Since arriving in Peru, we (Richard R. Aguirre and Judy Weaver) have had many fascinating experiences. We have met warm and helpful people (often in unexpected places), made ourselves at home in Casa Goshen and visited fascinating museums and historic places, including Caral, site of the oldest known civilization in the Americas.
Still, we have had no greater joy than meeting the families who have hosted Goshen College Study-Service Term students in Lima since this unit was established. Without exception, they are kind, generous and gracious and they have provided protection, support, friendship and deep affection to scores of GC students.
As part of our orientation, we traveled widely in Lima – a city of 9 million people – over the past month and visited with 19 host families in their homes. It was a rewarding experience because we saw a wide range of homes and neighborhoods and learned about the transformative impact our students have had on the families and vice versa. The parents emphasized that they have learned at least as much from the students as they have taught in terms of language, culture and Peruvian family relationships. In some cases, the parents have maintained close ties with their Goshen “children” and often have received graduation and wedding invitations.
Later this week, this rewarding cycle will repeat when members of another Peru SST unit greet their new parents, sisters and brothers – and the Lima families grow by one. We look forward to witnessing these satisfying and educational encounters and to helping the students live out Goshen College’s core value of global citizenship:
“As responsible global citizens, we see, encourage and celebrate the image of God in others. We welcome and include the ‘stranger’ in our midst – respecting differences in world views while seeking common ground. We wish to transcend barriers between people not only through academic teaching and learning, but also in meaningful cross-cultural exchanges. We go into the world offering our gifts and lives in service to others.”