 minute hike from the school where we were dropped off.  Our house is at the bottom of a mountain overlooking the whole town.  Right when we arrived John and I were taken on a hike by our host family up to one of the ridges on the mountain where we helped them pick carrots from a carrot farm they had.  The view from the ridge was incredible and we later climbed up too Incan ruins on another mountain in the village.  Now to my experience yesterday in ollantaytambo.  We arrived there around 10 and immediately set off with the 5 bros to the huge market where we could just about buy anything for fewer than 10 American dollars.  This town has tons and tons of shops and markets and incredible food.  I’m writing far too much so I’m just going to talk about what really has impacted me on this trip.  In the town there were Incan ruins all over the mountains sitting far above the town. At the end of the day a group of us hiked up to a group of ruins and me and matt peacock kept climbing until we reached a ruin that obviously wasn’t visited frequently because it was a very difficult hike.  Not only was the view from up there the most beautiful thing I had ever seen but I discovered that I loved hiking and climbing, so me and matt continued climbing any climbable ruin or mountain we came across, making it maybe the greatest experience of my life.  This trip has been completely life changing in so many ways and I have loved every second of it, I have far more to say but I will try to explain more next time I write on this blog. Love all yaw tell Sara n’ Sam I said hey cant wait 2 c u.

Rachel: Where to start… So far this trip has been unbelievable. It’s so unlike anything I’ve ever experienced or could ever imagine experiencing. The personalities surrounding me, whether it be my friends from school or the natives, are more than wonderful and I couldn’t ask for much more. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to connect with my family and that I’d get frustrated with my friends, but I have yet to have those feelings. We had a bit of a change in the roommates and now I have both Alanna and Lauren in my house with me. Heck yes. My family consists of Rosemary (my new mother), the father (I have no idea what his name is), Abelle (the ten year old son), and Grek (the five year old son). The two boys were thrilled when we brought out their presents. They jumped up and down and screamed for about ten minutes without pause. Their favorites were the bubbles. The house is two stories with a kitchen and the family bedroom on the bottom and our room on the top. The view from our balcony is possibly the most beautiful thing in the world. We’re in a small valley surrounded by mountains, some of which are covered in snow and others are completely green. (Mark and Sharon) You’d love this place. Yesterday was definitely the best day so far. We went back into the town (side note: the hotel we stayed in for the first night was the most gorgeous place ive ever stayed. It was two stories with a courtyard in the middle and the mountains all around.) to celebrate a festival, but really we just spent the day exploring. The market is filled with tons of little stores where you can buy just about anything. I’ve gotten little gifts for the whole family, and I’ve gotten myself a few things too. Carolyn and I ate lunch in a small pizza place and I’m pretty sure I’ve never tasted anything better. After lunch Lauren, Carol, Matt, Mccall, and I hiked up to the top of some Incan ruins where you could look down upon the valley. I took plenty of pictures, no worries. We get to go back near the end of the trip and we’re going to climb even higher. I’m so looking forward to the long hike we take on Saturday and the night we stay in the mountain. I’m guessing that will be the best part of the trip. We don’t get to river raft until later because the schedule got all changed around, but I’m sure that will be another one of my favorites. I’m being told that I need to be finishing up this blog, but it’s not my fault because Mccall spent seriously an hour on his. Anyway, I’m very very very happy and my parents will be glad to know that my house is mostly vegetarian; therefore I’m eating my fair share of meals.
 A couple of side notes:
The roosters make their call starting around 3am and at the top of every hour from then on are dead set on making our sleeping habbits hell.
It’s usually only rains in the summer here, but it’s currently down pouring and the village is in distress.
Two kids are sitting next to me right now watching me type this, but have no idea what I’m writing.
I’m catching on to the language, but its incredibly frustrating to not be able to communicate too well.
I have to go, but (to my family) I love you and I miss you and I hope you know I’m having an amazing time. I can’t wait to get home and show you all the pictures and tell all my stories. (mom and dad) Once houston and I are out of the house and you guys start planning all those insane trips you talk about, I’d highly recommend Peru.

