Barrett journalism major has life-changing experience in Peru

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January 7, 2019

Barrett student Alisa Murphy reflected on meaningful memories from her time in Peru, which included a visit to the village of Umasbamba, which was the highlight of her trip. Murphy was introduced to this small village, and Peruvian culture, when she embarked on a study abroad trip to this South American country this past summer with the ASU College of Nursing and Health Innovation. The purpose of this travel program was to allow students to perform service learning related to public health and culture in several locations in Peru, with an added focus on cross-cultural exchange.

Alisa Murphy with locals

Murphy enjoyed her time in Cusco, the city where most of the trip was spent. She visited historical sites like Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu, roaming vast landscapes with a cohort of students that soon became her family. From Cusco, the students traveled to Umasbamba, where most of the service and course work took place. Murphy gained a wealth of knowledge from her work while also earning honors credit. Her greatest takeaway was a new perspective on life and happiness­, which was greatly affected by her interactions with the Umasbamban people.

“In the mornings we would catch the bus to the village, which was about an hour away in a rural part of the country,” she said. “The villagers suffered a lack of basic resources, but what surprised me was their overwhelming happiness and generosity. They welcomed us with joy and are some of the kindest, hardest-working people I’ve ever known. Happiness was derived simply by being surrounded by those you love, regardless of the environment, which is something I’ll never forget.”

Since most of the students’ work was related to health, they also had the opportunity to interact with local medical professionals. Though majoring in journalism rather than public health, Murphy left these interactions with a profound respect for those who work in the healthcare field that would not have been discovered otherwise. In her mind, this highlighted the importance of taking the opportunity to study or work abroad, regardless of academic major.

“If you are scared to travel or have never left the United States, study abroad. I never imagined I would visit Peru with nursing and healthcare students, but it has become one of the best decisions I have ever made. Be open minded, and don’t close a door to an opportunity that could be life-changing.”

student group photo Peru

Murphy now views the world through a different lens, appreciating even more the access to technology and basic medical care that most take for granted. Though not citing a specific dream job, she hopes to carry this experience throughout her life and her future profession, aiming to study or work abroad many more times and obtain an increasingly well-rounded worldview.

“This study abroad experience shifted everything for me. It changed how I view situations, especially in circumstances involving your typical first world problems. Never before has an experience forced me to reflect on myself in an effort to build a better, more educated character with an appreciation for all fields of work and walks of life.”

You can watch this recap video that was made by Alisa below:

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