THROWBACK THURSDAY: ADVENTURES IN PERU
Global University is made possible thanks to the generous support of G Adventures, our loyal AORE365 Partner. G Adventures organizes small group tours to exciting destinations all over the world. Visit their website when you're ready to plan your next global travel adventure and get the support you need to curate a stress-free, enriching experience that brings you closer to the people, places, and cultures that you visit.
INTENTIONAL PLANNING: THE SECRET TO GLOBAL ADVENTURE EDUCATION
Learn more about Global University 2019. And be sure to visit our newsroom and social media pages to follow along with trip participants as they embark on this transformative learning expedition in Costa Rica later this month.
In June of 2016, AORE and G Adventures partnered to provide Global University, a unique professional development course in the stunning outdoor environment of Peru. Our group of 16 visited Lima, Cusco, Inca ruins, and trekked the Lares Trail over the 9-day adventure. This summit supported AORE's strategic pillars of advocacy, relationship engagement, and education through this unforgettable adventure. Our shared experiences, reflection, and discussion allowed for invaluable networking among industry leaders and sparked ideas we hope to bring to each of our home programs.
How do you provide the greatest learning outcomes for an experience? Intentional planning is key. And it was a key ingredient of the partnership in Peru.
On this adventure, as on all G Adventures trips, local guides educated our group. They were able to connect us with the people by speaking multiple languages (English, Spanish, and Quechua to name a few). They explained the history and cultural importance of both ancient and modern sites, from downtown Lima to the misty heights of Machu Picchu.
The guides had a Plan B and C when things needed to change. They also dealt with various illnesses in our group when they unexpectedly arose and used their support systems within the country to problem-solve on a daily basis. Their experience and sense of humor allowed them to take everything in stride when mini-crises arose, which is bound to happen as a dozen travelers enter an unfamiliar place (especially one with different cuisines and high altitudes).
Our guides allowed for some flow and flexibility in our plans so that the group could concentrate on soaking up new knowledge, sharing thoughts, and brainstorming ideas. During the Lares Trail expedition, our guides Raymer and Omar were even able to arrange a visit to the family home of the head porter so we could catch a glimpse into the lives of the mountain community of Cuncani. The family of four lives in a one-room mud hut and keeps guinea pigs (called “cuy” in the local language) under the bed, to be used later as food. We were grateful to the family for welcoming us so warmly into their home and allowing us to ask candid questions about how their culture and how live day-to-day.
When travelers visit developing countries, they often feel the need to help. We see poverty, kids struggling to get an education or even to survive in their harsh environments, and families who may not eat every day. But what we see may be different than how the communities we visit see it. After all, who are we to say what they need? And so, it takes intentional planning to build sustainable communities; it takes communication and long-term relationship building to develop trust. For example, G Adventures supports the nonprofit Planeterra in its efforts to really listen and work with communities who are struggling in order to find a solution together.
Our group visited several Planeterra projects. One was a weaving co-op that has empowered the women of the community to learn traditional yam spinning, dying, and weaving techniques in order to sell colorful, intricate textiles to tourists, including us. The community is planning to use the funds from these sales to build a school. Connecting with these women, learning about their craft and the various patterns each community traditionally wears, and practicing the local custom of negotiating our purchase prices were some of my favorite experiences of the entire trip. Witnessing these women’s strong connection to and appreciation for nature (developed over thousands of years) has helped me realize the profound respect I have for this set of values and since then, I have reflected on how I’d like to live by these values every day.
In our programs back home, we often strive for outcomes such as group development, fitness, exploration, personal challenge, and communication. These and many more may be realized during global adventures, with careful intentional planning and relationship building with local educators. Together we can develop global ambassadors through adventure education.
*Photos and article by Jennifer Hopper. This story was originally featured in the August 2016 issue of AORE’s Partner News publication. Jen is Assistant Director of Outdoor Excursion Programs at University of California, Riverside.