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Hello, my name is Hayden McJunkin. I live in Truckee California (near Lake Tahoe), and I will be turning 15 on this trip. Being a rising sophomore at a ski academy, I often have to balance training with school and other activities. I love Nordic skiing (cross country), Freeride skiing, mountain biking, cliff jumping, chocolate, helping out in my community, and I have a secret passion for drawing and painting. However, traveling is fun and very important as well, and I am fortunate to be able to do it a lot.  Whether I’m going to a ski competition with my teammates, or exploring new places with my family, I am usually the first to be up for discovering something new. I try my best to adapt to new cultures, settings, and languages. Living in the mountains with my mother, father, and sister, I have grown up to appreciate true natural beauty, and I can’t wait to see what the Amazon, Andes, and everything in between have to offer! This time, I will be leaving the comforting shore of having my family and a sense of familiarity by my side to experience my own adventure with you guys!

I am connected to Peru by my mom, who worked in Lima, Peru for 3 months, and worked in banks as a part of a credit card project. She did not love Lima, but really enjoyed Cusco. Through many trips to Latin America, she is fluent in Spanish, and sometimes tries to get me to speak the language, however little of it that I know. Being told her stories of the Inca capital, I am very eager to experience it independently. Also, in my world history class this year, I enjoyed learning about the history of Peru.

Home. I believe it to be an interesting phrase. As humans, we continue a never ending search for belonging and peace. Often a true sense of home provides this for us. It might be a single place, or a feeling within ourselves that lets us be at peace with our surroundings. For me, it is both. If I was to be asked, “Where do you call home?”, I would have two answers. One, of course would be Truckee, California. I am connected to this place because of the roots I have at school, the lifestyle, the environment there, and the community. The mountains, and the sparkling lakes in the summer, as well as the deep snow in the winter, provide a magical sense of belonging and home. However, my other answer to the question above would be: home is within me. Through finding peace within myself and the places I travel to, my home becomes portable, but still there in great quality. Hopefully, by meeting you all and experiencing Peru, I will find a fragment of home there, too.

*The picture I attached is of me and my sister (Reece) at Echo Lake (I’m on the right).