University of Oregon Student Athletes to Peru

Twenty U of O student athletes, four faculty and two Courts for Kids representatives participated in our 2nd annual partnership with the University, this time to a small community on the outskirts of Guadalupe, called Casa Blanca.  The community has limited development and no electricity, yet they mobilized and organized themselves to partner with us to create a safe space for their youth to play as well as a community gathering site.  The work could not have been done without the diligence and hard work of Amanda Slack with the Peace Corps.

The team arrived to a site with a lot of prep work remaining.  Being Division I athletes helped with the energy and commitment (and brute strength) necessary to finish the prep work and pouring of a full sized basketball court in three and a half days.   Staying in the community, eating the local food, learning traditional dances, bathing in a river, and spending a week with amazing people are memories that will last with our group forever.

Most people who venture to this part of Peru make it no further than Guadalupe, the larger, more developed town and seat of the municipality.  Casa Blanca is a marginalized community with little attention and fewer resources.  Yet this community, which hosted our team in their school on the floor, was in the spotlight due to our group being there.  In fact, the mayor of Guadalupe was so intrigued, she invited the team to her house twice.  The second time, we were able to bring mother’s from the community along.  These women would never be able to garner an audience from the mayor, let alone step in her house if it weren’t for our team being there.  I doubt there’s a better use of the privilege Americans have while traveling than to help direct the attention on the hard working women in this marginalized community.

A special thank you to the Quest Foundation for its contribution to this court project!

Some words from the student athletes…

I have learned so much over the course of the past week.  It was interesting to put myself so far out of my comfort zone and spend some time experiencing a culture so vastly different from our own  I loved how we walked into a community that we didn’t know at all and were greeted immediately with hugs and kisses.  It is very different from meeting people for the first time in the United States where I wouldn’t expect people to be as friendly towards a group of complete strangers.

There are people in the world who are grinding every day just to survive and feed their families.  The labor they do every day is something I have never had to face.  We have it so much easier in the US when it comes to doing daily tasks like making food and using the restroom.  We have microwaves and in Peru, they killed, cleaned and then cooked their food over makeshift fires they built with sticks and old corn cores. 

My favorite memory would be being able to connect with the local mothers.  You can see in their faces that they loved and appreciated us.  Even though there was a language barrier, by the end of the trip I could tell that they understood I felt the same way.  That human connection could not be missed even without words to connect us.

After this trip I was grateful for what I had and not for what I wanted. 

I was touched to be in the presence of such selfless people.  With what little they had, their hospitality was amazing.  I’ll never forget the families I met there and I hope the court is a forever standing memory of us to them as well.