Sunday, April 3, 2011

Students are in Miami!!

Hello parents. I just spoke with Martha Ashley and the group arrived in Miami earlier this morning. They are all happy, healthy and ready to see everyone at the Denver airport in a few hours. We are all very proud of the group and all that was accomplished during this program. Please call the office with any questions 303.679.3412.

Erin Lasky
Program Director

Friday, April 1, 2011

Working; Machu Picchu; Saying Goodbye

Lily: Today we went on a tour of Saqsaywaman, which was fun. Before that we said goodbye to the kids at the preschool. Going to see all the kids at the preschool made me feel like I had done something good for the community of Ollantaytambo. 

We had dinner together on the main plaza and then returned to the hotel to have a candle-passing ceremony. Each of us took a turn with the candle and talked about favorite impressions while sitting in a circle in the garden. A light mist fell. Tomorrow we have some free time in Cusco. At 11:00 we begin our long trip home. 

A few updates!

Friday:  Wow, Machu Picchu was amazing. We'll try to post pictures tonight. We're in Cusco - a beautiful city. We visited some stunning ruins before arriving and the Sacred Family cathedral upon arriving. Our guide was smart and interesting. More later. We're going out to explore. Love to all.

Kate:  (Tuesday) We had an option to either hike or shop after the tour of the ruins. Most of the students shopped, but Maddie and I went on a hike with Mrs. Ashley, Mr. Sampson, Mrs. Rutan, Jenifer and Aldolfo. Aldolfo would explain the ruins/ storage place of the Incans to us in Spanish. We would try to pick up what we could then Jenifer would help with translation. Next to the storage unit where the Incans would keep grain and seeds there was an open area to sit and take it in. We sat for about 20 minutes but it felt so short. The view was incredible. I felt lucky to be here. On our way back down the mountain we saw that other hikers had craved their names into the cactus. We wrote our names and also craved SMA 2011. The experience was unforgettable and I am grateful for opportunities like this.


Samantha:  Wednesday, I drew a nature theme on the wall of the preschool.  I drew a tree with swirling branches.   I drew flowers, grass, bugs, and a bird.  We painted it with so many colors and we are pretty much done with this part of the preschool.  It looks mostly like new again.  Our host families are so nice they gave us gifts at the end.  Peru is so beautiful.

Hannah: (Wednesday) We yawn and stretch our limbs, awakening to once again a day in another country.  The alarm clock reads five a.m., but to our bodies it still feels like night time.  The day looks dark and gloomy, however, a humid mist settles over our arms.  We walked to the plaza (center of town) with its eerie and dim lights and hardly a single soul in sight.  Of course, this was extremely unusual for the common bustling and spirited sounds and commotion from the center during the day.  At night, it felt like a ghost town, so empty and bare.  We soon started our exhausting hike around the town of Oyantaytambo.  The views were breathtaking on that short journey.  The roaring river, majestic ruins blanketed softly by mist, and a gorgeous natural spring with crystal clear water.  The hike, although a bit tiring was worth every second of it.  Not only did we get to see amazing landscapes throughout the hike, but we got to experience the culture of Peru.  We had the opportunity to observe the way people live life in oyantaytambo, Peru.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Heading to Machu Picchu

Hello parents! I just talked to our coordinator in Peru, Adela and things are going great! The group left early this morning to visit Machu Picchu. They will spend the day exploring the ruins before taking an evening train back to Ollantaytambo.They will be updating the blog this evening!

Erin Lasky
Program Director

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Peanut Post V

Forgot in last Post to give you the heads-up on future creature comforts so you gals don't pull a 'lord of the flies' on the guys for having the premium sleeping quarters... I'm sure the wily Hunter will have you gals sleeping like beauties and the guys snoozing in the open-air tree houses at the next venue. The guys will surely have better nite time stories to tell I'm sure, but you gals will have it made-in-shade sipping iced-lemonade, swinging it on your indoor downy silk hammocks. Always save (and hope) the best for last, Dad.
We're almost finished with our work at school. Soon we hope to post pictures of the murals and tables.

Tomorrow is Machu Pichu!

Last night, an author spoke with us about his work as a teacher with children who speak Quechuan and are learning Spanish in school. He is writing books in both languages. He read to us in Quechuan and Spanish. The stories are well known folklore among the Quechuan people. Some of us purchased books. Mrs. Ashley purchased three for the Middle School library.

We can hardly believe how fast it seems to be going now. We're having our last meal in the homes of our families. Tonight we have a community dinner at the hostel.

