Goshen College students returned to Lima from our concluding retreat at the beach on Sunday afternoon and arrived back at Casa Goshen for three hours of final preparations. They discarded unwanted items, repacked their belongings –and made sure their suitcases weighed less than 50 pounds. They then had final precious moments to relax and prepare for their overnight flight to the United States.
First, though, they had a delicious Peruvian meal of aji de gallina – shredded chicken in a mild chili sauce over rice and potatoes and a fresh juice blend of mango and passion fruit prepared by Alicia Taipe Tello, our excellent program assistant. Next, they enjoyed a delicious chocolate cake to celebrate the birthdays (during March and April) of Aimee, April, Derek, Jake and Jonathan. Some later gave massages to one another to relax and stave off their pre-flight jitters. Still, the mood at Casa Goshen was joyous as students joked and spoke excitedly about their upcoming reunions with family members and friends.
At 8:05 p.m., the students carried their suitcases and backpacks down from the fourth floor apartment to the courtyard below and then to the street to a waiting bus, which soon departed. Traffic was very light so the trip to Lima’s Jorge Chavez International Airport took a rapid 30 minutes.
After arriving at the bustling airport, the students got in line to check in for the flight to Houston, Texas. They checked their luggage (all made the weight limit) and got boarding passes. The students then walked upstairs to their departure gate and posed for final group photos, including one with Peru SST Co-Directors Richard R. Aguirre and Judy Weaver. We hugged each student and said our goodbyes. Within a few minutes, the students disappeared into the security screening area, about 9:20 p.m.
The student’s flight, a Boeing 767-300 jet, departed Lima nine minutes earlier than scheduled – at 11:41 p.m. – en route to George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. From there, the students are scheduled to catch a connecting flight to O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. If the connecting flight lands on time and the weather and traffic are reasonable, the students are expected to arrive back at Goshen College, by bus, about 5:30 p.m.
While they have left us, this group of students – whom we have decided to call the Fantastic 15 – grew close to us. We will miss Aimee, April, Caleb, Dean, Derek, Gina, Gretchen, Jackson, Jake, Jonathan, Malaina, Maria, Natalie, Neal and Thomas. And we wish them the best as they return to their families and friends. It has been a privilege to serve as their directors the past three months.