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Epiphany in Peru

Dear Rudy,

I was 14, and we were living in Peru. We had arrived a month or so before, and were visiting a Peace Corps volunteer in one of the "barriadas," or slums, near Lima. We had a 1964 white Chevy Impala, and as we drove down the dirt road entering the area, I was shocked by the cardboard houses, nearly naked kids, dogs with distended stomachs. My mother said to me, "It is only an accident of birth that you are inside this car and they are outside. There but for the grace of God go you." It sunk in like nothing had before, and my life changed on the spot.

Now, more than three decades later, I teach college students about other places in the world and take them there -- to Central America, Eastern Europe and Asia. My 3-year-old son comes from Guatemala, a place that has seen more than its share of poverty and turmoil. I feel profoundly connected with people around the world.




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