A Week in Cusco

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Head on a swivel, I entered the new-to-me colorful world of Cusco.

Surrounded by mountain ranges, I traveled through alleyways, each with their own personal touch. A vine-covered wall, an open coffee shop, doors of all shapes and colors – beckoning me to explore. A glance down another alleyway reveals women in traditional dress in vibrant sunrise colors selling trinkets alongside alpacas. I soon learned that the Incan capital is a city of color and contrast.

The school days brought joy. We made our way to the different schools with which GSW partners. Each of the schools exuded happiness with colorful buildings and chalk-filled recess courts.

Leaving class on my first day, we heard screaming young girls from a distance. We turned to see about 10 chicas sprinting down the street with huge smiles on their faces. Profes immediately were swarmed with hugs and kisses from the girls. They had spotted Alika and Lydia and had to come say hi. It was clear that these young girls cherish Alika and Lydia.

This week we taught the girls baseball. When one girl struggled with learning how to use the bat, there was always another girl who excitedly stepped up to help her. Seeing them work together to conquer the next ball that was thrown to them was inspiring. When one girl hit the ball, they all jumped for joy and cheered her on. The presentation of a new sport encouraged cooperation among the girls. Competition was not a factor.

I was excited to see how strong of a relationship the professors and directors of the schools had with Alika and Lydia. They were always enthusiastic to see Alika and Lydia and extremely supportive of GSW. It is great that such a wonderful relationship has been formed. I believe it formed due to the mutual want for nothing but the best for the girls.

I had my last day of class yesterday, and it was quite difficult to leave. The girls have made an impact on me that I will never forget. I am extremely grateful that the girls, and Alika and Lydia, welcomed me into this beautiful program.

One thing I learned on this trip was that a smile could go a long way. The hundreds of smiles I have seen while on this trip will stay with me forever, especially the smiles of the students. Their smiles welcomed me. They also conveyed a sense of accomplishment as they conquered a new skill, and confidence and joy as they peppered me with curious questions. Language barrier or not, a smile can say it all.

Laura Sullivan, Roanoke College Student and GSW Volunteer