Location: Cusco

Today–only the fourth day into our Peruvian adventure– Go Beyond delivered us a remarkable and unforgettable experience here in Cuzco. In the morning, our hotel treated us to a serving of warm eggs and tea–especially favored in the cold Peruvian mornings–and set us off with high spirits to Santa Teresa. Santa Teresa, as we soon learned, is a home for men, women, and children with mental and physical disabilities and proved to be much more of a challenge than any one of us expected. When we first arrived, the nuns gave us a tour of the area. The entire complex was painted baby blue with smooth tile walkways in between buildings and from the looks of it, was already a very high-spirited place. When we were showed to the patients of the hospital, we were instantly showered with strong hugs and screams of joy, which proved to be very normal. The children immediately offered to come to play with them, which began in many forms including coloring, playing with Legos, and throwing rubber balls at the ceiling. The children were all so enthusiastic to see us with them and, soon, we were excited to see them too. After some time, we went to eat lunch. However, it was not us that was going to be eating. Instead, we volunteers were tasked with feeding the patients who were unable to feed themselves, some of which could not sit up themselves either. We were all assigned our posts, and it soon became apparent that the job we had come to fulfill required excessive amounts of compassion, empathy, and patients, all of which was extremely hard to supply, as situations like these were infrequent in our life. We finished feeding the patients and started getting ready to leave the complex, but to our surprise, all the patients and staff were very saddened at our departure, and–even more surprising– we were sad to leave as well. As we drove away from the large front gate, I marveled at the growth that our group had experienced in a single day. The amount of empathy, compassion, and acceptance that we had realized in ourselves in one day was indeed an enormous milestone in all of our lives, and I’m sure that we are all eager for our adventure tomorrow.