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October 24, 2018
Mary Tilyou, CAS '19
LAVA Project - Galápagos, Ecuador
It may not be immediately apparent why I chose a photo of me cuddling a rooster as the best representation of my time in Galápagos. However, the moment this photo was taken is one of my best memories from the summer. It exemplifies the way the local community went out of their way to involve us in their cultural events.
This photo was taken at Inti Raymi, a celebration in honor of the sun god of an indigenous Ecuadorian group which takes place annually on the summer solstice. The festivities began early in the morning, with bands marching through the streets and people in traditional garb parading and dancing through the streets. My coworkers and I were drawn out of our house by the music and started trailing behind a group of middle-aged women dressed for the event. As soon as the ladies noticed us they giggled to each other and, after a brief consultation, waved us up to walk with them. As we walked with them to join up with the main procession, they gave us the inside scoop about the day's events and insisted we promise to dance with them. It was wonderful and unexpected to be not only allowed but actively encouraged to take part in their cultural event. As Inti Raymi is an important religious event I initially had doubts about taking part in the event. I did not want to treat their cultural beliefs like a tourist attraction. Yet, I need not have worried because everyone was just as excited to get us involved as our group of ladies. When we had to excuse ourselves from the parade to do some work we were only allowed to leave after committing to coming to the large dance to be held that evening (where I had my chicken photoshoot!).
Inti Raymi was a wonderful experience, but just as wonderful was the willingness of our host community to invite us into their daily routines. My internship was an incredible opportunity for professional development, but just as important was the personal experience enriched through a constant and dynamic cultural exchange. It was a privilege to be welcomed with open arms and feel a sense of belonging in a new culture and country.
The Global Research and Internship Program (GRIP) provides outstanding undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to intern or conduct research abroad for 8 to 12 weeks over the summer. Participants gain career-enhancing experience and global exposure that is essential in a global workforce. Placements and funding awards are available.