Yesterday, Nestle Milo hosted their annual five-kilometer race through the city — the Milothon. Out of the near 10,000 youth that participated in the event, the winner, in my eyes, was a 17-year-old in crutches who finished the race strong.
Christian shared his message with all the youth at the 5K race that they too can overcome any obstacle.
I had the chance to meet Christian because he wanted to take a picture with one of the dance groups that performed for the event, but he didn’t have a camera. Needless to say, I was happy to take some pictures for him and send them to his email address.
What instantly captivated me about Christian was his cheerfulness and warmth, even as he told me about the naysayers along the route. He kept on keeping on despite those who pitied and ridiculed him along the path. They told him that this race wasn’t for people like him. Little did they know that the Milothon hasn’t been his only event. He also finished the Andes Marathon — yes, the full 26.2 miles — even though it took him double the time that it takes a typical runner.
Christian wanted to take a picture with Ignition Crew, a Huancayo dance group, and I happily obliged.
Physical disability is common and open here in Huancayo because most people with disabilities resort to begging in the streets. I have a feeling that Christian’s not going to be one of them. It was his social worker who told me that his parents can’t afford the physical therapy sessions he needs; his father drives a taxi and his mother washes others’ laundry. The social worker also mentioned that he has had this problem with his legs since birth; I didn’t ask, but I suspect it’s polio.
Nevertheless, you don’t see Christian asking for pity. He says that he wants to study medicine and I think Huancayo needs more doctors who have his strength, compassion and humility.
Feel Christian’s warmth yourself in this short message he wanted to share with all of you:
How have you shown enthusiasm and perseverance against a recent obstacle in your life?
It turns out, the world of blogging is hardly unlike the global community I discovered in Chile. In just these past three months that I’ve started taking blogging more seriously, I’ve forged valuable connections with inspiring people from all over the world. To keep the ball rolling and build on my energy, the universe sent some positive vibes to the Central Andes and I was ridiculously fortunate to win a contest at Chris Richardson’s Travel Blog Support website, where he provides detailed yet easy-to-understand tips and help on optimizing blogs, travel-related or otherwise.
The prize: Migration of my free hosted blog to its very own server!
I’m so excited to announce the launch of my brand-spanking-new professional blog!
To commemorate this occasion and inspired by a couple of my favorite bloggers (Diana Simon and Janine Ripper), I’ve decided to try my hand at posting twice a week starting this coming Tuesday! As I continue working out the kinks until then, have a look around at how many new plugins I’ve installed to get this blog party going and send some comments my way if you have any recommendations, suggestions or critiques of the new website. =)
– Can’t thank Chris (a.k.a. The Aussie Nomad) enough for literally making this all possible! If you ever need support with a blog transfer, I highly recommend Chris because he made it seamless and had infinite patience with my IT newbieness along the way. =)
I had the privilege of spending these past two weeks in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile, assisting at a conference that endeavored to apply research to education. The Latin American School for Education, Cognitive and Neural Sciences brought together not only recognized authorities from around the world, but also an international group of PhD candidates and new professors. They gathered in the small town of San Pedro (population: approximately 5,000) in the middle of the Atacama Desert.
San Pedro de Atacama is surrounded by miles and miles of desert.
There’s something about being in the middle of nowhere that amplifies similarities and fosters connections. We were all affected by dry skin and an unreliable Internet connection, awed by the expansiveness of the desert and the actual number of potentially visible stars in the night sky (San Pedro is one of the best places in the world to stargaze), and afflicted by the earthquake in Japan. For the purposes of the conference, the aura of fellowship encouraged thoughtful discussion about applying the learning and intellectual sharing to the real world. The atmosphere generated ideas, cultivated future research collaborations and motivated each participant to pass on new knowledge to their respective areas.
