The word “despedida” means farewell, and the SST program here in Peru has a long tradiation of Despedidas.  The students organize an event at the close of the first 6 weeks of the “study” portion of the program, and it is a fairly elaborate affair!   We had a very large group, including the host families, some of their extended family members, the Spanish language teachers (Irene, Moises and Ana), as well as our Peruvian coordinators (Celia and Willy) and our large group.  80 people!  The gathering hall at Buen Pastor was bursting at the seams, and it was HOT.

Our students chose to serve Haystacks, which was hilarious to try to translate (there’s no Spanish equivalent, really).  We were found around the room, pretending to be cows, or describing Amish farms with haystacks.  Our Peruvian guests loved the meal, regardless.  Desert was ice cream sundaes, with American Oreos, of course!

The students prepared a lovely program in a very short amount of time (remember they were at Machu Picchu just last week!) which included a rather hilarious play, of course in Spanish and with fairly elaborate costumes.  Our students also performed several musical numbers which were very well received.  (Imagine about 25 smartphones instantly engaged, recording every harmonious phrase.)  Of course they did a few hymns, and a small women’s group performed a very popular Peruvian folk tune that they had performed with the women’s choir in Goshen.  What really brought down the house, however, was all 16 of them performing “Hey Jude,” including a grand finale in the dark, with lighters.  It was just amazing.  As it turns out, “Na. . . na. . na. . nananana” is easily translated into Spanish, and the whole group sang along.

It was exciting to see many things at this event.  First, how the students all worked together to provide a very delicious meal for a large group of people.  Second, their surprising applomb with performing in Spanish after only 6 weeks here.  Third, their close relationships with their host families was palpable, and many pictures were taken, with many hugs.  Finally, it is clear this group is becoming close with each other and it’s hard to watch them disband for 6 weeks of service.  Hopefully the bonds formed here in Lima will last much longer than this short program.