Joanna's Collection of SST Memories (Before Adding Her Own)

Joanna with her host mother, Rosario.
Joanna with her host mother, Rosario.

While studying in Lima during the first half of Study-Service Term, Joanna wrote this journal entry:

What do people say about SST?

It’s impossible to go on SST without hearing about it beforehand in a variety of methods and from a variety of people. This is my collection of memories of SSTers, past and present — what stood out to me at the time, since these stories remain in my mind today.

Alia emailed me about a tiny, starving, half-dead kitten she saw on her walk to school. Months later, she still regretted not trying to save the kitten or help it in some way.

Gretchen spoke with a shudder of the way some men treated women in Ayacucho.

Seth told me his family saw him reading a book in the Lord of the Rings trilogy with a picture of Gandolf on the front and asked him, “Oh, do you believe in Jesus?”

Jo masters a natural rock slide at the Incan site Saqsayhuaman in Cusco.
Jo masters a natural rock slide at the Incan site Saqsayhuaman in Cusco.

Liz told me she made a paper chain and each day she’d remove one paper and be one day closer to returning back to the States.

Maddie has a great story about winding up on stage in front of her whole village, performing a dance for them. She and Lydia felt like rock stars, and I think they even made it on to local TV.

Emma told me one time she ate soup and the only ingredient in it that she could identify was oil.

Michael told me he was content, perhaps more than he had been in a while.

Dominique told me she liked Wolof better than French.

Jama said that sometimes she would sit at the dinner table and converse with herself in English, just to communicate. I guess her family thought it was a bit crazy.

Jess tells a story about one day when she was changing after a shower and looked up to find a chicken standing in her room and watching her.

Seth recommended that I write down every experience, even the seemingly ordinary ones, because I’ll want to look back at them later.

Dean said, “It’s hard to explain but you’ll understand once you’ve been there.”

Rachel told me she spent a weekend at her rich host relative’s house and then went straight to a town of intense poverty, and it was REALLY hard.

Petey said he got bad altitude sickness at Machu Picchu and ran out of water.

Jordan talked about getting stung by jellyfish at their final retreat.

Hannah said, in some ways, it was like coming home.