Dear Peru Summer-2016 SST group
(Aka: Todo Angamos!)
Here’s the things I couldn’t say to you on the bus to the airport, because I was just too choked up.
We absolutely loved being in this crazy Peruvian “boat” with you. You were a fabulous group. We’re so grateful for the ways you made things easy on us, and for the myriad of things we’ve learned from you.
For 3 months we ran around the country together, ate too many meals to count, talked about bodily functions in great detail (shockingly, sometimes at the same time), laughed, cried, prayed, sang, asked hard questions. You shared your souls with us, your fears, your joys, your health concerns. You let us parent you. And in turn, you helped us parent our sons. We had a great relationship, and we’re so grateful.
Here’s some qualities we noticed about each of you.
You are resilient, and flexible. You try new things. You are kind to each other, and our Peruvian neighbors. You listen first, and speak second. You are conscientious, and turn things in on time. You did your readings and journals, and came to class ready to discuss. You listen to lecturers and leaders, you pay attention. You care about historical events that matter, and you feel deep empathy for the pain that has ripped through Peru’s beautiful people. Your hearts bleed for poverty, for injustice, for the marginalized and down-trodden. It’s important to you that gender and racial barriers be torn down, you want all people to have a voice. You care about the earth. And you use song to vent your passionate emotions. Boy, can you all sing.
In fact, as I was reflecting today on your collective group qualities, I felt a great sense of hope for the United States. Of course we are all on pins and needles in light of the current election, and are holding our breath as we wait for the results this November. But I realized that the things that matter to you have nothing to do with the political side that frightens us. In fact, if the U.S. has raised a group of young people like you, there are a lot of reasons to be hopeful. You are the generation that can save us. You’re the ones who can clean up these messes we’re in, with violence and pollution choking us, materialism drowning us, with disillusionment and cynicism abounding. It’s your qualities of optimism, compassion, willingness to work hard and respond to challenges creatively that can be the answer.
But for now, reflect on your Peru experience, and enjoy re-integrating into American life. Throw your paper right into the toilet! Drink water from the tap, have your hot shower and feel gratitude. Hug your parents, oh how they missed you. Share your stories, your pictures. Remember how brave you were. How brave you are. And when it’s your turn to lead in your communities, draw on this SST experience–this beautiful boat. It has been a great teacher for you. (It’s been a great teacher for us, too.)
We love you, and we miss having you all in one room already. Please keep in touch.
Kathryn and Kris, Jonah and Zachary