Global Service Scholar: James Santillana
Country: Peru

Going to Peru I expected to see a lot of poverty, and that witnessing such immense poverty would drastically change my life. Although I did see poverty all around, it was not something that I noticed. Or rather, it did not command my attention. It’s not that I was mentally repressing any economic struggles I encountered, but rather tha my experience in Peru was so much more than the poverty I witnessed. Peru is a country with beautiful people, beautiful lands, and a beautiful culture. No country should be defined by its poverty. Poverty does not define people. The biggest takeaway from my trip is that no matter where you are in the world, people are more similar than they are different.

Where you come from is an important part of who you are. I’m not denying that. But I believe that as humans we share many of the same pleasures, as well as the same pains. We have romantic interests. We go through heartbreaks. Many of us come from broken homes. We are intrigued when we meet people from places other than where we are from. A lot of us believe in a just world, and in the principle of being nice to others. The list goes on.

Despite most if not all of the kids at the soup kitchen coming from low income backgrounds, at the end of the day they were still kids just like any other in America. They could be obnoxious. They could be hyper. They could be mean to each other. But for the most part they showed me a lot respect and affection like the elder that I was to them. They enjoyed playing games whether it were UNO, a game called Ninja, or even chess. Even though at the boys’ orphanage it was more difficult to not notice their predicament, they were still kids, too. They loved playing soccer. They liked watching cartoons. They liked to roughhouse, and at other times they liked to color. Ultimately, like all humans, they had a fundamental desire to love and be loved.

This whole experience has further reinforced my desire to help people, to live a life of service. During my time in Peru, I felt the most fulfilled I’ve ever felt for the same reason. Overall I feel more confident and secure about myself. Although life has not gotten easier, I feel stronger, and more capable of confronting it. Another thing I got out of this trip is that I for sure want to travel around the world.