Over the summer, Montverde Academy student-athletes Michael Megler ’17 and Alejandro Ruiz ’17 journeyed to Peru on a community service project through Travel for Teens. The two students not only learned how to make adobe ovens and how to plant crops, they learned the importance of service to others and what making a difference truly means. Check out the story below by Megler ’17 about his time in Peru and what it meant to represent Montverde Academy!

It was a bitter cold temperature of around 24 degrees Fahrenheit in our rooms as we awoke high in the dry, Peruvian Andes, 13,000 feet up, dozens of miles from any paved road, vehicle, or any more modern form of civilization. I, Michael Megler, and Alejandro Ruiz, the powerlifting co-captains at Montverde Academy, woke up early to begin a hard day’s work in the small town of Misminay, where we would be found fixing gutters for collecting rainwater, building mud and adobe ovens, planting crops for the villagers’ food, and interacting with the local children for a good portion of the day.

Peru 2For five days straight, with no indoor heating, little running water, and the effects of the high altitude, we both worked tirelessly all day for these villagers, as we knew anything and everything we built for them would be deeply appreciated. These villagers, from the town of Misminay, were some of the most gracious individuals we had ever come across, and to this day, nearly a month after our stay in that remote part of the world, we still can remember their warm smiles, rugged style of living, and uniquely quaint houses with which we became familiar during our five days’ stay.

Months earlier, the two of us were sitting in Applied Calculus, after finishing up our homework in-class, dreaming up places to visit during the summer vacation which was soon to come. I had previously gone on several other community-service based trips with a group called Travel for Teens to countries like China and Australia, and I suggested we do another just like those during the summer. Alejandro enthusiastically agreed, and several months later, we arrived in Lima via Peruvian Airlines to start an incredible adventure traveling across this amazing country in South America, helping many hundreds of villagers along the way.Peru 1

We cannot express our thanks enough to our parents and Coach Pauli for encouraging us to go forward with this community service trip. Alejandro and I had previously done numerous community service projects together in and around the central Florida area, and having the opportunity to “take it to the next level”, as one would say, thousands of miles from home, in an entirely different hemisphere is an experience we can only hope to have the opportunity to do again.

Our parents and Coach Pauli have always looked at community service very highly, and seeing how supportive they were for this trip is very encouraging. Alejandro and I made sure to represent Montverde Academy, and more importantly, the United States, in the best possible way. We will never forget this amazing opportunity to help others and their community, and we encourage everyone reading this to help others out with their own version of community service, as the gratitude shown by those on the receiving end is so strong, it can’t help but make you smile.