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Peru International Study Tour

 
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Almost two years ago, I was sitting in the QACI theatre, listening to a speaker from Camps Internationals advertise an international trip to Peru, South America. I was star-struck by the idea of travelling on my own, especially to Peru. I went home that afternoon and proposed the idea of going on the trip to my parents. They encouraged it, and loved the idea of me travelling to a place where I could become immersed in a different culture, as well as practice the skills I had learned via Spanish studies at school. They seemed very excited for me, and unexpectedly, a little jealous.

A few weeks after that, my family and I were sitting in an information night about the trip, with fundraising for the trip commencing soon afterwards. A year and six months later, it was 5am and I was standing at the Brisbane Airport waving goodbye to the families bidding farewell to their children who were ‘leaving the nest’, as my teary mother phrased it. After a long journey, we finally arrived to Cusco Peru, where we stayed for the night, before heading off to our first campsite, Lake Titicaca.

Upon our arrival at Lake Titicaca, which was at an altitude of 3,810 metres, we were greeted by the Camps International Manager, as well as a group of very kind locals. They introduced themselves, of course in Spanish and performed a traditional welcome dance. We settled in to camp, feeling exhausted after our travels, and was then briefed on our project work that we would be completing over the next two weeks. Our goal for the week in Camp Titicaca, was to complete work around the local school, which was very much in need of some new facilities such as toilet blocks, classrooms, fences and much more. As a team, we spent the week working hard on completing the tasks, as well as spending time with the children at the school - of course all the while practicing our Spanish skills. Personally, I found working at the site incredibly rewarding. I loved meeting the children around the school, bonding with the rest of my travel team, and seeing the difference we had made to the lives of the locals. I found I had slipped into a routine that made me feel productive, immersed and happy. Sadly, all good things must come to an end. Before I knew it, we were packed, getting on the bus, saying farewell to the locals and the camp manager and on our way to our second location; Camp Moray.

After a long eight-hour bus journey, we arrived at Camp Moray – a mere 50km from Cusco. We were again, greeted by a much larger group of friendly locals with a beautiful song and dance. Our project work at this site had a different focus and rather than individual tasks that smaller groups amongst the team had to complete, the entire “Team Llama” was working around a community house that needed a concrete footpath. I found myself feeling that same rewarding sense of fulfilment that I felt at Titicaca. It felt good to make a contribution to a community as a whole and help where I could. I felt grateful for being given the opportunity to experience a world that I had never seen before.

In the last week of our journey, we left the village camps and embarked on a five day trek through The Salcantay Trail, finishing at the top of Machu Picchu. This trek was probably the most challenging thing I have ever done. Every single day was different; a different landscape, different weather, different challenges and of course, different rewards. At times, I felt defeated and I began to question whether I could complete each day. However, with some amazing encouragement from my team, positive self-talk, the reward of seeing Machu Picchu at sunrise, pushed me through. We all got there in the end! Seeing the Inka Ruins was an amazing experience. I learned so much about their innovative and forward-thinking ways of life. I’m sure I will carry that experience with me for the rest of my life.

Overall, I could not have completed this spectacular trip without my team, the Camps International staff, and the amazing teachers who joined us. I am so grateful for this once in a life-time opportunity, and strongly encourage anyone else in the QACI community who is given the same opportunity, to take it, and enjoy it.

...article written by Yasmin Sultana, Year 12

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Last reviewed 10 February 2020
Last updated 10 February 2020