By Devin Jones
Eight Ryerson student athletes, in conjunction with the Ryerson Athletics Volunteer Experience (RAVE), will be travelling to Peru in May for one week to help build a school within the Pachacutec community in Lima.
Spearheaded by women’s volleyball libero Julie Longman and RAVE’s Jordan D’Souza the humanitarian trip has been in the works since early October with fundraising happening throughout the year.
“In my professional issues class we talked about all the things you should consider when going on a trip like this,” Longman says. “It’s more than going there thinking you’re going to make this big difference. We’re trying to focus on the simple things like taking Spanish lessons so they’re not accommodating us, we’re accommodating them.”
The group of athletes includes men’s soccer player Kyle Stewart and veteran volleyball player Wesley Kosiba. They were tasked with raising $1,200 for the group, alongside paying $1,500 out of pocket per person. Ryerson also contributed $7,500 in funding, $3,000 of which came from the Vice Provost Students while $4,500 came from the Vice Provost Academic.
While the athletics department hasn’t sponsered the group trip officially they have gone forward with contributing to the trip in the amount of $2,500.
“What we’ve said is that this isn’t a department-sponsered trip, we’re not paying the athletes to go,” says Heather Adam, manager of operations and strategic planning for Ryerson Athletics. “We are not organzing or funding the trip, but we are helping out with the funding efforts.”
D’Souza is the Canadian representative for RAVE and is reponsible for ironing out the logistics, but he’ll be travelling to Peru as a student.
The idea of glorifying international volunteer trips often seen through the lens of social media drove D’Souza, Stewart and Longman to make the trip about small, meaningful change rather than trying to do too much and disrupting the community. D’Souza notes these small actions make up the crux of their trip.
“What’s really important is for our athletes to develop their skills and work outside of the classroom,” he says. “We’re not going there to change the world, it’d be silly to think that. We’re going to do what we can in the time we’re there.”
On top of helping build the school, every day in the afternoon the athletes will be hosting athletic programming within the local community. A local Peruvian family will be hosting the group.
For fundraising, the group held events, where the proceeds went towards the overall trip, but individually the athletes were also able to collect donations with some of them creating GoFundMe pages and hosting their own events.
As a group they hosted a raffle at a men’s basketball game that included donations from Lululemon. They also organized an athletics-wide volleyball game dubbed “volleybrawl,” and an after party for the athletic banquet hosted at The Fifth Social Club, where they charged $5 at the door.
“So initially we had the cost at $2,500 a person straight up and within two weeks of interviews, we had asked that people have the money,” Longman says. “We were able to tweak the budget a bit and also everyone was allowed to open GoFundMe pages and raise any fund support they want.”
Stewart, who grew up Jamaica, felt the need the to join Longman on the trip after witnessing some of the conditions people lived in growing up. His appreciation for the opportunities he’s been given throughout his life has motivated him to give in smaller ways that help impact a few people at a time.
“I’ve seen the slums, I’ve been there. And so I wanted to do something to make a small difference to challenge myself to do something different,” Stewart says. “It [Peru] really hit home when we got the applications and it wasn’t just like, ‘Oh we’re not just talking about it anymore.’”
The athletes will be leaving May 1 and returning on the 9.