Posted by: Ron Hanscome | March 19, 2010

OK, HCM Matters, But…A Call to Get Personally Involved

Flores de Villa English Camp - Morning class, ages 15-21

Well, it’s been almost a month since we returned from our Peru English camp “vacation with a purpose.” My last post was written in the midst of the trip down…and I’ve held off on writing about this experience  until now because I needed some time for internal processing. Be warned – this runs a bit outside my normal focus on HCM and HCM technology…but I hope that you’ll find it meaningful and applicable to your larger life (the real one outside of the daily grind).

As previously indicated, we got a late start on our trip due to air travel system issues. Ultimately we arrived in Lima a little before midnight on Monday evening, which meant we all got about 3 hours of sleep by the time we got to our hotel and had to get up for the first class on Tuesday morning. We ran a four day camp in the shantytown of Flores de Villa, with six classes of 30 students each in the morning, and another six classes in the afternoon. The curriculum included lots of instruction in basic vocabulary and grammar, with a focus on hands-on topics (e.g., food, sports, occupations) that would give the students a better chance of improving their economic situation. In addition to working with the 15-21 year-olds, I ran a music room where I played guitar and taught the students English words to songs.

In addition to the English camp we were able to do home visits, attend various evening group meetings, and see firsthand the positive impact a long-term investment of time, resources and love can make in a community. Peruvian Partners has focused on Flores de Villa for 15 years, and the results include a community clinic, childcare center, multiple homebuilding projects, male & female teen group homes, micro-industry, and a network of community leaders trained to promote healthy living practices. We were even able to squeeze in an hour or two for shopping and siteseeing (my favorite was the Bridge of Sighs – anyone else remember the Robin Trower tune?). After a scant five days on the ground, we left for the long flight home, exhausted yet exhilarated by our whirlwind experience.

Here are the major lessons I learned from this adventure:

  • Giving money to a cause is good — giving of your time and yourself is better, and can be life changing. Do both!!!
  • Getting out to see how the rest of the world lives is a great way to put my ‘problems” in perspective — I’m especially glad that my 11-year-old son Ryan has now been exposed to the realities of life in other parts of the globe. I’ll always remember this definition of “rich” — if you have enough money to buy a book, and you know how to read it, then you are rich according to the average world standard.
  • A diverse team (29 members from six different suburban Minneapolis churches) was able to unite around a common cause, and prevail despite the travel issues, sickness, and fatigue. We were able to work harmoniously with a host of on-site resources and overcome some language limitations, because our goals were clearly understood and everyone was pointing in the same direction. This is one area that certainly applies to your HCM projects — make sure your goals are clearly articulated and understood by team members to avoid a lot of difficulty as the project moves along.
  • Nothing beats a great project manager! Kudos to Ranelle Kuehl, our coordinator par excellence — her incredible organization, attention to detail, and past experience was critical to the success of the trip. Keep this one in mind for your HCM projects as well – finding the right project manager will overcome a multitude of sins later on.
  • Establishing meaningful personal relationships (both on the team and down in Peru) is where the true value of the experience lies — is there anything better than making a difference?

If you want to see more pictures from the trip, click here for my wife Tina’s Facebook site.

So, what are you waiting for? Get past your fears. Get out of your comfort zone. Get out there. Make a difference.

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