Some of us feel a little bit homesick, but at the same time, we wouldn't want to miss a minute of this.

We love your comments. We love you!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Marshmallow Challenge - Monday Evening

Piper: (a blog about Monday, March 28 )Picture this: 13,000 feet high, as you continue to drink and chew your gum under the command of Mr. Sampson, you reach the small mountain-top weaving village of Patacancha.  The lush peaks stand piercing the blue sky all around you, but even the clouds must hang lower than the mountain tops.  This is what it was like when we made it up to Patacancha.  The voyage, however, was not as picturesque.  I mean, it was beautiful, but it was a bit difficult (scary) for the bus to get through the small, steep, muddy paths.  Nevertheless we made it through without as much as a scratch.  While there we learned about the women who make a living by selling their beautiful weavings to tourists who make it that far.  I could see why they were such a tourist attraction: everything they make is so beautiful.  It seemed almost devastating, the prices they charged for all their hard work.  They put in so much time and effort and delicate care, yet they received only a minimal reward.  Thankfully, everyone bought many items of their craft.  One “llama boy” (Walker) in hopes to complete his all-llama-all-the-time outfit definitely made a lot of their work worthwhile.  I enjoyed this trip to Patacancha a lot, and I hope that one day I may return.

Kate: (a blog about Tuesday, March 29) We had an option to either hike or shop after the tour of the ruins. Most of the students shopped, but Maddie and I went on a hike with Mrs. Ashley, Mr. Sampson, Mrs. Rutan, Jenifer and Aldolfo. Aldolfo would explain the ruins/ storage place of the Incans to us in Spanish. We would try to pick up what we could then Jenifer would help with translation. Next to the storage unit where the Incans would keep grain and seeds there was an open area to sit and take it in. We sat for about 20 minutes but it felt so short. The view was incredible. I felt lucky to be here. On our way back down the mountain we saw that other hikers had craved their names into the cactus. We wrote our names and also craved SMA 2011. The experience was unforgettable and I am grateful for opportunities like this.


Today has been one to remember. We started off  bright and early with a 7:00am wake up call from Mr.Sampson. Then we headed straight off to have a breakfast of french toast. After that we had an hour to get dressed, clean and hang out in the courtyard of the hostile. Once everyone was ready we headed off for a hike to the ruins. It was a very long, but interesting hike. The most interesting thing we learned was that the Incans had created a water transport system throughout the ruins. After the ruins we had the option of going to the Incan store houses or going around town. I chose to hang around town with Austin, Walker and Michael. We shopped for almost the whole time, finding things to bring back for our families and friends. Once everyone had come back we went off in our groups to have lunch with our host families. My group had a blast. First we talked about our days, then played some card games, had our lunch of soup and vegetables and chicken, then finished with more card games. Once our time was up we went to the preschool to start to finish up our work. We started to clear rocks from the grass, paint murals in the school and finish making tables for the students. After our work we are heading over to our host families houses for dinner. Once dinner is over we are heading back to the hostal to do visit with a local author and hang around till it’s time for bed. Everyone is very excited for what else  is to come on our trip, and can’t wait to come home and tell everyone about or experiences.

Monday, March 28, 2011

                        Peru is beautiful. The mountains here are amazing along with everything else. There are many plants and vegetation here, which are all green. The weather is pretty good. It will rain every once in a while, about once a day at the least, but today it hasn’t rained at all. The hostal is small but very homey. There are many plants with in our hostal including a peach tree and an avocado tree. Ollantaytambo is fun to be in. All the people are nice, except for a few older women. The children are friendly and very cute here. Also, my host family really does make me feel at home and they really are another family to me. My family includes two parents, one son, two daughters, and an exchange student. The food is great. Most of it is chicken though.
            Today was great! We got to go to Patacancha today. In Patacancha we learned about how weaving is done. Weaving takes a lot of patience and very skilled hands. The women were all very nice but I couldn’t really understand them because the spoke Quetcha. We also got to continue our work on the preschool. The preschool is always fun and I always have a good time. Abril, a little girl “helping” in the preschool, is very sweet and energetic. Abril helped a few of us build three tables and some cubbies today. We are very good carpenters. Now we are at a rest time, more like a play time, and then we will go to dinner with our families. Tonight we are having spagetti and cake for Michael’s birthday. Then, we get to dance with Michael… Well we’re having a wonderful time, and I can’t wait to see you all.

