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JBQ Charitable Foundation



Catherine Matthews, UNCG Faculty and JBQ Board Member

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I absolutely loved that we had limited Internet on our travels. I loved the disconnect with technology and the reconnect with people, with dance, with music, with beauty, with friendship. We are, each and every one of us unique, but what drove you to do this thing? To share your love of Peru with people you’d only just met? It’s hard to pinpoint highlights among highlights but I will forever remember the macaws at the macaw lick, the tapir at the tapir lick and the night sounds and the night lights. But what I will remember past remembering is You and how You acted and how You brought this adventure to be and how You nurtured every last one of us, how You willed the jungle into our spirits, into our being and your persistence and then how it happened, how every last one of us came to love Peru with a bit of your fervor. Thank you Aerin ... for being Aerin!

Sam Miller, UNCG Faculty

City, State

The true value of this trip goes way beyond its funding. You put together a trip where everyone got to know everyone else in very thoughtful and sincere ways as we trooped though the jungle, fascinated by the monkeys above our heads, the frogs on leaves, and hidden insects under every log and leaf. More importantly, we got to know Peruvians from many different walks of life. I always will feel close to those who participated and thank you for this wonderful experience. Thank you.

Stan Faeth, UNCG Faculty

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Thanks so much for inviting me to join the teacher's group to Peru. To say it was an amazing experience is understatement. Of course, going to the Peruvian rainforest is a biologist's dream trip. But I gained so much more interacting with the students and faculty - fresh and different perspectives, new friendships and even a new collaboration.  Muchas gracias! 

Ann Somers, UNCG Faculty

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 We returned from Peru, red eyed and exhausted. Transformed in one way or another, each of us arrived home with an understanding of something before not fully appreciated. Already experienced in the outdoors, Think Tankers found new wonders in Manu and made deeply personal connections with the land, new species and new friends. In Lima they were touched, profoundly touched, by the magic of inquisitive children. Other students, previously nonchalant about the natural world, came home ignited with wonder and curiosity, excited about their new and unexpected identities. Everyone was empowered by having shed the shackles of unfounded fears of one sort or another. Shared experience, laughter and dancing unite us now in a special way. What a marvelous collection of people on a most valuable of missions! The Peruvian’s love for Peru was contagious and we all caught the bug. As a result of this trip, students and professors from the various disciplines opened their minds and hearts to possibilities for an expanded connection between UNCG and Peru. Your vision was for this trip was incredibly wild and most worthy. Aerin, you should pat yourself on the back and say what we all are saying about you: “Good job! Mission accomplished! Amazing idea for this trip and very smooth execution of the plan.” You pulled it off, not entirely by yourself we know, but wow. Double wow! But I know your mission is not accomplished and never will be. I feel truly privileged to have been a part of this venture and will forever be grateful for the opportunity to see Peru through your eyes. Just so you know, I share your hope and optimism and your commitment to education. 

Edna Tan, UNCG Faculty

City, State

A Haiku poem for Aerin 


Manu forest deep,

Tapir's watery salute -Unspeakable joy


Alayna, UNCG Class of 2014

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I want to say thank you so so much from the bottom of my heart for sharing your kindness and passion for Peru with me. Our first conversation on the plane ride was when I realized how much I can relate to you and your passion for the Spanish language and cultures as well as the environment. The fact that you went out of your way to set up the interview for Rachel and me with the principal of the school [for a future overseas work experience ] and I am grateful for the opportunities you have helped me to learn about.  I seriously appreciate everything you did to make this adventure a success. It was a learning experience that I will take with me everywhere I go.

Rachel, UNCG Class of 2014

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Thank you for everything you have done to make this trip possible. It was a life changing experience.  You were a selfless leader through our trip and made sure everyone was comfortable.  I can't wait to see what my future holds for me in Peru and I'm so grateful that you have given me this opportunity.

Ashley, UNCG Class of 2014

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There are no real words to describe how thankful I am for being given this wonderful opportunity. This trip has changed me in ways I would have never thought possible. Since the 8th grade, it has been my goal to travel to the South American rainforest. You as well as the JBQ foundation have made that happen. On the bus ride down through the cloud forest the scenery was absolutely breath taking but the realization of being there was heart throbbing. I could not believe that I had actually made it to the Amazon. I had achieved my goal. The overall experience was much more than I could have ever imagined. You organized a trip that gave us cultural insight, a passion for Peru traditions and natural beauty, and of course a new set of wonderful friends. The interactions and friendships made will last forever, even if we all go our separate ways or lose direct contact, we will always have Peru in common and we will always have you in common. Your own passion for Peru and for sharing Peru with others is inspiring and something I know you will never lose. 

