Recent Posts

May 10, 2013

We began our first week of study with a colloquium presentation on income and poverty in Peru — how poor is this country relative to the U.S.?  We discovered that the average income is about five times higher in the U.S. when the difference in cost of living is accounted for.  But Peru’s average income is growing about three times faster and the poverty rate is falling quickly.  And compared to other SST countries (e.g. Nicaragua, Cambodia), income is several times higher and much less equally distributed.  There is tremendous wealth concentrated in the capital of Lima, much of it…

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May 7, 2013

Life in the Andes

If our purpose is to study the changes happening in Peru — the movement from a traditional Andean culture to a society influenced by North America and connected to the global economy – it makes sense to begin in the beginning.  If we had a time machine, we’d simply dial back to the 1400′s, a century before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors on South American soil, and experience life in an Inca village.  But Apple hasn’t invented this device yet– or at least it hasn’t been released to the public.  So instead we boarded a jet for Cusco, one-time…

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May 4, 2013

Orientation

This country is incredibly diverse — how do we even begin to learn about Peru and the changes that are taking place here as the nation evolves from a people steeped in Inca culture and tradition to an up-and-coming global player? The students began their first day on Peruvian soil walking the streets of Miraflores, recovering from their 24-hour journey from Goshen and taking in the sights, sounds and smells all around them.  The district of Miraflores and neighboring San Isidro are affluent by any standard.  The group instantly recognized names and businesses that are common in North America:  Starbucks,…

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May 2, 2013

Arrival

Twenty-two students stepped into the cool evening air outside Lima’s Jorge Chavez International Airport an hour and a half ago.  The group appeared weary from a long journey, but happy to be here at last and definitely ready to begin a new adventure.  They made it through immigration and customs in record time, about an hour, and we boarded the bus for a quiet hostel in Miraflores.  Tomorrow we begin the program with a day of orientation here in Peru’s capital.  Now it’s time to get some rest.    

May 1, 2013

Preparation

As we prepare to welcome our next group of SST students we reflect on these words from Henri Nouwen: “Latin America:  impressive wealth and degrading poverty, splendid flowers and dusty broken roads, loving people and cruel torturers, smiling children and soldiers who kill.  It is here that we have to hunt for God’s treasure.” And hunt we will… But before we were ready to receive the 22 students who will step off the plane Wednesday night, we needed to travel north to Ecuador to renew our visas, rest our bodies and refresh our spirits.  We celebrated three birthdays — Sierra’s…

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April 8, 2013

Departure

Excitement mixed with sadness permeated the air at Casa Goshen.  The students had two hours to pack up their belongings, making sure their suitcases weighed in at just under 50 pounds.  We shared a final dinner prepared by Glicerio, Alicia’s son-in-law, who was trained in culinary arts at the Marriot Hotel in Miraflores — the strips of beef melted in our mouths and the maracuya (passion fruit) juice tingled our tongues.  Celia, our study coordinator, and several host families dropped by to say goodbye.  Then, in groups of twos and fours, the students lugged their suitcases down the three sets…

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April 8, 2013

Retreat

The Spring 2013 Study Service Term in Peru finished with a retreat at the Scripture Union Center in Kauai.  Located two hours south of Lima, Kauai is situated on a sandy beach far from the hustle and bustle of the city.  The students presented the research they did while on service, with topics ranging from “Peruvian Forms of Healing” to “Adobe in the Jungle.”  We worshiped together and talked about returning to the US, including the phenomenon of reverse culture shock.  And we enjoyed some recreation on the beach — this is the end of summer in the southern hemisphere…

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April 5, 2013

Hope

Emma and Mandy are volunteering at two preschools and one after-school program in the rain forest city of Oxapampa.  According to anecdotes from Peruvian teachers and school administrators, the nation’s education system is underfunded, with underpaid teachers, classrooms devoid of basic supplies and a pedagogy that emphasizes rote memory over creativity or critical thinking.  Conscious that the system is not preparing students adequately for adult life, the students are pushed harder each year.  But the added pressure does little to improve outcomes; it frustrates and discourages the children. One teacher recently quipped, “They are burned out by first grade.”  To…

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April 4, 2013

Coffee

Jesse volunteers at a family-owned coffee farm called Fundo Almorique.  Coffee is the second-most traded product in the world, second only to petroleum in its importance as an export.  Hundreds of millions of people drink coffee each day, enjoying the aroma of a freshly-brewed cup and feeling the lift generated by a dose of caffeine.  But most of the people who enjoy the beverage know little if anything about where it comes from or how it is produced.  While coffee is consumed in large quantities in the Global North it is produced in the Global South, mostly in tropical countries…

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April 2, 2013

Native

Jacob and Joseph are volunteering for a nonprofit organization called Ecomundos in the native village of San Miguel de Marankiari.  As the world becomes ever more modern and ever more globalized, indigenous people are pressured to acculturate, becoming like everyone else.  Many move to the cities and change both the way they dress and the foods they eat.  Their native tongue is forgotten in favor of colonial languages such as Spanish, French and English.  Their children are ashamed to identify themselves as members of an indigenous group and the customs and traditions passed on from generation to generation quickly pass…

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