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WHS students (from left) Riley Harrell, Ana Boesiger, Maddie Rappl and Emily Colgan stand above Machu Picchu, one of the highlights of their summer trip to Peru. Students traveled in June with WHS Spanish Instructors Cass Didier and Susan Dinsmore-Talbott.

WHS Spanish teachers chaperone life-changing experience for 4 students

Mrs. Didier reflects on June trip to Peru

Four Wahoo High School students (Ana Boesigner, Emily Colgan, Riley Harrell and Maddie Rappl) and Spanish teachers Mrs. DT and myself, Mrs. Didier, crossed climbing Machu Picchu off our bucket list this summer! We left for Peru in mid-June spending seven glorious, life-changing days (plus 2 days for travel—nine days total) in the country before returning home.

This was an incredible experience for our students. I greatly appreciate our administration and community being on board and allowing us to travel internationally with students. The individual growth and learning that occurs on such a trip simply cannot be experienced in a traditional four-walled classroom.

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Guinea Pig, a Peruvian delicacy.

Our group represented Wahoo and Nebraska very well by making friends everywhere we went. The students were such excellent travelers: they tasted several new dishes (even if they looked and/or smelled unappealing) and used Spanish whenever they could. They had such a great “let’s go” attitude the entire time. As their chaperone it was super rewarding to watch these students leave their comfort zones, beginning at the airport, and become totally immersed in the Peruvian culture.

“You could’ve told me I had to spend another three months there and I would’ve been completely ok with it. Wanderlust is an incurable disease and I definitely have a terrible case of it now,” Emily Colgan commented.

Maddie Rappl added, “It’s culture shock and it’s amazing!”

A brief recap of our itinerary:

Day 1: We arrived in the country’s capital and most populated city, Lima, around midnight. We met our full group and tour guide. The following morning we woke up and explored the city including: a museum visit to briefly discuss and view Peruvian culture prior to the Incan Empire, a tour of several cathedrals and underground catacombs, and we enjoyed our first taste of the local cuisine.

Day 2: We departed for historic Cusco, elevation 11,152’ (twice as high as Denver!). Here the group rallied through elevation sickness and toured our first Incan archaeological sites. Wow!

Day 3: LLAMAS AND ALPACAS, OH MY! We toured a nearby farm where it’s safe to say everyone in the entire group experienced 30 minutes of pure bliss hanging out with two of nature’s most beloved animals: the alpaca and llama. Many selfies and giggles were had. We also spent time at a local market bartering for gifts to bring home.

And, for dinner we were able to sample our buddy, the alpaca, as well as the highly regarded guinea pig. Yum? ;-)

Day 4: We departed for Aguas Calientes (the town nearest Machu Picchu) via train. Upon arrival we immediately headed to Machu Picchu and enjoyed a guided tour of the site! It was a very emotional experience for all. AND SO AWESOME!

Day 5: Following the advice of our tour guide, which was “the best way to experience Machu Picchu is to get lost in it,” we did just that. The group arrived at the site early to ensure ample time for everyone to explore all that is Machu Picchu at our own pace.

Afterward, the group continued to become immersed in the culture by participating in a fútbol/soccer game with the locals. Losers were asked to buy the opponents Inca Kola, a popular local soft drink. Naturally our group purchased Inca Kola for our new Peruvian friends.

Day 6: Rafting the Urubamba River! What a great finale to our trip! You know you’ve successfully bonded when you can easily maneuver a raft together for 12 kilometers without losing anyone. : )

Day 7: We said goodbye to our new friends from Las Vegas and Cincinnati as well as our wonderful tour guide, Gustavo, to return to Lima and board our flight home.

Additionally, I asked each participant to answer a few questions as a reflection on the trip.

  1. What was the best moment of the entire trip?

The cathedral because the architecture was so cool – Riley
Machu Picchu, of course and playing soccer with locals – Maddie
The alpacas – Ana
To be completely immersed in a culture – Emily

  1. What is something interesting about Peru that the average person wouldn’t know?

How friendly everyone is – Maddie
The Incas did not refer to themselves as Incas. Their leader was “the Inca” – Ana
Dogs everywhere! – Emily
Riding the buses in Lima is insane – Riley

  1. What did you learn about yourself?

I can survive a long time without texting and Snapchatting people – Riley
To appreciate more, to appreciate everything I have as simple as water and shoes that fit – Maddie
I knew more Spanish than I thought I did – Ana
How small I really am in relation to the world. There’s 10 million other lives in Lima alone, worried about their own problems, happy about their own successes . . . it's very humbling – Emily

  1. What advice do you have for other students considering going on this trip?

My advice is to do this trip. I never even thought about traveling to Peru until the idea came up. I wanted to travel to touristy places like Paris or tropical islands. This was nothing like I imagined. I plan on going again sometime in my life. – Maddie
Enjoy the culture as much as possible – Ana
Learn how to barter and take the hike up to the Sun Gate because you never know when you’ll be back. The views are amazing! – Riley

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Mrs. Didier playing soccer with the locals.

We plan to take another group in summer 2017 and then every other year after that. At this point in time, the only requirement to travel is to be enrolled in a Spanish class. This year’s trip cost a little under $3000 for all transportation, including round-trip airfare from Omaha, all lodging, all meals and all excursions. Interested students should see Mrs. Didier for details.


WHS Spanish teachers chaperone life-changing experience for 4 students

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