Motivated by Compassion: Prepping for Peru

Motivated by Compassion: Prepping for Peru

Sientate, por favor,” I tell my 11-year-old furbaby, Atti. She sits as I’ve asked, plopping her scruffy butt on the floor and wagging her tail– not because she understands Spanish, but because she recognizes what I want from my intonation and tone. Still, I smile at her. She lets me practice my burgeoning language skills without judgement and always offers an encouraging tail wag.

In this moment spent with my little dog, I am reminded of my reasons for wanting to participate in Greenheart Travel’s Teach in Peru Program. They are the same reasons I became a teacher and continue to be a student. Above all, I want to connect with the world. Granted, in this case I’m only connecting to my silly little mutt, but the principle remains.

lisa and attiI studied English in college and study Spanish today to be both teacher and student of language. Language connects us because it allows us to communicate who we are. We can communicate ideas and emotions and spread understanding and compassion.

While studying for my BA from the University of Oregon, I studied abroad in Querétaro, Mexico for five weeks. It was my first time out of the country, and I definitely experienced culture shock. Coming from a far-left, tree-hugging, counterculture-embracing town like Eugene, Oregon and being tossed into a conservative, strictly Catholic, oh-gosh-I-wish-I-could-speak-better-Spanish homestay was difficult. I struggled at times to understand not only the language, but the people and the culture. And yet, I wanted more.

To be truly empathetic and compassionate, to really be able to understand the world and not just the tiny portion of it that is your college, your hometown, or state, or country, religion, political views, language, and everything that makes us who we are, we need to clamber out of our comfortable space into the unknown.

Today, I teach English as a Second Language in California, one of the most diverse places on our planet. I have deep respect for my students and cherish the pieces of their culture and language that I am exposed to while teaching them. I know it will make me a better teacher to experience a new country and language like my students have, but, truthfully, that’s not the real reason I want to travel and teach with Greenheart.

I want to learn. I want to teach. I want to share my culture and language and experience Peruvian culture and perfect mi español. The real reason I joined the fellow adventurers of Greenheart Travel is that I am motivated by compassion; I want to be a better human being and connect with the world.

So here I find myself staring down at the big brown eyes of my dog– whom I will miss terribly (oh, and my husband too!)– while I am in Peru for three months, and I practice my Spanish to prepare for my trip teaching and learning with Greenheart Travel.

“Ven aquí. Vámanos!” I tell her. “Come here. Let’s go!”


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