New Pictures

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Walker- Today was a wonderful day that started with an early morning. As we woke as the sun rose, we saw the mountains surrounded by clouds. Truly, Ollantaytambo has some of the most beautiful views that we have seen during our trip and throughout our lives. After breakfast, which consisted of delicious Peruvian pancakes and mango juice (yes, be jealous), we headed off to the school in the town that we are helping to construct. Work today consisted of many separate things from making a walkway with gravel and rocks, painting the interior and exterior of the school with primer, sanding wood to make tables, taking down some trees, and many other acts of service and work. Afterwards we went to a welcoming ceremony at a local colegio, or a high school. There we ate delicious food, and many of us played sports with some of the school boys. We played both soccer (final score 32-2) and basketball, which was essentially taking it to our turf. It also rained very hard while we were playing. Then we came back to Ollantaytambo, where I write this to you. We are currently at a basket weaving session, where we all have the opportunity to weave a basket and experience the everyday life of an artisan. Later tonight we will eat dinner with our host families. Then off to bed! Overall, the trip is very exciting to this point. I won’t say anything about the future of our trip because it seems to change every 5 minutes.

Emily:  The trip has been an amazing experience so far. Everything has been fun and exciting. We woke up early this morning for a pancake breakfast. We then spent our first morning at the preschool. Some of us painted, others separated dirt from rocks to create a pathway or sanded pieces of wood for the legs of some tables. We were able to rotate job to job so we wouldn’t get too bored or worn out.

For lunch, we ate at a high school in the area. We had a choice of trout or chicken, I chose chicken but those who had the trout said it was good. After eating, the guys started playing soccer with some students. Naturally, the Peruvian team slaughtered the Americans. The game then switched to basketball, and we began to take the lead so we integrated the teams. About halfway through the game it started to rain, and continued until we got back Ollantaytambo.

As soon as we got back, we all gathered and walked about 5 minutes to my host family’s house where we’re weaving baskets. It’s really a lot harder than I thought it would be.

Right now it’s about 6:00 and everyone’s finishing up his or her baskets. In a few minutes the other eating group is going to head to their host family’s house for dinner. I’m not sure of the plans for tomorrow, but I’m sure it will be fun!

Pictures from Peru!!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Hola Familia y Amigos:

This is not like any place I’ve ever been or imagined!  Photos don’t tell the story and yet we are trying to capture bits of it with our flip cameras and digital snaps. There’s not one of us who isn’t surprised and awed by the spectacular scenery. Steep mountains, streaked with green shrubs and rocky oranges, reds and grays, line the sacred valley and the Urubamba river cuts through it’s middle. Goats, sheep, cows and pigs graze along the roadsides and on the soccer fields. Fertile fields are full of grains and vegetables, as are terraces that perch high up on the steep slopes.

We began our day with eggs, toast, orange juice and tea.  Sitting around a large table in the hostel, we each wrote down our greatest fear (meeting and eating with host families won hands down) and one of our goals for this trip (understanding the culture of Perú was the most-identified).

We then packed for the rafting adventure. The drive to the starting point allowed us to observe the life in many small and medium-sized villages. Once there, we changed into wet suits, helmets and PFD’s. Decked out, we boarded in three rafts and ran the river. We had so much fun! We even had rain to complement the white water. At the other end, we had tea and a picnic lunch (no rain).

Once back at the hostel, students learned about Ollantaytambo with a scavenger hunt. We had a fairly deep discussion about cultural differences. This increased our appetites for our first dinner with host families. That’s where we are now. We’ll write more tomorrow.

Un abrazo a todos!
Hello Mom! Hello Dad! Hello Sis! Hello Bro!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Group Has Arrived, Tummies Full Already

Hello Parents,
I just spoke with Jennifer Klein, our instructor and former SMA faculty, and Adela Arenas, our country director, and they were having a huge buffet lunch and celebrating Samantha's birthday at Geranio's, our favorite lunch spot in the Sacred Valley. The food they are enjoying includes ají de gallina, papas a la huancaína, choclo con queso, chicharrón and other Peruvian classics. After arriving mid-day in Cusco, the group spent some time exploring Cusco's main plaza, before dropping altitude and entering the lush Sacred Valley, where they will spend their program. Since they are working on very few hours of sleep at this point, we're going to get them all to bed early for a big start tomorrow. We are thrilled to be working with this wonderful group of students, along with  Celsa and Martha and Corey, and expect big things from them!
Ross Wehner, World Leadership School