Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Everyone Heading To Their Own Home

Thank you for following the blog!
Hello Parents:
I just spoke with Martha Ashley in the Atlanta airport, who is with all the students and faculty and ready to come home soon. All the students are in great health, which was great to hear. She says that customs went very smoothly and that all the TSA folks were very kind to the students as they came through security. Thank you for supporting World Leadership School and we are honored to be able to work once again with the incredible students, teachers and leaders of St. Mary's Academy.
Ross Wehner
World Leadership School
Hello family and friends of the SMA Peru program!

The group has arrived in Atlanta and it looks like they are scheduled for an early arrival in Denver.
Please feel free to call us with any questions or concerns (303) 679-3412.

Delta Air Lines Flight 1916
On-time - departs in 2 hours 30 mins
Departs Atlanta,
  1. Wednesday, November 25

    11:06 AM

  1. Arrives Denver,
    Wednesday, November 25
Scheduled 12:31 PM
Updated Arrival:11:52 AM

Thank you for your support!
Program Coordinator
World Leadership School

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Saying farewell to Ollanta.

We are having a slow-paced day

After a late breakfast, we are packing and playing. Lunch will be in Urabamba in an outdoor cafe. We will then travel to Cusco and walk about before going to the airport. Thank you for following our blog and for your prayers and blessings. 

Relaxing or playing

Monday, November 23, 2015

Sorry, no bloggers tonight

We had our candle circle ceremony tonight and typically go to bed right after. Hence, no bloggers tonight. I hope you enjoyed them.

We had a great end to the community project and a delightful panchamanca. Tomorrow we start our journey home tomorrow.

Just in case you need a reminder, here is our flig schedule.

Cusco to Lima
LA 2068 @ 7:45 pm

Lima to Atlanta
DL 0150 @ 1:55 am (November 25th)

Atlanta to Denver
DL 1916 @ 11:05 am

We arrive at DIA at 12:31pm on Wednesday, November 25th

Monday, November 23rd

- Community Project Day V
- Pachamanca "earth oven" celebration with host families
- Dinner with host families
- Candle Circle

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Machu Picchu

Rhea Rowan
Hello Mughu, Dad, Mom and Khaili,

I miss you all and am so excited to see you when I come home.

Today we went Machu Picchu, it was fantastic, truly a once in a lifetime experience, We learned about the history and spirituality of Machu Picchu. 

I hope everyone is okay and I miss you all.
Rhea Rowan❣

Anna Grace Fusaris
Hi family and friends!  Today we went to Machu Picchu.  This was the best day of the whole trip for me.  It was perfect because we read our speeches in the background of the main mountain of Machu Picchu.  The tour was amazing too.  Our tour guide explained where the girls stayed and where the boys stayed and what they did for work.  It was awesome!  The only downside was the train ride and bus ride.  The bus ride was one hour and forty minutes.  The bus ride was forty minutes but for some reason it felt shorter than it actually was.  Well on the train ride they served food and Ginger Ale so I am cool with that.  This was truly a once in a lifetime experience.  And it will be the one trip I will remember when I become wiser and older.  Nothing could ever change my way of thinking about how amazing this trip has been.  I miss you family and I will see you soon!

Kevin Reyes
Our trip to Machu Picchu today was truly a great experience. Just knowing that you'll visit a place that some wait their entire lives to visit makes it all the more spectacular to see. The tour of it was amazing and I really enjoyed seeing how perfectly some of the stones fit together and what the Incan/Andean cross was a symbol for. Our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable about Machu Picchu and taught us lots of interesting things. There were some alpacas in a random courtyard in the urban area of Machu Picchu and they were fun to see. I was really nervous about giving my speech today, but I felt like i did well on it. I would describe Machu Picchu to you all here in this entry, but I dont think it’s possible to describe in words.

P.S.- Hi family! I miss you guys lots and cant wait to see you again.


Hayden Schwartz
“People who are crazy enough think they can change the world are the one who do.” -Steve Jobs
I’m not saying I can change the world but maybe I will try. Over the course of the trip I have really struggled with poverty. It was very hard for me to see it at first. When we first came to Ollantaytambo I saw the stray dogs on the street it made me feel so bad and guilty. I realized that our culture is based on material thing. As the trip went on and I saw the children playing futbol in the streets with so much happiness. I realized I was the poor one not in wealth but in happiness. They have so much happiness and love in their lives and they appreciate the little things. The way the Peruvians look at you as you walk down the street there faces are so welcoming and kind. They do not judge you, but welcome you in with a kind smile. I am taking so much back from this trip not in gift but my outlook on life 

Lots of love, 

Tea before anchor


Machu Picchu - many photos to share once home

Sunday, November 22nd

- Machu Picchu
- Pizza dinner

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Birthday Celebration and Family Time

Josh Buck
Today was the best day with my homestay family by far. Before, we didn’t really engage with them. We watched TV and ate. But today was different. Today we spend a lot more time getting to know each other, and the kids in my homestay family started talking to me. Lillian is in my homestay, and it was her birthday today so we also got lots of good food, and a giant sponge cake. I also did a lot of shopping and I got lots of gifts for everyone in my family. I really enjoyed today and I connected with my homestay more. Tomorrow is Machu Picchu and then one more day until we leave.

