Ever since I was in elementary school I have always wanted to travel to Peru. Some of my father’s relatives live there and I wanted to experience their culture. Before this trip I had never traveled to a foreign country. I had been to a resort in Mexico but that doesn’t really count.
I currently attend the University of Utah and learned about this week long study abroad program. I am 26 and have too much responsibility to get up and leave for a semester so the week long program sounded like the perfect opportunity! How could I not go?!
For the first few days I was having a little bit of culture shock. Everything looked different, the food tasted different, I had to be careful about what I drank, the drivers were aggressive and most importantly I didn’t speak much Spanish. It made me really think, “I wish I would have paid more attention in Spanish class!” Luckily there were a lot of students in my group that were fluent in Spanish.
The program was titled Poverty & Entrepreneurship. We spent the first part of the semester preparing for this trip by reading two books a week and discussing them in a class of about 10 students. We spoke with the NGO in Cusco and were given a project to work on. We were not given very much information about the business and had to wait until we got to Peru to start brainstorming.
The project I was assigned to was a modeling agency called Modelos E Imagen. The owners needed some help finding a place where they could teach their classes and also marketing via Facebook. We spent the first two days creating content while the owner went around and asked local churches if she could use their space. We even appeared on the local television station!
The other groups were sent to work on other projects. One group worked on a strawberry farm and another worked with women weavers who were trying to sell the experience of what it is like to live in their village and learn about weaving. (Check out their Facebook Page “PV Weavers Association”) If you ever travel to Cusco, I would highly recommend spending the night in this village! It will be an experience you will never forget. Life in the village was very different than how I grew up and it made me appreciate all the luxuries I have been given. Even the simple things like a telephone and clean water.
Thankfully the trip was not just all work. Being the outdoors girl that I am, I was excited to go and explore the Incan ruins. The professors saved the best for last and on one of our last days they took us to Machu Piccu.
Machu Piccu was one of the most breathtaking places I have ever been. I have never felt such a connection to my higher power. Sitting at the top with one of my best friends and new friends that I had grown to love was a very spiritual experience. We talked about what we were grateful for and what we could improve in our lives.
This experience has changed my life forever and I am so grateful for this opportunity. I felt that I have grown as a person and developed skills that I can use throughout my whole life. Thank you University of Utah Business School, Professor Jay Barney, Professor Trish, Teresa Fish, ProPeru, and the other amazing students!