by Allison Goursky
World heritage may not be a concept that is familiar to most people.
The gist of it is that some places are so physically or culturally important that they should be preserved for the entire world to enjoy.
I was fortunate enough so see one of these sites in June, through a class at the University of Minnesota.
Machu Picchu was built by the Incas, an ancient civilization that was overtaken by the Spanish.
Seeing how advanced the people were and the innovations that they used was absolutely breath taking.
From setting up terraces on mountainsides for easy farming, to designing a waste water system that has no signs of being an afterthought, the Incas never cease to amaze.
Biodiversity is another term that most people haven’t heard of. It refers the amount and type of life that is in an area.
In Peru, we were fortunate enough to stay in the Amazon jungle for two weeks, the most biologically diverse place on the planet.
The way everything grew on top of each other was breath taking.
Everything was also extremely adaptive to its environment.
There are trees there that will “walk” towards sunlight.
I think everyone in life needs a sense of pride; for me that pride has developed through studying abroad and seeing amazing places that I never thought possible.
I feel like the idea of studying abroad seems out of reach for some reason. I know it did to me before I took that leap of faith.
There is a quote that sticks with me, “Wherever you go, there you are.”
Take yourself out of your normal environment where everything is familiar to you and all you have left is yourself.
There is no greater hope in life than to know yourself and what you want out of life.
Going to Peru made me a better person. I learned a new sense of compassion, because the people there always treated me as a guest, never as a foreigner.
My Spanish was so poor that I was forced to mime most things to get by.
I wish that all people had a chance just once to experience being the outsider, being lost and not having the safety net that we are born with in the United States.
It teaches you to appreciate what you have, but to always strive for more.
I graduated from Coon Rapids High School in 2005.
It took me a while to determine what I wanted to do with my life.
I took a few years off school after I graduated before going back to college.
I started off at a community college because I lacked direction.
It was from there that I stumbled across my first study abroad experience.
I did a semester at an art school in Florence, Italy. I lived in a first world country but also lived sustainably.
After that experience I started studying environmental science and policy.
I hope to either gain employment making environmental laws stricter here in the U.S. or to work abroad making living conditions better for communities that lack education and other resources.
I am also considering doing the Peace Corps as a master’s degree program after I graduate this December.
Editor’s note: Allison Goursky is a Coon Rapids resident now studying at the University of Minnesota. This is an account of her experiences during a study abroad program in Peru this summer.