Nicolas Rodriguez
Today was the highlight of my trip. We got to spend the whole day with our host family and I really like all of them. They don’t even come close to my true family, but they make me feel at home. The mom is a great cook and the kids are hilarious. I was really bummed because Alex and Luis weren't there, but I had a great time with everybody else. We  played soccer and went to the market and I got all the Rods gifts. Peru is truly a wonder of the world, it is amazing.  

Lillian Humber
Today is my birthday and I have to say I have never had two cakes slammed into my face in one day. For the peruvian tradition, they make you take a bite right out of the cake as a permission to cut the cake. As you take a bite, they push it into your face. Anyway, we went shopping and many of the people made really cool things including everything you can think of including an alpaca! My host family was very fun because we played soccer and played many rounds of uno. Also, my host dad, Abel, has 12 siblings and I got to meet many of them. Anyway, to my mom and dad that are reading this, thanks for dealing with me for 13 years.
Love Lillian

Paulina Ursua Garcia
Spending a day with my host family was probably one of my favorite days here in Peru. We went on a hike and we toured the town (Ollantaytambo) and it was really, really cool. The people here are so nice, especially the children. Children you don’t even know will say hi or hola and they are just the sweetest things. We also went to the market today. They sell so many things there, like alpacas made with alpaca fur. I had so much fun just looking around at the market. Today was a day I will not soon forget. I miss you all and I’ll see you in a few days! 

Happy birthday

Josh played happy birthday on his new pan flute. Later we sang and had cake to celebrate Lillian's 13th birthday. 

Tomorrow is Lillian's birthday!

We are preparing

Saturday, November 21st

- Home stay families all day!
Celebrate Lillian! Today she turns 13!

Evening meeting

Friday, November 20, 2015

Ruins, Shopping and Service

Michael Hills
Today was the first day we were able to shop because yesterday we didn’t have any time to shop. Once we got down from the ruins we were next to the market and I went with Josh and Jacobo an bought some knives. Next we went to the plaza and I bought a blanket and a pan flute. I also bought some gifts for my host family and my family. This also helped me get closer to Jacobo and Josh. I still have some money for the way back. I am happy and sad that there is only 3 day left. I hope to see you all soon.

Ethan Carr
Today we went to the Ollantaytambo Ruins. The ruins were really amazing. They are up on the mountains. There is an amazing view on the town from the top. I was a bit afraid, because I don’t enjoy heights. It was very narrow but you could see everything from the top. It was very hard to climb, because there were very many steps that we had to climb. Climbing the Ollantaytambo Ruins was a really fun and exciting hike.

Ellie Turner
Hi everybody!
    Today was almost like my turning point during this trip. I realized today that there are so many different kinds poverty. There is the most commonly known type which is financially poverty, but there are millions of other types. I feel as though in the Peruvian culture it is almost based on fun and happiness, I wish our culture was too. The American culture is extremely poor in content, we can never be happy. We always have a need for more, more, more. Even with how much we have we need more, we can never be completely happy. In Peru everyone is happy even with as little as some people have. It was definitely a huge eye opener for me. (I love/ miss my family and friends).

Luca Bonanno
Today during the community service project we painted the wooden bleachers bright green. About half way through the day I climbed over the wall that kept us in the community service project and on the other side there was a corn field. I went to go find one of the kids who went exploring in the corn field because it was time for us to go back. But I realized that if I went to go find them I would get lost. Then I went over to the trash pile to go throw rocks out of it because we needed to reuse as many of those rocks as possible for the kids that will go to Peru next year. It was very fun because I just got to throw rocks into a pile and throw the cement into a pile for a while. I miss my parents very much craving a pizza when I get back. from Luca.

