In the online activities or “modules” that I completed prior to the Spanish Emersion Peru Trip, I learned about Peruvian history and culture. One of the principles of Leave No Trace, which was discussed frequently on the trip was “Know Before You Go.” Knowing before you go means studying up on the destination, and at least having a basic understanding of the country’s politics, history, and traditions. To me, this step is one that cannot be overlooked. As a tourist, I often feel like I am disrupting the locals by being an onlooker to their daily lives. However, with prior knowledge of a destination, a tourist can be more culturally sensitive and aware, which I believe is crucial in order to avoid being the “obnoxious American tourist.”
Traveling to Peru with a sense of the country enabled me to have a better understanding while on tours, visiting attractions, and during discussions with my host family. I don’t believe I would have gotten as much out of the trip if it wasn’t for the information I gathered at home in New York.