The Beauty of Human Connection

Hey there, I’m Carla, a senior at Bishop O'Connell. Growing up in a household where Spanish was spoken as frequently as English, I've always felt a deep connection to my Latin-American roots. So, when the opportunity arose to join CBC's mission trip to Peru, I knew it was a chance I couldn't pass up.

What drew me to Peru? It was a mix of curiosity and a profound desire to step out of my comfort zone. I wanted to see life through a different lens, to understand the struggles and triumphs of those living in poverty, and, if possible, to lend a helping hand.

The decision to join my fellow O’Connell classmates on this journey wasn’t made lightly. It was a conversation at the dinner table, a spark of inspiration from a friend, and a leap of faith into the unknown. But above all, it was a calling—an unshakeable feeling that this was where I was meant to be.

As the days passed and the departure date drew near, my excitement and nervousness grew. What would I encounter in Peru? How would this experience shape me? These questions buzzed in my mind like bees in a field of wildflowers, both excitingly and slightly nerve-wracking.

Finally, the day arrived, and with a mix of anticipation and butterflies fluttering in my stomach, I boarded the plane bound for Peru. The journey itself was a whirlwind of emotions—excitement, uncertainty, and a touch of homesickness creeping in as it was the first time I had ever traveled by myself––or should I say, without my parents. But as we touched down in Peru and began our journey into the heart of Piura, any lingering doubts were swept away by the breathtaking beauty of the small towns and the warmth of the people we encountered along the way.

One particular moment stands out among the blur of countless new faces and unfamiliar places. It was our visit to an all girls school. As soon as we arrived, the children greeted us with open arms, their smiles as bright as the sun shining down upon us. We spent the day immersed in their world of never-ending smiles and laughter—playing soccer and volleyball, sharing stories, making bracelets, and learning from one another in ways that rose above and beyond the difficulties faced by language barriers. But the highlight came when the children gathered to perform for us. Not only did they beautifully perform traditional dances, they also had prepared a beautiful song at the end of Mass. In that moment, surrounded by the beauty of their songs and the love in their hearts, I felt something shift inside me. It was a realization—an understanding that true wealth isn’t measured in material possessions, but in the connections we make and the lives we touch along the way.

As I reflect on my time in Peru, I am filled with a sense of gratitude not only for the experiences shared, but also the lessons learned, and the friendships we made along our beautiful, and quite hot, journey. This journey has changed me in ways I never could have imagined. It had ignited a passion for service and a commitment to making a difference in the world, one small act of kindness at a time.

So as I return home, my heart shines with memories and my mind races as I try to think of what else I can do in order to leave my mark. I carry with me the spirit of Piura—a reminder that even in the darkest of times, there is light to be found in the kindness of strangers and the beauty of human connection. And although the connections I have made on this trip may slowly get weaker, and the memories will fade with time, the impact of this journey will forever dwell within me, guiding me on the road ahead.