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On the final night of their stay in Cusco, the 16 students and four chaperones of the “Trap Squad,” named for the prominence of the trapezoid in Incan architecture, gathered in the hotel lobby to recap the transformative events of the previous week and get up to speed on their travel plans for the remaining days ahead.

“That feels like it was a month ago!”

When discussing the events of their first few days in Peru — highlighted by getting to know their tour guide, Andres Cordero, visiting ancient ruins, and seeing the night sky of the southern hemisphere at the Cusco Planetarium — the students, in unison, exclaimed how long ago those first few days seemed to be. 

That is the nature of travel — time moves more slowly. The group’s days were full of new tastes, sounds, smells, information, and challenges as they traversed varying geography, urban and rural settings, and generations of history.

Deep Knowledge

Now in its fifth year, this year’s trip to Peru had nearly 100 students organized into six groups of students engaged in a variety of activities focused on art, agriculture, anthropology, architecture, and archeology. On any given day, Nueva’s freshman class were spread out across the country engaged in a cultural and geographical immersion that was awe-inspiring.

One student said, “After visiting Peru, I realized that this country was very proud of the native culture. Cusco had a lot of Spanish colonial architecture, but everywhere in the city, you could still see signs of the native culture. We were able to help restore terraces in the Sacred Valley — the locals really put effort into keeping this old culture alive.”14 Peru Slideshow DSC06881

Another traveler said, “I love Peru. This is the place that I can see myself living in the future. The people in Peru are so passionate and kind. They are satisfied with their lives and they live with nature.”

Over the course of the ten-day trip, students have the opportunity to completely immerse themselves in the rich and storied culture of the Andean people.

“It was really cool to see how indigenous people integrated both ancient traditions and modern technologies into their lives,” said one member of the class. “For example, the women at the weaving collective said that they use modern shampoo most of the time, but if they want their hair to look really nice, they use the old-fashioned technique of creating shampoo from the roots of native plants.”

Learning Beyond Content

One powerful aspect of trips program at Nueva ­— clear to parents, teachers, and students ­— is the personal growth and maturity that occurs regardless of content or grade level. Ninth-grade dean and trip organizer Hillary Freeman said, “The closeness and interdependency of days of travel together forces positive relationships not otherwise obtainable.”

Traveling together develops friendships, new and old. Before setting off on trips, there is a tradition of faculty members taking a quiet moment to explain to their fellow travelers that, while on the road, and often in the years that follow, they will come to see each other as a family.

Reflecting on this aspect of the trip, ninth grader Stephanie S. said, “Every year since first grade the grade-wide trips have provided a perfect opportunity for me to strengthen my previous friendships, create new bonds with people I didn't know before, and grow closer to old friends.

“This year in particular, when I was placed into a group with only one person that I would have considered a friend before we boarded the plane to Peru, I was extremely nervous about who I was going to travel around the country with. I now recognize how lucky I was to be part of such a kind, fun, and supportive group and have come out of the trip with so many new friends.”

Transformative Effect of a Global Perspective

Back in Lima, on the eve of the group's return to the Bay Area, the Trap Squad gathered after sunset on a sea cliff over-looking the Pacific Ocean. Sitting a circle, with some many sad to be leaving, others eager to return home, and all thrilled for the last meal in their near future, students listened to the reflections of their Peruvian host and new friend, Andres.

19 Peru Slideshow DSC07297Andres said, “Through our travels together, your questions, your open hearts and support of one another as a group, you have brought a lot of light and faith to the adults on this trip.

“Please go home with rejuvenated, patient, loving attitudes to those that are around you no matter how boring their boundaries are, the color skin, or the role that they play in your life. Bring your curiosity and openness to their day.

“Thank you very much, new soldiers of love, don’t forget the beautiful days you spent here together.  Don’t forget the loving effort your teachers put towards you to help you be the best you can be.”


By Jim Morrison, VLP Director

May 9, 2018



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