NYU Alternative Breaks: Peru

3 Feb

New BLoGT contributor and kick-ass ally David reports on his Alternative Break to Peru.

My normal winter break consists of returning home to San Diego, California, taking in some nice weather, and being all-around lazy.  It’s great–but one month of it gets to be too much.  So this break I decided to cut it short, opting instead to go on an Alternative Breaks trip to Cusco, Peru.

Our main goal in Peru was to build stoves for one of the indigenous communities just outside of Cusco.  We accomplished that goal, but I think what surprised everybody in our group was just how much we learned not only about the community, but also about ourselves in the process. From riding horses through Incan trails to sudden trips to the emergency room, the trip was a roller-coaster of emotions.  We learned about our group and the people we were helping.

For me, I realized some important things.  We talked many times about what service was to us.  There were many thoughts on giving help to those in need.  I know now that what we get from service is equal, if not greater, in value to what we have actually given.

What I got from this two-week trip was a sense of a community, both their struggles and their joys.  I was immersed in a culture I knew very little about, in a language I could only somewhat speak. And I think that immersion made all the difference in helping me come to a realization: you can study other cultures all you want, but until you are completely immersed, you will never have any real sense of what they are like.

As I left the community the roller-coaster of emotions came back.  I was heartbroken to see the kids running next to our bus, waving goodbye.  I wished I didn’t have to leave my wonderful home stay family, who made me feel like I was their own while I was living with them.  But what brought a smile to my face was watching the kids and seeing the bright, gleaming, wide-eyed smiles on their faces, knowing that we brought some joy to them, and knowing that I would come home and share these wonderful stories with friends, family and all of you on the blog.

I know this isn’t exactly LGBT–related, but I tink this understanding could come in handy for people that may have a difficult time relating with the gay community. It’s a community I have become very close to as an ally, and I only hope that others can bring themselves into a new way of thinking as well. In fact, I just recently interviewed Charles Moran, the National Spokesperson of the Log Cabin Republicans, and one of the points he makes is that the LGBT community is very centralized. Through the same idea of immersion, the gay community can expand and show people why they deserve the same rights as every other person in this country. (I’ll have more on that interview soon.)

I’m sure I’ll relate to this experience in the future on this site, and give updates on various fundraisers we hope to do for the community.  But for now, I hope that you see this and try something new for yourself: a full immersion in something you may not understand.  You may learn something about yourself.


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