Mid Course Memories

by Tsering, Civic Semester Staff

Today, we marked our first day of midcourse activities here in Urubamba. It is hard to believe that we are almost halfway through our Tufts Civic Semester here. Keeping with the themes of Review, Reflect and Gratitude, we started the morning off with a Metta meditation-giving loving kindness to self and others. We then went down memory lane reviewing our journey from the moment we landed in Urubamba to this moment, over freshly made chai. From our first awkward encounters with each other, to navigating the narrow streets of Urubamba, to cooking for our first meal, to our first tuk tuk rides, to the cold hail of Paru Paru, to BBQ dinners over the bonfire and asking what leadership means, and how does one fulfill one’s civic duties, the activity ended in loud laughter of good memories underlined by personal growth and development. How far we have come indeed! Reflecting back on our course so far, students connected with the words of Robert Frost’s poem ‘The road not taken’ and sat with the lines in reflection, “ Two roads diverged in the wood and I- Took the one less travelled by. And that has made all the difference.” The students re-read the letter they had written to self, reviewed how far they had come, reflected on how they want this journey to impact their lives in the future, and realigned their personal goals with a new letter to self that will be read again at the end of the course.

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The Power of Norma

by Sahana, Civic Semester Participant

When visiting Paru Paru, we were constantly surrounded by kids. They became our source of joy while facing the cold and illnesses. We would braid hair, dance together, and play football. But what was most memorable, was scrolling through everyone’s camera rolls. Norma and Andrea, two sisters aged 11 and 8, would avidly look through our photos and ask questions about the people and locations they were seeing. When I explained some photos of Malta (where the country was and its culture), their father came closer and started looking at the photos too. In that moment, I realised that Norma’s, Andrea’s, and their family’s way of seeing the world, was dependent on the visitors staying in Paru Paru. They learned about our experiences and knowledge, just as we learned about their culture. Even small things, like writing 1-10 in our various languages was valuable.

I was reminded of a quote from The Shape Of Water: “Time is but a river flowing from our past” and our world is but an amalgamation of our experiences.

Our languages, families, cultures, friends are all so different, but they shape the individual. We often go through experiences, gain knowledge from them, and then apply it, but the impact those experiences have on our perspectives and realities can sometimes be lost. It’s easy to forget that each and every one of our memories have an impact. Be it rainy afternoons, lazy Sundays, or disastrous boat rides (boys, that one’s for you). Everything we’ve done, whether it’s forgotten or not, is a piece in the puzzle of what makes us, us.

The way the girls viewed our photos and lives, made those experiences more meaningful. To see the impact that our everyday life could have on someone else’s perspective of the world was something all of us had never encountered. Looking at images with Norma and Andrea allowed me to see my camera roll in a different light. Instead of it being a collection of 4,000 photos, most of which is spam, it’s 4,000 experiences that took me across the globe and created the person I am today. Now, these photos are not only mine, they are a part of Norma’s and Andrea’s view of the world. Their curiosity was both profound and humbling and definitely something I’m still wrapping my head around. So, to Norma and Andrea, if you ever read this, know that I am incredibly grateful for the time we had together. And to anyone headed to Peru in need of adorable hair stylists, there are two wise, little prodigies in the mountains of Paru Paru.

Originally posted here

Made in Tikka

by Fatima, Civic Semester Participant

I don’t think anyone knew what to expect for our first organization visit, but when the van pulled over at a small door with women waiting for us with altitude tea and wool spoolies, we knew that we were working with some serious talent. We spent nearly 5 hours speaking with Guadalupe about her craft, seeing the process of natural dye and making pulseras, all while playing with the guinea pigs, the llama, Coco the lamb and the two cats. We learned that this co-op was not just made by women, but for women. It is a way for Lupe to embrace her culture and identity, and an opportunity for her to showcase all that was passed down through her family for generations. She told us her fears about her traditions dying out and the dangers that the new airport being built nearby could bring. But she also told us her aspirations, how she believes that she can give her daughter the life that she couldn’t live and how she is proud to be able to expand what was once a small family-run affair, into a thriving business. Between taking care of her daughter, working on her trade and dealing with the financial hit from Covid, Lupe also managed to teach us how all that is in Tikka was made. Here, the phrase “made with a mother’s hands” takes on a new meaning, as these women put much more than just their love and passion into it, it also carries their pride. So, if you ever happen to see Tsering’s new laptop bag or Yazan’s poncho, or the one he bought for his father, just know, it was made in Tikka.

Originally posted here