USC has this incredible program called Alternative Spring Break (ASB) that organizes groups of students and sends them around the world to volunteer. Traveling has always been my favorite thing in the entire world (pun intended) and I wanted to do something exciting over spring break, so I decided to apply for ASB. Out of the many possible ASB trips to choose from, I chose ASB Peru because I had never been to South America and because I loved the volunteering aspect of the trip. Little did I know that this spring break would leave such a profound impact on my freshman year.

We all somehow survived the 24 hours of travel to get to Lima. The very next day, we began to volunteer. I volunteered at a place called “Mother Teresa’s Home for the Dying and Destitute.” It’s a savage name, I know, but the majority of people in the home were always smiling and full of life. In this home were around 30 elderly men who all had some mental or physical disability. I cared for the men by feeding them, helping them with daily needs, and showing them love and attention.

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One of the highlights of the trip was when we visited an amputation hospital in Lima. We were able to help it out by giving it a 3D printer. We then taught the nurses how to use the printer so they could 3D print prosthetic limbs for only 10 dollars a pop. This was especially interesting to me as a biomedical engineer who has always been intrigued by prosthetics.


I also learned a ton about Peruvian culture! A Peruvian dance teacher came over one night to teach our group some dance moves. We also visited two different ancient ruins and walked through the historical district so we could learn about both ancient and modern Peruvian history. In addition, every day I ate homemade traditional Peruvian meals (although I was too scared to try the guinea pig!)

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When it was time to board the flight back to Los Angeles, I was actually sad to leave. I had formed incredible relationships with the people at Madre Teresa’s, and I’ll never forget some of them. However, I did manage to leave Peru with 18 new friends who were complete strangers to me only a week before. I couldn’t have been happier that I decided to spend my spring break in Peru, and it was an experience that I will never forget.


To learn more about my experience in Peru, you can watch a video my team made. If you would like to learn more about the other ASB trips that USC offers, you can find information on the ASB website.

-Nathan Curtis

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