Love to all!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Day 2- Meeting our homestay families

Today's blog entries are from Matt Peacock and Carolyn Cooper

Yesterday we arrived at the village and began to get settled into the society for the first time. Before we met our families, we went to the school and talked to and played with the children for a few minutes. It was a very humbling experience and it meant a lot to all of us. The families were extremely excited to meet us before they even knew who we were. They were very gracious with food and accommodations. The kids got very excited even with the smallest of gifts such as a bouncy ball or t-shirt. After we all met the families, at lunch, and got settled into our homes, we went on a hike up the mountain. It was possibly the prettiest thing we've ever seen and I don't think any of us will forget the view for a long time. The kids in our houses came on the hike with us, no matter how young, and it was so fun bonding with them while hiking up such an incredible piece of land. They constantly went out of there way to make sure we were comfortable and full. The meals have been amazing both in taste and their ability to make so much out of so little. I have yet to see someone in our town that has not been smiling. Even though we are supposed to be the ones here to help them, I feel that they are giving us more than we could ever give them. There is no other way to see how some people can be so happy with so little besides actually staying with that family.

This is Carolyn:
My family has a mother and two little boys, one is five and one is six, and they are two of the cutest children I have ever seen. Our mother does so much to make sure we are happy and comfortable, and it is truly the best feeling in the world. The older boy, Franco, loves to come to our room and sit and play with us. His laughter is contagious and just being in the room with him lights up all of our faces. He has already been able to touch me more than I ever thought a child could. Margaret gave our mother pretty orange shoes as a gift for letting us stay in her home, and when we went on the hike later that day, she was wearing the shoes Margaret gave her. That simple gesture made Margaret's day and she could not stop smiling. I love staying with them so much more than I was expecting, and even though my spanish is not perfect, we are able to communicate really well and it is not hard to keep up conversations.

Hola, I am living with a family that has an eight and ten year-old boy as well as a fifteen year old girl. The family is extremely caring and the boys will not leave our side. I am rooming with Rajiv and Steele. Between the three of us we probably brought 20 different balls for the kids to play with. Their other favorite gift was the card game UNO. Teaching them how to play was a fun experience with each of us Americans interjecting our Spanish words of wisdom on how to play the game correctly. After just two games they knew how to play just as well as us. By their demand we have also taught them how to count to 30 in english as well as the names of random animals we pass on the farm. The mother keeps us full and goes out of her way to make us happy. This family works very hard as well. I woke up to the sounds of the boys playing UNO on the kitchen table and soon found myself carrying a propane tank and potatoes across the farm. It has been a very enlightening as well as fun experience so far.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Day 1 - Ollantaytambo

Well, we are nearing the end of our first day. Other than in-flight naps, we have not slept since saying good-bye to you all at the airport yesterday. Despite being tired, we are in great spirits. Our hotel is beautiful. The rooms are comfortable, and there is a beautiful central courtyard draped in flowers. We just returned from dinner, our second sit-down meal in Peru. Our lunch was delicious: chicken and rice with fresh vegetables, and the best vegetable soup that most of us have had in a while. Dinner was at a pizza place just down the road from our hotel.

Ollantaytambo is a lovely village. We explored the town in groups during a competitive scavenger hunt, and our kids were fearless in their interaction with the local shop owners and towns people.  We have some impressive Spanish speakers here!

This first entry wouldn't be complete without mentioning the mountains. Our two-hour bus drive from the airport to Ollantaytambo was extended as we stopped to enjoy the amazing views surrounding us. The mountains are striking, looming above us on all sides. Their natural beauty is accented by the tiered ruins of ancient Incan terraces. In a slight change of plans, we will be hiking these mountains tomorrow, and we are very much looking forward to it.

Finally, we have to mention our new friends, Susan and Jorge, from the World Leadership School (WLS). They have not only made us feel welcome and safe, but also encouraged and empowered. We are already on our way to becoming a family.

We miss you.  And we love you all.  Talk to y'all again tomorrow. . .

Sorry for the lack of pictures. The internet connection is very slow right now. We will have to upload photos later.

Students are in Peru!

Hello everyone! I wanted to let everyone know that the students have arrived in Cusco, Peru. They are happy and healthy and are making their way to Ollantaytambo. They will be updating the blog later today.

Erin Lasky
Program Director