Being in Peru thus far has certainly been an experience that I will never forget. Everyday, I venture off to work at Kuska school which is in Ollantaytambo. My experience in Peru and in Ollantaytambo has been one that I can certainly call unique and interesting. While in Urubamba I get a lot of looks and glares while walking down the street. Things ranging from people complimenting my hair, to people touching my hair, to people just staring, to people calling me a “hipster.” I am not annoyed by this culture that I experience in Peru on a daily basis; rather, I am in a sense grateful that people show appreciation when they see something they have not seen before. In my experience, my braids also known as trenzas in Spanish has made me stand out. Oddly enough, I have a feeling that I am teaching and exposing the people in Peru to a different culture by just sharing a bit of who I am with the society I am immersed in. In my host family, I also see this trend – there are questions ranging from – “How many braids are there? How long can they last? ” I happily answer their questions because they do genuinely want to learn about me a bit more. I do indeed stand out as an outsider; however, I am an outsider that is here to learn and teach and not to just take and learn.
At my placement site – Kuska school, the children were truly amazed because they have never seen braids before. They proceeded to pull it, touch it, and just admire it. I was smiling the whole time because it was something I felt comfortable and okay with. I was able to understand the children because they have never seen braids before and were just mesmerized by it. There is a little boy in particular that made everything much more interesting. Whenever he saw me, he would touch my hair and say “Tu Cabellooo.” Not once or twice but multiple times. The children were learning about me just through my hair just as I am equally learning about them and Peru.
I never thought that something that was considered “normal” in the United States would be a big deal in Peru. I appreciate it very much because I am exposing the community that I am trying to immerse myself into something new. I am not the only one being exposed to new things – they are being exposed to me, my hair and everything that I have to offer. My hair and how it stood out in Peru is an interesting story and experience that I will take back home and will forever remember.