Amy, UNCG Class of 2015

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... I never imagined I would get this sort of opportunity and there wasn’t a single moment of this trip that made me even consider regret going. All of us were able to take away so much from this just by having the opportunity to step outside our comfort zones (I for one never though I would enjoy trying to teach as much as I did!) You were truly successful in trying to get us to see why its is so important that we not only experience the world around us, but that we successfully teach what we have learned to others in a way that makes them interested and excited about science and the environment, something that I had never really considered the importance of. I am beyond happy that I got to travel with you and this group and it’s a trip that I will always remember as one of the highlights of my time at UNCG and I hope you will be able to continue it for future students. 

Kaitlyn, UNCG Class of 2014

City, State

Thank you so much for all the planning for Peru and all the work you put into it. It was an amazing trip that I will never forget. I especially loved going to the school and teaching the students. I gained a wonderful experience that I will always cherish. From Lima to the jungle---Peru is AMAZING! 

Stephanie, UNCG Class of 2014

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The opportunity you provided us was once in a lifetime. I will always remember and treasure our trip to Peru. Being able to work with children made the trip worthwhile. 

Douglas, UNCG Class of 2015

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Words cannot describe the experiences that I had in Peru. Being my first time out of the country, this truly was an unforgettable experience! I want to thank you for making this possible for not just me, but all of the science education and think tank students. Because of this trip, my wonder and love for the rainforest was confirmed. I was amazed by the culture and beautiful diversity that is Peru. Thank you again for all that you have done for me! I hope that you can continue to offer this amazing experience to others!

Rebecca, UNCG Class of 2014

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My time in Peru is something that I will remember for years to come. Because of this travel experience I will be able to tell my family, friends, and future students about the adventures in the rainforest, the beautiful culture that Peru has, and the love that I have for the students at the school we taught in. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity not only to travel to another country, but also to learn to love the country and to admire the many aspects of Peruvian culture. I was stretched outside of my comfort zone and because of it able to experience so much more. I am forever grateful for you and the JBQ Charitable Foundation for planning and executing this wonderful experience that I will never forget.

Courteney, UNCG Class of 2015

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Peru changed my life and nuzzled its way deep into a special place in my heart. I can’t even think of which was my favorite part: the beautiful and unique cities, the amazingly generous and kind people, or that school full of unforgettable children. Ok, that was an exaggeration. We all know that Manu was my favorite part, I am a biologist after all and Manu is an absolute wonderland. We found rainforest wildlife of all sorts, got poured on by a real rainforest rain in the middle of the night, slept in mosquito-netted bunk beds, and sat underneath the most magical starry sky I have ever seen. I have always wanted to work in conservation, with an interest in rainforests because of their sheer biodiversity, but having this experience ingrained that dream into me and gave me a motivating energy that I will use to get me through all the tough times still ahead of me in my education.

Yazmin, UNCG Class of 2014

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I am indebted with you for this wonderful opportunity that I would not otherwise have had experienced. Now I understand why you love Perú so much. It is full of life and wonder and there are so many awesome things about it; from the Peruvian jungle to the kindness of the people we came across. This trip was an exceptional learning experience; it brought me closer to nature and helped me develop a stronger love for the outdoors and our environment. I can’t wait to pass that love down to my students!

Mireya, UNCG Class of 2014

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This was the opportunity of a lifetime, where I learned a lot about Peru, the outdoors, and our surroundings. I learned more about wildlife and conserving the rainforest in order to preserve its beauty and animals that live there. Thanks to you, I can pass all the knowledge I obtained through this experience to my students.

William, UNCG Class of 2016

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... When I first heard about this trip, I'd never heard of Pachacamac, or Chorrillos, or even Cusco or Manu before. Even as I began to read about these places, during the weeks and months before departure, they remained names--just like the colorful illustrations in my Guide to the Birds of Peru - were flat, lifeless. I tried to learn, tried to understand, but I had no idea what it was really like until I was right there in the middle of it. The Peru trip was like one giant birthday present, unwrapped slowly over two weeks, each day, each hour bringing some dazzling new surprise. Despite my many careful checklists, I was unprepared for the unrestrained love of hundreds of schoolchildren, for our numerous jungle adventures. But most of all I was unprepared for the beauty. It was everywhere--from the great soaring sea-cliffs to the gigantic flatness of the lowland forests. And as I went from surprise to surprise, those things that had been mere names began to come alive. Those stiff illustrations were gradually replaced by the real thing, brightly colored and singing loudly. They're still coming alive, in fact--we had so many incredible experiences that I still haven't had time to remember them all! Even so, there's really no doubt that this was the most fantastic trip I've ever been on. And it was an honor and a joy to go on it with you. For all the long hours of planning, for all the careful choreography of buses and events and people, and for the generosity and will to share something that amazingly beautiful--thank you. 

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