By MEGHAN HOLLAND, Staff Reporter |
Amarillo College’s Presidential Scholars have returned from their 11-day service learning trip to Peru and many describe the experience as life-changing.
“The students were challenged many times, whether it was hiking the Inca trail or working really hard physically on those adobe fences, they really went above and beyond what I would have thought was acceptable,” Lesley Ingham, honors program co-coordinator and speech instructor, said.
The 13 travelers worked with Peru’s Challenge, an organization for developing sustainable communities, in the village of Quillohuota. They also visited Lima, Ollantaytambo, Cusco and Machu Picchu.
The students spent three days helping rebuild facilities at a school in a small village. “We worked so hard and it was such a surprise to me that we were extending and enhancing an adobe fence,” Ingham said. “We pushed ourselves physically, more than I imagined that we would, and then I really loved our soccer game after we had our workday. I loved having little kids from the community play with us; I loved having our workers with us and I thought that it was just a really neat, authentic Peruvian thing to do.”
Madeline Filsouf, a psychology major, said her favorite part of going to Peru was getting to know a little girl from the village. “I enjoyed seeing the sites of course, but having a human being depend on you and build a relationship with you was something else.”
Filsouf said she was a little paranoid about going to Peru at first, but her initial fears dissolved quickly. “Everything was excellent and I feel invincible like I can do more things.” Filsouf said she had a great experience that she would recommend to others. “I think people should venture out of their comfort zone and not be scared to try something new because it could be something they really need to strengthen and grow overall as human beings.”
Mirian Gutierrez, a business administration major, said that she would love to go back to Peru and be a part of Peru’s Challenge again. “My favorite part about Peru’s Challenge was knowing that we were helping kids,” Gutierrez said. “We got to meet the kids and see how sweet they were. It was amazing knowing that we were going to help their education.”
Other students said the highlight of the trip was the sightseeing. “My favorite part was Machu Picchu because going to Machu Picchu was something on my bucket list that I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” Spencer Sopha, a psychology major, said. The Scholars spent the day at Machu Picchu hiking trails and exploring the Inca ruins.
The Scholars Program is designed to give high-achieving students the chance to participate in student-centered learning experiences that promote intellectual growth, cultural appreciation, leadership development and civic engagement. The program admits 15 new students each year.