Friday, November 20th

- Ollantaytambo ruins hike
- Shopping free time
- Lunch with homestay families
- Community Project Day IV
- Dinner with homestay families

Next up

First up

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Dancing and School

Andersen Dodge
Today the whole group went to a gym to learn some dancing, but it was more like zumba. It was so much fun! Most of us were terrible but that was okay. We went to a room with mirrors surrounding us so we could watch our scary, terrible dancing. While watching the instructor dance to the music we would repeat the steps. When we were finished, we were all sweating like crazy! Before we started, Mrs. Ashley kept making jokes on how she was going to laugh about our terrible dancing! It was so funny. Overall, it was so fun and a great workout. I miss my family so much and I can’t wait to see you on Wednesday. Wow, this trip has flown by!

Jacobo Arango
Hello everyone! I hope that you are all having a good two weeks without me (talking to my parents). Today, we woke up at the usual time, 7:30. After an hour, a groggy group of middle schoolers headed off to Urubamba, where we met the students of a very advanced high school. We got to meet them and converse about different things. At least the people that spoke Spanish could. I enjoyed talking to them, and paying as much attention as I could to their lessons. What they were learning was quite advanced, and a lot of my friends and I didn’t understand much, even in a class like math, where you don't need to know very much of the language. The kids were a lot more talkative than I thought they’d be, and we played tic-tac-toe a lot with them. Thank you for reading. For my parents: I love you guys and I will see you soon! Sayonara.

Scott Biggs
Today was a fun and interesting day. We visited a school in Urubamba, after sitting in on some classes we had lunch with the kids. For lunch we had a soup not unlike pho but with small noodles and a plate of veggies in a curious tart/vinegar/mystery dressing, it was pretty good. It was a great opportunity to practice my Spanish speaking skills, and thankfully I didn’t fail too bad. I felt this especially in a class where the kids were learning English, but I had to translate the English to Spanish because the other people there didn’t take a language of only took French. But you know what, I only messed up three times! I really hope that I enjoy the ending bit of this trip as much as I enjoyed the start of it. Greetings from Peru!

Lauren Falicia
Hello everybody, I hope all is well at home, or away. Today we went to the sacred valley school in Urubamba. It was very nice to revisit the welcoming school. I really enjoyed seeing familiar faces, and even new ones that greeted me with a shy smile or a very long conversation. We played a series of really fun games with them after we ate lunch with them. I nervously volunteered for the first one, not knowing what I was getting myself into. we had to fill up balloons with a very big bottle of water. Once we filled the balloon the best we could, we had to detach the balloon from the bottle. I accidentally sprayed my partner and myself while trying to fill the bucket with the water from the balloon. We both laughed really hard at my mistake and it was a really nice moment for me. We also met two very nice students named Shirley and Sebastian. Shirley spoke English and was super sweet. Bye for now everyone, see you soon! 


Dinner table flowers from the market

Thursday, November 19th

- Visit Colegio Valle Sagrado
- Lunch at Colegio Valle Sagrado
- Sports and free time with local students
- Dinner with homestay families

Wake up

Breakfast and play

Good morning

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Soccer, Serving and World Issues

Kevin Reyes
On the community project at the school, some students and parents were there to work with us today. Most of them were about our age, but I think I speak for the group when I say conversing with them was a challenge. They only spoke Spanish, and we mostly spoke English, but even then, we were able to work together on the project, which today, was clearing rocks from a field. Something that I noticed about them was how hard they were working today. We were working to do good for the community and lend a helping hand, but they were trying to improve their own school. Their determination was noticeable, because it was their school they were fixing. To them, this was probably a place that they could call a home away from home. I really loved how they were so cheerful to be drudging away in the hot sun with smiled on their faces. Personally, I was able to talk to some of them and they were really nice and compassionate. 

P.S.- Hi Mom, Hi Dad. Just wanted to tell you that I'm ok and I miss you lots!

Hayden Schwartz
I was assigned to talk about futbol (soccer). Futbol is a sport that I love to watch and play. There’s something about being on the field when nothing else matters and the smell of the fresh cut grass is in the air. When we talked about Peru and how futbol was one of the main sports here I was very excited to see them play. When we got to play the first time we just played each other and a boy probably eight or nine named Charlie played with us and he is ten times better than me. The way he controlled the ball at his feet and his focus on the ball was special to see. Today, we played kids our age and they could dribble circles around me. They were doing the Maradona like Messi or Ronaldo and I was amazed. When I return to the U.S., I plan on telling my teammates about it. I gave my host mom her gift yesterday and it was an apron because she owns a cafe and she started to cry. I realized how something so small could mean so much to someone.

Miss my family and friends so much!

XOXO Hayden

Molly Miller
After lunch today everyone came back to the hotel and we did some WLS activities. The games were interesting and I think everyone had a good time and we definitely made some memories. We came inside and started an exercise where we were split into groups and were given cards. The cards had different issues faced in today in Ollantaytambo. We then had to prioritize which ones we would tackle first if we were the ruling government. We shared with the big group and then discussed the posters and why we thought what we did. It got a little heated but I think everyone took something valuable away from it. 

