Earlier in December, I made my way back to Cusco for the first time since finishing my term as Project Manager for GirlSportWorks in 2013. I experienced that familiar feeling of excitement as my plane started its approach into the Sacred Valley region and the rocky peaks of the Andes began to emerge beneath the clouds. There is nothing quite like the wing-side view of this descent, and I was so thankful to have the opportunity to make this journey once more.
On assignment with GSW, I was tasked with visiting our sports programs throughout Cusco and checking in with current and potential school partners before the school year break between December and March. I couldn’t wait to revisit the schools, check out my favorite restaurants from way back when, and of course, play sports with the Chicas Dinamicas once more.
From the always-thrilling experience of riding a combi, Cusco’s main mode of public transport, to the Incan Emperor dressed for photo ops in front of the 12-angled stone, the rhythms of Cusco life were just as I remembered. While the GSW program is approaching its 14th year of operation in Peru, the strong legacy that GSW has built during this time became very evident throughout my visit.
One of my first meetings was with Carlota, a teacher and director of a local children’s non-profit who worked with Sarah Smith, GSW’s co-founder, back in the early days of the program. Welcoming me with open arms into her home, she reiterated over and over how we should reach out to her if we ever need help with anything related to running GSW in Cusco.
I also had the pleasure of reconnecting with Eli, a former school director that GSW has worked with extensively over the years. By chance we ran into each other in the Plaza de Armas, Cusco’s main city square, and in addition to just being able to say hi and exchange hugs, she excitedly told me about all the new ways she thought GSW could continue to engage with schools in the Cusco community.
Apart from these conversations, I also noted the familiar screams of excitement from our students as they saw us climb the hill to their school with our giant sports bags for class in tow – for those who have been able to attend a Chicas Dinamicas sports class, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
These interactions made me proud because they speak to the lasting reputation that GSW has built in Cusco. We are not only recognized as an organization with an important mission to fulfill, but we are also recognized as trusted partners and mentors for the girls who participate in our program. I can’t wait to see how the GSW team continues to build and develop in the years to come!
Project Manager 2012-2013