Trip to Peru teaches local about service
January 23, 2013
By Hana Vaughn Waldenberg
Teo Lupu, a Sammamish resident and junior at the Overlake school, chose to spend her summer vacation overseas helping others. She has been lucky enough to visit a number of different countries on family vacations.
In the summer of 2012, however, she spent her second consecutive summer working with Vision Service Adventures. The Montana-based organization sends groups of teens on volunteer service trips to places around the world.
Teo’s motivation for taking a trip with Visions Service Adventures was to gain community service hours for her high school in a fun and exciting way. She explained that in addition to the need for community service hours, she also felt it would be beneficial to be exposed to cultures outside of her high school, which she says lacks diversity. On her first trip, to the Dominican Republic, Teo says she was very shy and hung back.
“I was homesick, and it took me a long time to adapt,” she said.
Teo said that trip inspired her to do another to prove she could adapt better. She also improved her Spanish during her time there. Their project in that area was to work at a day camp and help to build a community center over the course of four weeks.
“We finished the second floor of that community center while we were there,” she said.
Teo also got to teach some of the children from the day camp English.
In Peru, she says it was completely different. She was her outgoing self, right from the start and made lots of friends — some of whom, she is still in contact with.
In Peru, the organization had rented a house where girls lived on one floor and boys on the other. In their last week in Peru, Teo said they were able to spend the day at the house of a local to get a firsthand account for how they spent their day.
“It was hard work, and I didn’t completely know what I was signing up for before going either time, but it helped me learn things about myself,” Teo said.
They built at least three canals in Peru in the three weeks they worked there by making irrigation systems while working alongside people in the community. Before the Dominican Republic, she had been interested in going into the medical profession. After her trips, she said she might be better suited doing something with engineering.
Her parents supported her decision to take a trip with Vision Service Adventures.
“Many American children have a very protected life. Even the ones that aren’t privileged have a much better life than underprivileged children from poor countries. We sent her to the Dominican Republic and Peru to have some exposure to the life that most of the kids on this planet live and dedicate some part of her summer break to help those children,” said her mother, Angelica.
Teo said whether people go into the field they work in on the service project isn’t the point. She thinks the culture immersion itself is an invaluable opportunity.
“I would recommend this to people, someone who is comfortable being away from home and doing a lot of work. Anyone can do it, it just depends on how you react upon getting there,” she said.
On the Web
To learn about taking a Vision Service Adventure of your own go to www.visionsserviceadventures.com.