Destination: Peru and the Amazon
Visiting the Amazon had been on pharmacy major Madeline Hall’s bucket list for as long as she could remember. So when ONU offered a “Global Healing Traditions” faculty-led trip to Peru over spring break, she jumped at the chance.
With a hectic schedule playing soccer and studying pharmacy, it just wasn’t feasible for her to spend an entire semester abroad, even though she would have liked to, says Madeline. But a weeklong trip? Perfect. And while seven days may seem like a short trip, it was jam-packed with experiences that changed Madeline’s outlook on life and her career.
“The Amazon is one of the greatest expressions of life on this planet and getting to hike through it and getting to live within it for a week was an experience like no other,” she says.
While in Peru, Madeline and her group stayed at the Heliconia Lodge on the banks of the Amazon River. Because the trip focused on non-Western medicine, they spent time learning about the medicinal value of plants and the Peruvian culture’s traditional methods of healing. Additionally, they embarked on many adventures. They petted monkeys on Monkey Island; hiked through the jungle at night; viewed pink dolphins; fished for piranhas; and visited the indigenous Yagua tribe where the women demonstrated how they make bracelets, bags and hammocks and color them naturally using fruits and plants.
Madeline’s favorite activity? A nighttime boat ride on the Amazon River. “I love star gazing, so with no light pollution and on a relaxing boat with our guide telling stories and singing songs, it was magical,” she says.
Madeline’s ultimate quest in Peru was to “gain and see all that I was meant to and find new appreciation and perspective on the world,” she says. She did just that. She discovered how to slow down and savor the present, to appreciate human connection, and to value different perspectives, especially on healing. Lastly, she learned that good things come when you challenge yourself and try new things. “It changes how you think,” she says.