Karin Hecht ’16, a psychology and English double major, spent her Imagine fellowship working with the Los Martincitos Senior Citizen Center in a shantytown in Lima, Peru. Abuelitos, as the elderly participants are called, often live in harsh conditions with little support.
The problems that the abuelitos faced, such as poverty, isolation, and lack of access to medical care, exist in the U.S. but are amplified in Peru, Hecht says. She witnessed some heart-wrenching situations, such as a woman who’d broken her ankle and would have been bedridden for life were it not for the simple medical intervention of the center, which provided pain medicine and monitored healing.
Hecht is glad that her fellowship was an emotionally difficult experience: “It was good that it pushed me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to consider this other facet of poverty in developing nations.”
Hecht cares about making sure that her efforts have an impact. “So many people from first-world countries like to throw money and resources at developing nations,” she says, “and though that can help, sometimes it can end up hurting because you don’t have a good concept of what the people actually need or want or what impacts the politics of that country will have on your help. You need the ability to work within the system, which means asking the people who actually live there what they need and want.”
If you had $5,000 to design a learning experience for yourself anywhere in the world, what would you do? This is the question posed to the 10 students that Luther selects as Imagine Fellows each year. To explore giving opportunities at Luther or to help support the Imagine Fellowships, please visit giving.luther.edu