My experience in Cusco was amazing. While I did encounter several difficulties, from sickness to language struggles, and just being homesick, I am so grateful to have had this opportunity to experience a different culture. I visited places that I have always wanted to travel to, including Lake Titicaca and Machu Picchu, and I explored all over the Sacred Valley. I have also advanced my Spanish speaking skills and became immersed in Peruvian culture by staying with a local host family and volunteering at a shelter for young mothers. This experience has changed my outlook on life and helped me realize what is important. The people in Peru are a lot less materialistic than those in the U.S., and the new perspective that I have gained has changed my view of consumerism. Additionally, my volunteer project was amazing and I absolutely loved working with the kids and mothers at Casa Mantay. It was initially really shocking and sad to see these young girls caring for babies of their own, but the love and support that Casa Mantay gives them is really beautiful and I am grateful to have been a part of that.
While I was in Cusco, I conducted several interviews for my capstone. I did some initial research on healthcare in Peru, and using what I learned through this research and also my own observations, I wrote interview questions. I first interviewed the sub-director of Casa Manaty, and I recorded what she said. I also interviewed 6 moms at the shelter, but I was unable to record them, so I created questions that they could answer in short sentences and I wrote as they spoke. In Cusco, I realized that natural remedies are very popular there and a significant part of the way people view healthcare, so I interviewed the mom of my host family about natural remedies and her views of healthcare in Peru. Now that I am back in the U.S., I will begin the process of transcribing and translating my interviews so that they can be used in my project. I will also do a lot more background research and reflect on my observations in Cusco to finish my capstone.