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Trip to Peru changes the life of USG vice president

Every year, hundreds of students take advantage of University-sponsored trips in the hope they’ll introduce them to another culture.

Many come back from these travels changed and more mature, but for Undergraduate Student Government Vice President Nick Gamero, having a life-changing experience was the last thing he expected when he took a University-sponsored trip to Peru last winter break.

Gamero’s father is originally from Peru so when he heard about the trip, which was organized by the United Christian Fellowship and the University’s Arts Village, he decided it would be a good opportunity to get a taste of his own ethnicity.

‘I had never been there before,’ Gamero said. ‘And I was like, what the heck, why not, and I went.’

While on the trip, Gamero experienced ‘all of the normal touristy things people do,’ including ‘hiking trips, climbing mountains, touring ruins and good food.’

But Gamero also got a taste of real life along with all of the fun.

‘I saw poverty and such a corrupt government,’ he recalled. ‘We also helped build an addition to an orphanage, which was crazy.’

Although the Peruvian children had no running water or other amenities, Gamero said they were just happy to have the students there with them.

‘We were so hot and getting eaten by bugs all day long,’ he said. ‘Those kids lived like that every day, but I never heard them complain once. They were just so happy to have us there with them.’

After returning home to the states following nearly three weeks in Peru, Gamero realized what an impact the country and the people he met had on him.

‘It was life changing,’ he said. ‘I bring myself back to earth when I think about people in Peru who are living day to day and it just really makes me appreciate every moment I have.’

Junior Erin Stanley who went on the trip said that she saw the changes and increased optimism in Gamero early in the outing.

After sitting with Gamero on the bus ride there, she realized ‘he was really great to have around. He just had such a nice energy, even when he wasn’t feeling the best.’

Stanley said during one point of the trip, Gamero became dehydrated and ‘was really, really sick.’

‘I kept checking on him to make sure that he was still OK, but it was like he wasn’t even sick,’ she said. ‘He just managed to stay so positive and upbeat that you would forget he was miserable.”

Although she noted that the trip affected her life greatly, Stanley believes visiting Peru had an especially great impact on Gamero’s goals and motives today.

‘He was just so optimistic during the whole thing,’ she said of Gamero’s attitude in Peru. ‘I definitely see some of that optimism in his plans for the student government this year and I know it will benefit the student body.’

Gordon Ricketts, the director of Arts Village and one of the leaders on the trip, also noticed Gamero’s upbeat attitude.

‘Nick is serious, but fun at the same time,’ Ricketts said. ‘His positive attitude is great for the students and for USG. He’s going to be able to face problems this school year with an optimistic attitude, and that’s going to make all the difference.’

Ricketts also noted that Gamero is a ‘definite people person’ which allows him to make connections with people who are different.

‘While we were in Peru, Nick was really concerned with meeting local people,’ Ricketts said. ‘I remember he got involved in a football game with some locals and was the last one picked for a team. But you know, as soon as he got out there on the field and started playing, he was accepted by them and I think they respected him for who he was as a person.’

Ricketts also believes that this type of accepting and carefree behavior is what will make Gamero appealing to the students this school year.

‘He just really wants to learn about the people and not focus on the big political things,’ Ricketts said. ‘That is an extremely positive and hard to find thing in a leader, but Nick has it down.’

Although Gamero said his interaction with the people of Peru was definitely life changing, he hopes that his involvement with the students on campus will be life altering as well.

‘I want to do everything I can for the betterment of the undergraduate students,’ Gamero said. ‘What’s good for the students is good for me.’

‘This might sound cheesy,’ he said, ‘but for me, everything I do is all about the people.” ‘

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