I went on STRIVE's trip to Peru in the summer of 2017, and I had an exceptionally energizing, memorable, and fulfilling experience. As a rising junior in high school at the time, I was a bit tentative preparing for my trip to Peru, as there were so many question marks surrounding what my three weeks there would be like. Would I make friends with the other kids on the trip? Would I enjoy the service and cultural activities? Would I survive running at altitude?? ;) To my delight, I quickly discovered upon my arrival that essentially every aspect of the trip I was nervous about were actually the very ones that would end up being most fulfilling to me. The running opportunities were so well designed to fit the desires/ambitions of everyone on the trip, carefully enabling us to do as much activity as we desired in such a high altitude region. The service experiences were diverse, well thought out, and intentionally selected/designed (everything from putting up fencing at an animal shelter to working on Incan ruins!). And of course, I met the nicest, most energetic, and most lovable friends along the way. :)
I could go on and on about the magnitude, variety, and quality of the experiences I had with STRIVE, but I want to most importantly point out that the reason I had such an overwhelmingly positive and meaningful trip was because of the leaders of the program, Tyler and Nic. Spending several weeks without anyone you know in an entirely different part of the world is kind of a big thing to do as a high schooler. Both program directors are such genuinely caring, sincere, passionate, and down to earth people. I really feel as though their philosophy about the program set the groundwork onto which every other component of the trip could kind of fall into place. They know how to keep things fun (soo fun!), and they also know how to guide everyone towards appreciating what matters most. You can trust that over the course of the trip the STRIVE directors will guide you through not only an amazing series of once in a lifetime experiences and memories, but also guide you *towards* a fuller, richer version of yourself.
I truly feel as though I returned from Peru in 2017 feeling more fulfilled than ever -- as a runner, as a citizen of the world, and as a gal looking to have a blast during her summer vacation. I know that my experiences from STRIVE will always be etched into my memory as a fabulous part of my high school years!
What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
The most nerve-wracking moment was on the first day of the four-day hike to Machu Picchu. The entire group had paused hiking at the side of this rock face so that we could eat lunch, and after eating, a group of interns and high schoolers, plus our hiking guide decided that they would climb up the top of the rock face for fun - and I decided that I'd mine as well go along with them. About halfway up the rock face, I started to get really nervous about how high up I was, and for a while was kind of frozen in place, unsure what to do next. Through the support of my friends, our guide, and everyone else up there with me, I was able to make it to the top! I might have gotten a little bit nervous but the view -- and the feeling of having accomplished something I thought I might not be able to do -- was totally worth it :)