I have had a great time with my host family and I am enjoying all that they have to offer in Peru.  I have been on two hikes and one was to ruins behind the school that none of the tourists know about, which was amazing. We had these old Inca ruins all to ourselves to explore. I am having a hard time coping with the animals on the streets, but I have everyone trying to make me feel better about it. I am making many memories and I love all my family so don’t worry or miss me. I hope I can continue to learn and experience many more new things while I'm here.

Ashley Fisher
Today after we did our WSL lesson, a man came in the room and Mrs. Ashley said that he was an author, named Ronald Castillo Espinoza, that wanted to share his stories with us. He spoke Spanish, Quechua, and a little bit of English. He was telling us how he writes stories for children and sells them at some stores here in Peru. Ronald passed around the books he wrote among us. They were very cool because his little brother did the illustrations and each page had three different languages on it! He was a very interesting person that I thought was very inspiring.

During our anchor today Mrs. Ashley said that we were going to a school and taking a dancing class tomorrow! We also have some free time to go out in the village and shop. We’re allowed to take pictures and we are all very excited for that.

Prioritizing community needs

Political party 1

Political party 3


Early risers

Work site

Meeting students before working to prepare field

Wednesday, November 18th

- Community Project Day III
- Lunch with homestay families
- WLS curriculum
- Dinner with homestay families

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

What is a typical day like in Peru

Ellie Turner - Hi friends, family, and everyone inbetween,
Peru is amazing. I’m surrounded by the powerful yet comforting mountains and all the rich smells of cooking food float around me and put different paintings in my head. Every morning is almost identical, like a play running smoothly. We awake usually to the sound of Johan rapping on our door or kids playing in the courtyard. We then groggily get up, shower, and then get dressed. Afterwards we usually go out to the courtyard and play games like soccer and hacky sack. Breakfast is usually around eight o'clock which is a light meal of bread, fruit, and tea. Then our day starts with other activities.
Dear family and friends: I miss you guys so much and I can’t wait to see you all soon! My host family is great but very different from my own family. Love you all.

Paulina Ursua Garcia - Hey guys,
I’m having an awesome time in Peru! Of course the change in environment can throw you off, but my homestay family really makes the change a lot easier. We have lunch and dinner with our homestay and they are great! The little girl, Garled, is so sweet and funny. She reminds me so much of my little sisters. The mom in our homestay is so kind and understanding. She is an amazing cook, her food is awesome! Talking to them is so fun, their stories are really funny and interesting. Going to our homestays is definitely a highlight of my day. 
    I miss you guys so much! I hope that everything so going great over there. I hope your birthday went well Soph. I’m so sorry I missed it and I love you so much. Happy 14th! I miss all of my friends. Beftu, I love and miss you so much, keep me updated! To my family, los quiero muchísimo y los extraño. Mandale saludos a mi Mami Ludi y Papi Chas. Los quiero mucho!!! Los veo muy pronto! 

Rhea Rowan - Hello Mom, Dad, Khaili, and Mughu,
I am having a fabulous time in Peru! I love my family here, my Peruvian father is a basket weaver and my Peruvian mom owns a shop in the market. I also have a sister who is in college, she studying to be an administrative person and my other sister is in high school. I do have two brothers, but I have not met them. 

We have been working on our community project for two days. So far we have built bleachers, put in trees, weeded the ground, scavenged for rocks and cleared debris. I thought that all the work would be simple and easy but it's a lot of hard work, I have never sweated so much (except when auntie paid me too rake and weed her yard in the hot and humid Florida sun). All the parents of the students are so kind and are helping us with the school. 

I can't wait to see you all when I get home. 

Rhea Rowan

Anna Grace Fusaris - Every day we do something called ANCHOR.  ANCHOR is when we meet at night and reflect our day.  A stands for appreciation.  What did you appreciate so far about this trip and about your day?  N stands for news.  What is the news about what happened today and what is going to happen tomorrow?  C stands for concerns.  What concerns have you had about this trip?  H stands for hopes.  What are your hopes for tomorrow and the rest of the trip?  O stands for obscurities.  What has made you feel uncomfortable or something that has happened that is unusual?  R stands for reading.  We read a famous quote from a booklet that Mr. Blair or Mrs. Ashley gives the leaders of the day.  Today’s famous poem was by Robert Frost.  I love this trip I am so glad I decided to come!  I love you family!  #Peruisawesome!

Basket Weaving