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PEAK Travels: A Summer of Service in Ecuador

Rising senior and PEAK scholar Vanessa shares highlights of her service trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos. Vanessa was away for three weeks through a program called Road Less Traveled, and received a grant to help make the trip a reality. Here's what she had to say about this unique opportunity:

"Well, just seeing the site of Quito from above amazed me, every time I'd see something that amazed me I would think that would be the thing to talk about when I'd get home. Then in just a few minutes I'd see something else or hear something else and had a whole different story to tell the family back at home. This cycle would literally happen the whole time I was in Quito, Otavalo, and in the Galapagos. While flying to Ecuador, I was hoping to learn more about Otavalo and to just see how the people in Otavalo live. Four things I was excited to do was work with the kids, snorkel, surf, and raft. By the way the kids in Otavalo are nothing like the kids here in Chicago, they were very independent, smart, loving, and open minded, I'm taking about kids who were 3-11 years old. It was really easy to interact with the kids because one of their main languages is Spanish and I speak Spanish so it was easy to interact with them. Out of the whole trip the biggest surprise was when I was walking around in the water super close to shore and happened to come up close to a shark, the baby shark was literally 5 feet away from me that I just ran out of the water. I've honestly never ran away from something so fast before. The second biggest surprise was when we went rafting because it wasn't just a typical day of rafting most people have! The experience we had was like no other typical experience of just rafting down the Napo River, out of the seven people on the raft four fell out and luckily I was one of the three that didn't fall out of the raft. It was a tad bit scared because I didn't see it coming, so I'd say that was one big surprise! The dinner we had before rafting back to where we started made up for the biggest surprise that I had experienced though."

THANK YOU to everyone who has supported Vanessa and students like her in the PEAK program. When you invest in students, they prove it is worthwhile! We are grateful to connect young minds with the resources to do great things and impact others across the globe. Stay tuned for more news from PEAK.

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