Social Impact Design

Monday, September 24, 2012


Oh where to start?
A LOT has happened since my last post, but I’ll keep this one about my trip back home. The week leading up to my return seemed to drag on forever. Even the trip back refused to end. There was a 16 hour bus ride to Lima, a 4 hour flight to Panama, an 8 hour layover, another 5 hour flight, and FINALLY, touchdown in Chicago. My oldest sister Mary Beth was waiting for me around midnight. It was really nice to see a familiar face. I actually gave her two hello hugs just for good measure.

On the way back to her apartment, we stopped at a CVS to grab some midnight treats. The CVS smell was as overwhelming as the selection of tasty beer. We decided upon a variety pack of 312. I got to say hi to space ghost and Sam, but only for a second because I had to catch the early MegaBus back home to Grand Rapids.

I live in a very lush part of Perú, but its in the mountains. Driving home was really great because I got to see the familiar, flat, green fields of Michigan. At this point I was too excited to really concentrate much. My youngest sister Emily picked me up from the bus stop and then we met my parents for a welcome back lunch at Sami’s in Eastown. Now Sami’s has been around for a very long time. Its this middle eastern deli that’s kinda set up like a Subway where you can pick all your favorite toppings for you Gyro. Sami, the business owner, was working the register so I had to tell him that I had been out of the country for almost a year, and that he was my first stop. My mom got a pita filled with falafel while I got a classic gyro, filled with all the good stuff. Oh it was heaven with a side of Arizona raspberry iced tea (which I was happy to see was still only $1 for the huge can)

Now I could go on an on about all the food that I ate. In fact it could be its own blog post. Now don’t get me wrong, Perú has a lot of really great food. But there are some comfort foods that just cant be replaced. Here are a few of my favorite things:

I also decided to do a little work at home. The third goal of the peace corps is to share the culture that you learned about with Americans. My favorite aspect of culture happens to be food (surprised?). So I decided to bring back some of my favorite (and most portable) parts of Peruvian cuisine: Fried plantains, canchita (think corn nuts but better), Chicha Morada (purple corn drink), Paneton (the holiday bread thats a mix between fruitcake and angle-food cake), and of course the tasty Peruvian pepper Ají.

I came to realize that there are some things that I never knew I took for granted. The first and most important was ice water. I think my mother passed this habit along to me, but I often need to have a tall glass, completely filled with ice, then topped off with water. The unlimited supply of clean, ice cold water really made my day.

Other things that really felt great were:
  • Driving. Okay, I admit I did speed for a while, just for the thrill. I drove around Reeds Lake, which I had intended to bike, but just ran out of time.
  • Taking a long hot shower with full pressure and drying off with soft towels, stepping onto a dry bathroom floor. I felt like I was in a spa.
  • Cooking with a Teflon pan. Who knew you didn’t have to use two tablespoons of oil to fry an egg?
  • Drinking a Bells Two-Hearted IPA from tap. The first sip was beyond description.
  • Hooking up the Nintendo 64 and playing MarioCart with Emily.
  • Rediscovering my earthly possessions: It was a very odd experience rummaging through all of the things I had left behind. I was slowly remembering who I was before I left. Oh yeah, I did buy this padfolio, and Oh! I forgot that I bought that yellow button up from GoodWill right before I left! It was kinda like finding 100 Christmas presents that someone with your taste (yourself) gave to you all at once.
  • Sleeping with a Temprapedic pillow.
  • Driving by my old work in Ann Arbor, just as the band was practicing Hail to the Victors at Elbel Field.
  • Chilling on the diag, eating and dramatically running to give Johanna a spinning hug.
  • A visit to the Evans House during “work week”. The smell of that house brought back a flash of memories and feelings that put a huge smile on my face. I introduced myself to the 75% of the people in the house who I didn’t know, and most of them said “So YOU are David Witte! We keep getting all your junk mail!” I had a great night in Ann Arbor that ended up with 2 Late-night specials from Cottage Inn.
  • Visiting Eric’s cottage and going for a swim. The taste and smell of the lake-water was all that I needed to fulfill a Michigan summer. I even stuck my feet down in the muck just to get the full effect.
  • Oh yeah, and my sisters WEDDING!

The wedding:
First off, let me just say that when two artistic people get married, you automatically know that the wedding is going to be a blast. I mean, its not everyday that you find a venue that has a 15 foot mirror behind the head table that slides back to reveal a kickass band. 

Add the photobooth, open bar and all the family that you’ve missed for the past year, and its like all of the holidays thrown into one. That being said, it flew by way to fast and I felt like I barely had time to say hello before it was time to say goodbye. 

Luckily the night before they had a little get together at Audiotree which has huge canvases of Sam’s artwork all over the walls. And the roof top was open, which a great view of the Chicago skyline. Anna flew in from Seattle, where she just started Americorps. I beat her to the Peace Corps, which I know she always wanted to do first, but I know she will have an amazing time in Seattle.

The wedding ceremony was outside, in Lincoln Park. It was 94 degrees outside and the groomsmen were placed in the sun. But really it wasn’t that bad, because it was a short ceremony and I was filled with so many other emotions that there really wasn’t room to feel the discomfort. It was not your traditional service, being as it was lead by a Hindu “priest”, but I thought it was amazing. 


Every member of the wedding party had a reading that really spoke to their personality. Here is the reading that they picked out for me:

"It is important to find out exactly what makes you happy, peaks your interest and quenches your thirst for knowledge. Therefore work will not feel like a chore and success will come naturally." Sepp Holtzer

Like I said, it fit me perfectly. Ever since my senior year of college, I have been living with this philosophy. And to tell you the truth, coming to Perú and leaving all my comforts behind has really made me realize what makes me happy: my family. 

The 10 days that I was home, I was ecstatic. I felt like I was on top of the world. It had nothing to do with the good food, the fast internet, or the warm showers but everything to do with the love that I was feeling from all those around me. I could see it in their faces that they missed me and I could hear it in their laughter how bad my jokes still were. And I felt it in my heart when I had to say goodbye to my nieces yet again. But those 10 days really reaffirmed that I am blessed to have such an amazing family who will be there when I come back. I love you all.

PS: Mya can walk and talk now! (ABCs Video) A year changes a lot with those little girls.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful post. I can't even try to compete!! But, I completely agree with you that family makes me happiest. I've had that realization several times in the past couple years, including your trip home from Peru. I've been meaning to write you a letter, so I'll get on that ASAP. [it's been on my to-do list since I got to Chicago, haha]
    Miss you! I'm glad you had a good trip home. Can't wait to see you again. <3