Sophie: Community Health in PeruPosted on Wednesday, March 30th, 2022
Hello... Meet Sophie!
Sophie and her husband Matt went together as Goers to Peru soon after they were married in their first year after college. After their two years in Peru, they moved back to Northern Minnesota where Sophie is working as a realtor and art agent and Matt is a contractor. They are expecting baby #1 this year and are in the process of converting a '73 Airstream and a shipping container into Airbnb's... they can't wait to share their corner of the world with visitors!
Here's our Map Years interview with Sophie...
>> Tell us about yourself and how you chose your placement
Sophie: I was studying Biology at the time and was on track to attend PA school after graduation. Long story short, I decided to apply to GoCorps and Peru was one of the few options with a medical emphasis. During our time there, I taught community health education in small community middle and high schools and volunteered in a local clinic. We worked alongside Engineers Without Borders who were in the process of installing water sources at the time, so it was important that the tribal communities knew how to use and take care of their clean water.
>> Why are you glad that you went overseas in your 20's?
Sophie: I got married right after graduating college and ten months later my husband and I moved to Peru. Looking back, not only do we both recall our experience as one of the most life-transforming decisions in our individual lives but for our marriage as well. There's just something about uprooting and trusting God in an unknown place. We really struggled at first with the decision to attend graduate school right after graduation or go overseas but came to the conclusion that grad school will *always* be there. Peru on the other hand was an opportunity for a specific time in our lives - before we had kids, settled down in careers, or were further in school debt.
>> What was your biggest barrier to getting overseas?
Sophie: Our biggest barrier in going was truly just making the decision to go for it. It was hard when all throughout college we were so focused on our careers - once we finally got to that last stage, deciding to push pause seemed like a really big deal. I remember a lot of nights spent making lists of pros and cons and in prayer. Thankfully we had a lot of support from our families and once we finally made the decision to just jump in, there was no looking back.
>> When you think about your experience in Peru what are you most proud of?
Sophie: Peru made me more adaptable as a person, particularly to discomfort. The experience stretched me in so many ways out of my comfort zone that pretty soon just saying "yes" to whatever it was God had for us on that particular day became habitual. It also opened my eyes to other ways of doing life. It helped me learn to withhold judgment just because someone does something differently and taught me the advantage of learning from everyone.
>> How did your experience living overseas positively impact your faith?
Sophie: Living overseas greatly increased my dependence on Christ. Day to day life is hard when you're immersed in a totally new and different culture and there were so many moments where I just had to say, "I can't, so God, you must" - and He always did! Getting to that point for me required me to be out of my comfort zone where things were outside of my control. It was also so beautiful to see God through very different people.
>> What is one thing about the culture or work in Peru that you really enjoyed or appreciated?
Sophie: The Peruvian culture taught us to slow down. Nearly everyone was an incredibly hard worker yet they were so willing to prioritize rest and family above getting their tasks done for the day. At first, this was frustrating to us, as work is so highly valued in our culture. Once we were finally able to embrace it we realized how cool of a skill that is to have and something we try to live out in our own lives.
>> How did your experience in Peru directly or indirectly impact your career or job opportunities after you returned?
Sophie: Both my husband and I decided not to go into the medical field after returning from Peru. We realized that we had set our sights on medicine so long ago (beginning of high school) and had never taken the time since to reevaluate what we *actually* wanted to do. For us, it took a gap year (or two) after college to take a deep breath and realize the things we were truly passionate about.
>> Tell us about one of your craziest experiences.
Sophie: It was the last day of a week spent with a community in the jungle. We were working alongside Engineers Without Borders and just finalized plans to begin putting a well in for them. They were so thankful that at the last meeting in front of the village they invited our team to go up front where the leader said a toast and handed us all large cups filled with their local party drink - fermented (aka rotten) potato! We all did our best to drink it as fast as possible and force a smile.
>> Share one or two great things that have happened as a direct result of your doing Map Years overseas after college:
Sophie: Our first five months in Peru were spent learning Spanish (neither of us spoke before). After those five months of studying, being immersed, and living with a local family, we tested at an Intermediate High speaking level. This is a skill we will take with us for the rest of our lives and something we're thankful for today when we travel. We are both working in jobs that we absolutely love now as well - which I don't think would be the case had we not taken the time after college to reevaluate what we truly wanted our lives to look like.
>> What would you say to someone who was considering Map Years as their next step?
Sophie: If you're considering moving overseas for your Map Years I would say GO FOR IT. I know it seems like such a big sacrifice at this point in your life but I can promise you that no matter what, you will not look back with regret. Two years go by so, so fast and this might be the only time in your life that you have an opportunity like this.
GoCorps helps put you on the map! We'd love to help you find your place in God's global work. Set up a time to talk with a coach or check out our global placements.