DCCC Students Learn while Serving at Catholic Mission in Peru

Peru trip Caroline Staley gives massage

June 17, 2013 – Students from Davidson County Community College had the opportunity to not only touch lives but become immersed in a foreign culture as part of an international service learning trip to Peru.

Peru Trip DT Hinkle building bamboo houseStudents Ryan Ball, DT Hinkle and Caroline Staley, as well as faculty member Tiffany Hemrick, stayed at a Catholic mission in Chimbote, Peru, where they helped build and repair homes, visited with children, spent time with physical therapy patients and more. 

“The area we worked in was extremely poor,” says Hemrick, a therapeutic massage instructor at DCCC. “The homes were made of woven bamboo and had dirt floors. It was incredibly sad to see people living like that.”

During the trip, the group helped build a house with woven bamboo and also constructed a new addition to an existing bamboo home. They also spent time in some of the prevention centers that the mission supports.

“The prevention centers are for children who come from homes where there is abuse, drugs and alcohol,” Hemrick explains. “We collected two suitcases full of donations prior to the trip filled with craft projects, crayons, small toys and more, and we were able to donate these to the children. We spent time with these kids and really showed them a lot of love; the smiles on their faces were so rewarding.”

Hinkle, a student in the early college on the Davie Campus, says spending time in the prevention center was one of the most memorable times during the trip.

“While there, I had the chance to paint children’s faces. The kids come from tough situations who may not have a loving or supportive family – something they desperately need,” Hinkle says. “I really enjoyed seeing them run back in line over and over to get their faces painted.”

Staley, a DCCC therapeutic massage student, also had the chance to give massages to patients in the mission’s physical therapy clinic. Staley, who gave massages with other massage students from community colleges in Ohio and Tennessee, saw it as a great opportunity to serve others. 

Peru Trip Ryan Ball“Being a massage student and having the opportunity to give massages to physical therapy patients made me realize how touching someone can make a difference,” Staley says. “The people of Peru were welcoming and some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. I only wish I could have stayed and done more for them. While we didn’t speak the same language, I could tell the people appreciated what we did for them.”

Hemrick agrees, adding the language barrier made the trip interesting. “But it was so much fun trying to communicate with them and figure things out,” she says. “Even though these people have very little, they were so happy and generous. I learned that a smile and a hug is an international language that anyone can speak.”

Aside from the service learning aspect, Hemrick notes the importance of students taking advantage of opportunities like traveling abroad.

“I had never traveled out of the country, so it was not only eye-opening for me, but also the students,” she says. “It’s so interesting to see how other people live in different parts of the world. The culture is different than ours – how they drive, what they eat. But we also found how important family is to their culture. In fact, extended families often live together there. Many of the houses we visited had a large dining table – large enough to seat every family member in the house.”

Hemrick adds, “While we were there to help others, I feel the people of Peru helped us more by opening our eyes to a different way of life so we could realize how truly blessed we are in our country. It was a life-changing experience, and I’m grateful to have been a part of it.”

“No matter what we share about our experience in Peru, it doesn’t begin to describe the impact and the clarity the service learning trip did for all of us,” Hinkle says. “It’s an experience that changes the way you view the world.”

Peru Trip Tiffany Hemrick with kids

*Editor’s Note: Pictured in the first photo is Caroline Staley giving a massage to a patient at the physical therapy clinic. In the second photo, pictured is DT Hinkle helping construct a home with bamboo.

In the third photo is Ryan Ball with children at the prevention center. In the fourth photo is Tiffany Hemrick surrounded by children at the center.

Founded in 1963, Davidson County Community College is noted for its quality educational programs and services. As one of 58 institutions within the North Carolina Community College System, DCCC offers studies in more than 50 degree programs. A fully-accredited, multi-campus college, DCCC celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. It is committed to developing minds, inspiring imaginations, and preparing students for enhanced career and educational opportunities within a changing global environment. Visit Davidson County Community College on the Web at davidsonccc.edu.