Genevieve DeWalt says Farewell to Peru
My time in Peru went by faster than I ever thought possible. On one hand it seems like just yesterday that I was going to my first day of school at Markham, but in other ways it feels like a lifetime ago. Either way, saying goodbye has been one of the hardest things that I have ever had to do. The bonds that I have made in Peru have become far deeper than I ever could have imagined, and I now have friendships to last a lifetime.
Honestly, it hasn’t quite hit me yet that I am not still living in Lima and that I won’t be joining my friends at Markham when school starts back up after their winter break. But for now, I can say with complete certainty that the past seven weeks have been the best of my life. My Spanish has improved immensely and I have learned so much about the Peruvian culture. I learned to love the welcoming kisses on the cheek and friendly smiles that I received every day. I even learned to love the insane traffic in Lima!
Each person that I met and friend that I made touched my life in his or her own unique way. Every day brought new surprises and new challenges— all of which made my exchange that much more exciting. Being forced out of my comfort zone to try new things made me learn so much about myself and the world around me.
One of the highlights of my trip was my second-to-last week where I participated in a “surf and service” project in Lobitos, Peru. Me and about 12 other students from Markham spent the week in the small town on the coast of Peru working with an organization called WAVES for Development. During the week, we worked at the local school and nursery–building a biodigester, planting trees, painting, cleaning up the beaches, and doing workshops with the young students. In the mornings and evenings, we had surf lessons with many of the locals. It was by far one of the best weeks of my life, and I learned so much from all of the people that I worked with. It was a trip that I never would have done had I not been on exchange. I am beyond grateful that I had the opportunity to participate.
Genevieve DeWalt Arrives in Peru
I am currently attending Markham College in Lima, Peru and I am living with my host, Ariana and her family. To say the least, my first two weeks in Lima have been unbelievably exciting, crazy, and all together, amazing. Lima is vastly different from the Bay Area. Although it has taken some adjusting, I already love it here.
The first thing that I noticed about the Peruvian culture was that everyone is extremely friendly and welcoming. Peruvians value hospitality more than any other culture I know. My host mom, Rosmery, immediately wanted to make sure that I felt at home and did everything in her power to make that happen. The next thing that I noticed was that Peruvians LOVE their food. The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of different Peruvian dishes, each one more delicious than the last. I know for certain that I will not go hungry while I’m here!
While Markham has many of the same values and principles as Athenian, it is entirely different. For starters, Markham is much bigger in terms of the number of students, and almost all of them have been attending the school their entire lives. The next main difference is that Markham is much stricter and more formal. Everyone is required to wear a uniform and cellphones are prohibited. It took a while to get used to. I definitely got lost many times during the first week, but now I feel like I have been here all along. The entire Markham community is very close-knit and everyone was very excited to welcome me into their lifestyle.
The largest challenge for me living in Peru has been the language barrier. Although most of Markham’s classes are taught in English, all of the students speak Spanish with each other outside of class. On top of that, my host parents don’t speak any English at all! It was difficult to communicate with everyone at first, but I am learning to be confident with my Spanish skills and have already improved so much.
Overall, my first couple weeks here have been so much fun. I have made so many great friends. I am so glad that I get the opportunity to experience firsthand the everyday life of a Peruvian student. Whether it’s meeting alpacas, learning to dance the salsa, or trying a new Peruvian dish, every day brings more surprises. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for me for the rest of my exchange!