J.T. McAllister, `19
At the end of the day today, I thought of a quote that stuck with me because of its both controversial and interesting implications. It went something along the lines of; “When faced with a difficult situation, there are three possible actions you should undertake. The first thing you should try and do is the right thing, if not the second is the wrong thing, and lastly nothing. Today was an eventful day that began with an 8:30 role call at the school. We all gathered there and split into two teams. One was assigned to paint bookshelves, and the other was assigned the task of digging holes and hammering stakes into the ground for creating a fence. We worked for about 3 hours, and stopped earlier because we all grew very tired in the intense sunlight and high altitude. Despite the unforgiving terrain, everyone worked to the best of their ability and painted three shelves, and planted all the stakes in the ground around the garden.
After this, Oliver, Will, and I all returned to our house, where a filling lunch awaited us. Most days we would then head to our rooms to rest, but instead we went outside and played with our three-year old brother, Yamil, for the better part of an hour. Although we did not understand around 60% of what he said, the challenge was taken on with unrelenting optimism.
Around three o clock, all six of us reunited at the school, and received instructions for a game that would take the better part of 2 hours. We split into two teams and were given a hand-drawn map of of the village of Piscacucho, and were told to head to four stations marked on the map, where instructions would be given as to what we would need to do at each one.
This part of the day is where the quote started to make more sense to me. One of the tasks required of us was to find a local who spoke both Quecha and Spanish, and to have them translate three words written in Quecha to Spanish. It would have been entirely possible for us to return to our homestays and ask our homestay parents for a translation, however at this point I began to consider the quote. The first thing we should do should be the right thing, the second the wrong thing, and third nothing. We all knew the right thing to do was to find a local and ask for help. Strangely, the right thing to do also felt like the wrong thing to do. The majority of the locals at this point in time were working in the field, and we did not think that interrupting their work that fed their families for our “scavenger hunt” was a good idea.
As we came closer to a gentleman working in the field, we nervously approached and asked if he might help us. To our surprise his face lit up with delight and curiosity, as he happily agreed to translate for us. Alex, Will, and I left the interaction feeling an overwhelming sense of appreciation and wonder for the incredible hospitality we had been granted. The rest of the stations included activities of all sorts such as catching guinea pigs under a table, hoop racing with a rod, and taking a picture at the entrance to the Inca Trail. Upon returning to the school and discussing the beautiful countryside we had seen, helpful locals, and new experiences, we each drew different conclusions. I realized that through spending time with people in village like Piscacucho I am learning just as much about myself and my community as I am about my host family and the community of Piscacucho.