Not in *insert urban setting* anymore

Some people are comforted by stillness. And to some extent, I am as well. I am a true introvert. Leave me alone for a few days with a fun project, and I will be the most joyful gregarious version of myself. I love urban life, as well. I love being still amongst the bustle—life happening around me while I take it slow, all the while maintaining the option to engage if needed. Though it makes me uncomfortable, I also think I occasionally need to withdraw to a slower life. I need to let my racing thoughts stand in contrast to my surrounding.


This trip to Peru definitely made me confront myself, recognizing some of my strengths and coming to grips with many of my insecurities. I don’t need to be all things, so I am ok knowing there are areas I will not excel. I’m more concerned with identifying the parts of myself that are holding me back—and confronting them.

Now, since this is a design and travel blog, I’ll try not to get too sappy. Consider this your warning, though, that the next few posts might get a little existential.

I’ll start this series of posts with an introduction to the intention of the trip. Back in December, a colleague of mine at Judson asked if I’d be interested in co-leading a group of design and psychology students to a non-profit in rural Peru. Paz y Esperanza is an organization working throughout Latin America, alongside individuals, families and communities in poverty, so that they can live with dignity, free from violence and injustice. They provide social and legal services for the most vulnerable. Our trip would be to a girls home in a rural village outside of Huánuco in central Peru. The girls in the home were removed from their homes by order of the court and placed in the home. Many are survivors of domestic and sexual abuse. What we would be doing exactly was unclear—something we would work with the staff of the home to develop. Goals would include facilitating hope and healing amongst the residents and a unique, hands-on learning experience for our students. As someone who ignites with ambiguity, ideas began to build within me. I envisioned developing an ephemeral memorial, a cathartic collaborative project between design students, psychology students, and the residents of the girl’s home. This seemed like a natural end with the expertise, skills, and talents on the table. In the end, holding onto this idea would prove to frustrate me throughout the planning process, but I shouldn’t get ahead of myself.

Over the next few months, our fluctuating team met once a week to prepare for our trip. We lost and gained a few team members along the way, but in the end we had a great group, most of whom I hadn’t met previously and would have the pleasure of getting to know. This trip may not have been what I expected, but I am proud of what we accomplished, and I’m excited to share it with you all.

*spoiler* We didn’t see any live llamas :(