PACE has been working in Peru since 2010, committed to long-term, mutually beneficial partnership with our partners. Macquarie University students work on a variety of partner-driven activities in the areas of education and community development, and environmental conservation with partner organisations including Peru's Challenge and Amazazon Conservation Association (ACCA).
Bachelor of Laws student Jennifer Tridgell reflects on her PACE International experience with Peru's Challenge.
Fifteen Macquarie PACE studentsfrom different backgrounds, degrees and experiences have ventured to the historical capital of Latin America, Cusco. For one month, they will work with a local NGO, Peru's Challenge, in the community school of Quilla Huata to teach, finish constructing a classroom and ultimately, help the village to become sustainable.
From the moment our plane dipped through clouds enshrouding the Andean peaks, Cusco had me breathless. Yes, the altitude may have contributed somewhat, but this red-brick city nestled at 3300 metres above sea level is something else. For the next month, this will be home. For fourteen other Macquarie students, our lovely team leader Lana and me, participating in Peru's Challenge is an exhilarating opportunity to explore South America, face cultural-barriers and collaborate with the local people.
In Quilla Huata school we are going to be working on health and hygiene, construction and teaching. Selvy, the co-founder of Peru's Challenge, school children and community representatives welcomed us warmly, hugging us and sprinkling colourful confetti on our heads. Having met the community and been touched by their reception, we threw ourselves into the work. The priority is finishing the classroom that the last Macquarie University contingent started. Construction initially involved stripping bundles of bamboo, nailing it down as roof insulation and evening out the floor. Not being so fond of heights, I spent most time with the bamboo and shovelling dirt. Needless to say, we'll all be very fit and ready by the time we have to climb Machu Picchu.
As the weeks pass, the Macquarie students are becoming better and closer friends. On the weekends, we have experienced the beauty and culture of Peru by touring Cusco and hiking around Sacred Valley. Wherever we go, views of the Andean mountains are peaking. During the week, after lesson planning and Spanish classes, we explore the cobbled alleyways, quaint cafes and gilded museums of Cusco.
In the final group reflection session, we were asked, "What has this project meant to you? What makes the work of Peru's Challenge so important?" Simply, it has shown me the enormous potential for hope. The people of Quilla Huata, the volunteers and everyone with Peru's Challenge all believe that this is a chance for the entire community to rediscover itself and build a more sustainable, healthier future. If you ever get a chance to do a PACE International program, seize the moment and never look back. Adios amigos!
Andrew Kimbell travelled to Cusco in Peru for his PACE activity - something that put his life in Australia into perspective.
Andrew's trip entailed working for an NGO called Peru's Challenge with two communities in the hills of Cusco, alternating between teaching and construction work in schools in each community.
"We worked from Monday to Friday but that time also included going on occasional house visits to the families of the kids we were working with. Seeing how those kids lived gave me extra motivation to make sure I made the most of my time in Peru," says Andrew.
For Andrew the biggest gain from his PACE experience was perspective. "The adults of the community work very hard to try and make some money and provide food for their normally large families," he says. "During the wet season this would mean starting in the fields around 4am and not going to bed until 10pm. While everyone's work ethic in itself was impressive, they were all such happy people! When I saw this I realised that I couldn't whine about having assignments due and how hard they are. I think to realise how true that is, you need to see how tough some people have it where just providing enough food for a family is a success.
"Doing a PACE project anywhere will give you a more global perspective on life, which can only make you wiser in how you approach your career and in what you really want