International Service Trip: Sharing the Princeton Spirit
March 20, 2014
On Thursday we returned to Tambococha to continue the work that some of us had started on Monday. Tambococha is a beautiful community situated in a valley that is surrounded by mountains. We spent Monday laying out rocks to create a patio outside of the community president’s home, with the idea being to keep a clean outdoor surface free of dirt, mud and animal droppings. ProWorld’s usual technique is to place rocks in a Tetris like manner and fill in the cracks with concrete. However, the owner of the house had a different idea and decided to fill the entire patio with concrete, not just the cracks between rocks. Since our goal was to provide a clean surface and collaborate with the community partner we decided to continue with his approach. We spent the day moving rocks, pouring concrete, and having some really great discussions about life and Princeton with the Princeton University Bridge Year students. It was a great end to the service component of our trip.
We got a pleasant surprise when, Patrick, our ProWorld contact, told us we would be able to see the Inca ruins at Ollantaytambo. Bill, our tour guide, told us stories of Inca mythology as we sat on the ancient ruins, looking down at the terra cotta thatched roofs of Ollanta. As with most sacred ruins there was a love story, a story of the low-born Ollanta falling madly in love with a princess above his station. The smooth and tight connections of the rocks were also a testament to glory of Inca architecture and engineering. Finally, the echoing chambers, cut precisely into the walls, spoke to Incan spiritualism and mythology. We explored Ollanta at length, crossing through the narrow Inca paths to look down at the stunning views below and above. The view looked like it has been photoshopped in.
Immediately after our return from Ollantaytambo, the IST team began working vigorously on the circuitry for the second solar suitcase. Having already completed the circuitry for the first suitcase and having studied and reviewed the conceptual components behind it, we were all quite familiar with the process this time around. Invigorated by our exciting visit to the ruins and the prospect of a fantastic dinner with the Princeton Bridge Year students, we were making record time and working fluidly as a team. Unfortunately, as we went to finish the negative wiring, we ran into issues with a single thread in the charge controller. The screw for the battery negative was not going in, making it impossible to complete a functional circuit. Despite a significant amount of trouble shooting, the screw would not budge, and we decided to continue trying after dinner. Once we realized that the charge controller could not be fixed in a timely matter, we made the decision to take the defective charge controller home with us and to ship a new one to ProWorld, who has agreed to construct and install the remaining We Share Solar suitcase in Corpani Peñas after the community center they want the solar electric system to be installed in is built. We feel confident that ProWorld and the Princeton Bridge Year Peru students can effectively build and install the system in the community to meet their needs.
The team was really looking forward to dinner, because this meal would be shared with the Bridge Year Peru students, who we were hoping to get a chance to interact with more. The evening began with a quick trip down to the town’s churro stand, a favorite among the Bridge Year students. We then proceeded to a Peruvian restaurant selected by the Bridge Year students, who helpfully explained each option on the menu, giving us suggestions on which of the regional dishes were the most delicious. It was extremely stressful deciding which dish to try out, since they made everything sound so amazing! While waiting for our meal to be served, we began engaging in interesting discussion. We talked about our interests on campus, followed by various questions about life at Princeton. We then proceeded to ask about the Bridge year experience, and reflections the students had thus far. Dinner was fantastic, and was followed by a trip to a local bakery to try tasty Peruvian pastries, such as alfajores. The night ended by sitting, talking, and dancing on the church steps in the plaza with the Bridge Year Peru students, which was the perfect way to spend our last night in Urubamba.
— The International Service Trip Team