It was a beautiful example of how the strength of similarities could overcome differences and the beauty lies in getting past stereotypes to experience a true willingness to learn from and through others. There was less identification with divisive labels, such as Costa Rican versus Uruguayan, student versus faculty and scientist versus educator. Instead, the conversation shifted from a comparison about what each person could or couldn’t do to a sense of teamwork with a focus on how people could work together to achieve more than one could on his or her own. We became humbled learners who recognized the essential humanity that bonds us together as part of the same global community.
Achieving openness can be facilitated by a purpose, such as the aim of the LA School, but I believe that this phenomenon can actually happen anywhere. It just requires that you step outside of your comfort zone, outside of the categories that your mind has already formed. The surprises you’ll find can diminish fears, break barriers and, most importantly, construct a sense of connectedness that has the power to lead to positive changes.
Have you been surprised by similarities you share with another? How have you seen or experienced the power of connectedness?
P.S. I made it back home to Huancayo safely and am slowly settling back into the groove of things. Thanks for your patience!
A couple months ago, I had the chance to meet with a professor in Vancouver who grew up and studied in South America earning her Master’s before moving here. At one point in the conversation, after demonstrating my Spanish ability, I share that I would like to take some courses while in Peru, but that I have a really difficult time with academic articles in Spanish. I feel comfortable conversing with others and defending my opinions, I even recognize most of the vocabulary, but I always finish reading feeling as if I hadn’t understood.
To my surprise, she completely understood and had an unexpected (to me) explanation. How could a born-and-raised South American ever feel the same as I do about reading in Spanish? It turns out, it all has to do with writing style. In North America, there is a clear introduction outlining the body of the paper, then each issue one-by-one, and then a conclusion summing everything up. That’s the way I learned to write and communicate. On the other hand, a respected academic paper in South America can have a lot of back-and-forth arguments with only the mere suggestion of a point – one has to interpret what the author is trying to say. It was why she had a hard time translating an article written by her Peruvian colleague for a North American audience.
To me, it was a concrete example of how a circular or cyclical worldview could permeate a lifestyle and it only made me more excited about what other new ways of being and knowing I will discover.
A good friend of mine lent me his Teaching Company DVD on the Conquest of the Americas. The professor, Dr. Marshall C. Eakin, is talking about the key factors that led to European expansion and eventual colonization of the Americas – political centralization, economic dynamism (capitalism, trading), technology (ship features, astronomy, math), and culture/mentality.
This last factor was the most complex and the most interesting to me. It encompasses the development of modern science (the world should be manipulated and dominated) and the role of religion (aggressive evangelism). It became clear that it wasn’t only science promoting the premise that the natural world was ours to understand, when Dr. Eakin quoted Genesis 1:28 – “Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth and subdue it and have dominion over it.”
Both science and religion also follow a linear and progressive worldview. There is a beginning and an end, a strong belief in cause-and-effect. It’s the notion of being on a path and that one will finally get “there.” In fact, I can see how this kind of uni-directional point of view permeates many (all?) different fields and ways of knowing. It’s at least one way of understanding what’s behind these ideas: that I achieve by setting excellent goals, success = completion, the drive for “conquering” or “finishing”, or that it’s possible to have the “answer(s)”.
Dr. Eakin contrasted this with the cyclical and seasonal worldview of Asians, Africans, and Native Americans, at least at the time. Their focus was on recurring patterns, balance between different factors, and fluidity. It was less time-oriented and they valued intuition.
It’s why the idea of living and learning in another country is so appealing to me. Of course, I learn the language as best as I can and I learn about the customs and traditions, but beyond that I absorb an entirely new way of being that affects how people express themselves, how decisions are made, how relationships function, and so much more.
"Así como la arquitectura corrige las incomodidades de la naturaleza, la literatura corrige las incomodidades de la realidad." -- Alfredo Bryce Echenique, Peruvian author
As architecture improves on the inconveniences of nature, literature improves on the inconveniences of reality.
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Thank you so much for stopping by and welcome to "What Little Things"! I'm a Canadian Internet marketing specialist, editor, and translator living in Peru. If you want to get in touch, leave a comment on one of my posts or head over to the Contact page. Talk soon! =) -- Samantha