This past week I reached out to my social network to inform everyone of my…
Today in New York City I finally had the feeling that the seasons have turned. The air is cool and crisp and I might reach for that extra blanket tonight when I tuck in. It’s the sort of evening that made me brew a cup of hot tea and take a moment to slow down and reflect. I reflected on my life and where I am – Where I am going and why. During my moment of introspection I came to the realization that I have not shared with you a story about a service trip I took to Peru three years ago and how important that trip was to shaping who I am today.[Side note: This is a longer than normal post… so bear with me. I will make this a theme over the next couple of posts and we can dive into some of the new ways the web solving the problem of global poverty in some unique ways after this introduction. Feel free to send me some suggestions for companies that are helping out in a web2.0 way.]
October 2004: I was a full time MBA student at Villanova University and with this status I was fortunate enough to have semester breaks free. As an undergrad I looked forward to these breaks as an opportunity to travel to exotic places and test the limits of my liver. As this break approached I knew I wanted a little more from my time away from the classroom and I was aware that Villanova enabled their students to participate in service trips. This was a much better use of my time and with this new chance at fall break I was determined to take advantage of the opportunity.
I put in my application to participate on a trip unsure of how my status as an MBA student would impact my eligibility. As it turned out they were happy to have me. Chulucanas, Peru was the destination for our group of fourteen:
- 1 Adult Leader
- 2 Student Leaders
- 9 Undergrads
- 2 Grad Students
Peru is a country rich in history and struggling with poverty. A comprehensive analysis of poverty in Latin America concluded that â€œfully 50% of Peruvian families were below the poverty line and 25% were below the destitution level.â€ [Source: The Library of Congress Country Studies; CIA World Factbook]
My selection to this group as one of three â€œadultsâ€ became more evident when we learned that the group that traveled to the site the semester before had their money and passports stolen in a roadside hijacking. Fun, huh? I should also point out here that once the community found out about the incident they banded together, hit the radio station, and with the increased social pressure the thief’s returned their passports. Needless to say this was not a place you wanted to be foolish or take chances.
The Goal of our Trip: Most simply, it was to help educate the locals in a new way to build stoves. I would say that overarching goal of the Villanova service trips to countries like Peru and Ecuador is to expose students from an expensive private institution to the world outside of ritzy main line Philadelphia â€“ but let’s table that discussion for now.
Stoves, huh, what? Here is a problem with rural Peru. Nearly all of the people are living in some form of poverty. They live in tiny huts with tin roofs and their meals (if they are lucky enough to have something to eat that day) are cooked in their living rooms over an open fire. Day after day the internal pollution from wood burning causes serious respiratory illness and a decrease in quality of life. The children end up with asthma, etc. On top of that an open fire uses 3x more wood, is not very efficient and an increased fire hazard.
Here are 4 short movies to summarize our trip. If you only have time to watch one, watch #2. After you are done I would encourage you to leave a comment with what you think. Let’s chat!
Travel to Peru From Villanova
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.kendallschoenrock.com/blog/flash/peru1.swf" height="365" width="425" /]
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.kendallschoenrock.com/blog/flash/peru2.swf" height="365" width="425" /]
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.kendallschoenrock.com/blog/flash/peru3.swf" height="365" width="425" /]
Visiting Lima & Trip Home
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.kendallschoenrock.com/blog/flash/peru4.swf" height="365" width="425" /]
Let me also make it clear that I embrace the fact that none of us needed to travel further than a few miles into west Philadelphia to see poverty. The poor walk among us and this story is not told to boast of a trip to South America, but rather to express how this trip made global poverty tangible to me. I believe the goal of the trip was to expose 14 people who are fortunate enough to go to a school like Villanova about global poverty so that later in life when they are in a situation to make major change possible they have a tangible experience to reflect upon. Let’s put it in perspective – if you’re reading this, you are better off than most.