Recent Posts

October 25, 2014

If one had to pick a town in which to spend the night en route to Machu Picchu, Ollantaytambo would be among the best places anywhere in the highlands. More than 500 years ago, Ollantaytambo served as an important rest stop and administrative and religious center for the Incas. It’s still an enviable rest stop (and a 90-minute train ride from Aguas Calientes, from which you can climb or take a bus to Machu Picchu). The weather is warmer here than in most of the Andes due to its relatively low elevation (2,800 meters, or about 9,186 feet) and placement…

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October 20, 2014

The morning after thanking our Lima host families and saying goodbye at the despedida, we left for Cusco, the capital of the Incan empire and gateway to the Sacred Valley, a valley that we would soon follow en route to Machu Picchu. We reserved free time for most of the first day in Cusco, whether taking naps or just taking it easy, giving our bodies time to adjust. Although Machu Picchu looms larger in most imaginations, Cusco actually claims a higher elevation. Cusco sits at around 3,400 meters in the Andes, or 11,200 feet, compared with about 2,430 meters, or…

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October 17, 2014

La Despedida: Saying Good-Bye

For one night anyway, Goshen students did the serving. At the end of five weeks of living and studying in Lima, and on the eve of leaving for a week in Cusco and the Sacred Valley, and then moving on to service assignments, students welcomed their host families to the salon of the Anglican Cathedral of the Good Shepherd (Buen Pastor). More than 50 family members filled tables around the room. Acting in the role of waitstaff, students carried in plates of tortilla chips and homemade salsa; vegetables and homemade bean dip; corn and cheese nuggets; grapes, mango and melon…

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October 15, 2014

Mariah shares a journal essay: I have never really seen the world in color. I have never wanted to distinguish between black people, brown people, white people. I view people as equals. Race, class and culture don’t affect the way I see people. Or so I thought. I have never had to confront my own prejudices to the extent that I have had to while on SST because I have never been a minority person. I have never been so acutely aware of the color of my skin, eyes and hair because I didn’t have to until now.  Because everyone…

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October 15, 2014

Art of Tap, Teas and Seeds

During the first half of the SST semester in Peru, students participated in a series of interactive workshops related to dance, music, herbs and jewelry-making. Alicia Taipe Tello, a longtime cook and cultural guide for Goshen College, served as the first presenter of the term, introducing students to an array of Andean herbs and their healing properties. Alicia, who as a child herself helped to care for her younger sister at home in the Andes, said she would make teas of chamomile and other herbs for the baby when there was no milk. “Growing up, we didn’t have a lot of…

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October 13, 2014

During the first six weeks of our SST semester in Peru, more than a dozen people provided presentations (often with PowerPoint slides), on subjects like the War of the Pacific, food and the Peruvian trademark, health care, the Catholic Church, the Shining Path, poetry and more. Classes were held four days a week at la Catedral del Buen Pastor (the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd), an Anglican church in the Miraflores district of Lima. Mornings were usually reserved for lectures and workshops, with instruction in Spanish and sign language in the afternoon. As in the past, one of our initial speakers was…

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October 2, 2014

Bryan shares a journal entry: My final weekend here in Lima was as it should’ve been, eventful.  This past Saturday, after an afternoon spent traveling, I found myself traveling some more, to Puente Piedra. It was just a stone’s throw away from my home district, Comas. Alongside me were my host mother, sister and aunt.  Communication is a constant struggle here, so all I got out of the conversation attempt on the bus was that we were going to see someone famous.  I’m sure that I missed much of the conversation, but just as with everything else, I rolled with…

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September 28, 2014

Señora Gregoria Flores leads the way past rows of lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, beets, cilantro, parsley, potatoes and more. We’re following her trail, surrounded by lush terraces of green, in a place where a garden has no business growing: Villa María del Triunfo. We’re on arid, sandy land. And we’re walking underneath high-tension power lines, surrounded by the most humble of homes, each one seemingly built on the back of another. Villa María, a southern district of Lima that was founded more than 50 years ago, is home to more than 360,000 people, many of whom struggle with underemployment, poverty…

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September 25, 2014

Tracking Money to the Centimo

While I was preparing for SST during the summer, I was thrilled to see that the American dollar was worth 2.8 times more than the nuevo sol, Peru’s currency. In my mind, I pictured being able to buy tons of goodies and gifts for practically nothing. When I landed in Lima’s airport, this dream seemed even more possible. My mere 120 American dollars transformed themselves into 300 soles! Unfortunately, what I failed to realize was that many items in Peru are priced very closely to American prices and require more soles than one would imagine. My first experience with this…

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September 21, 2014

We traveled to the home of Victor Delfín, one of Peru’s most celebrated artists, expecting that our visit would end the streak of interviews he has granted SST groups over the years. We planned to tour the house but not see Delfín himself on this day; a museum staff member had alerted us earlier that Delfín was recovering from a cold or some kind of bug that had kept him in bed. His seaside home in Barranco serves as a residence, studio and gallery. A guide led us through rooms upstairs and downstairs, pausing to tell us about dozens of paintings, sculptures…

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