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September 17, 2013

A Full Day of Orientation

Richard and Judy met the students at Casa Miraflores, the hostel where they spent their first night in Peru. As we set off along the Avenida Comandante Espinar, we suddenly found ourselves walking down a corridor of flag-waving, cheering school children. They were so happy to see us! We had no choice but to keep going until we got through this celebration, so we smiled and nodded. When we had a chance to ask what was going on, we learned that they were waiting to greet some North American visitors and thought we were them. So we received a warm…

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September 10, 2013

Meeting new families

Goshen students met their Lima host families after a long day of orientation, an exciting daylong tour of downtown and two nights in the Miraflores House (a hostel). The students prepared for the meetings by reviewing information about their families and studying (and practicing) such Peruvian customs as expanded greetings and farewells, which normally include hugs and air kisses. As they waited for their families in a comfortable lounge at the Anglican Cathedral of the Good Shepherd (Buen Pastor), the students all conceded that they were nervous. Some wondered what their new families and homes would be like. Some conceded…

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September 5, 2013

And so it begins! United Airlines Flight 854 arrived safely and on time from Houston, Texas, touching down at Jorge Chávez International Airport at 10:20 p.m. Wednesday night (Sept. 4). After moving through customs and immigration in 60 minutes, the seven Goshen College students appeared tired, relieved and cheerful, even when posing for the obligatory arrival photo for the folks back home. Accompanied by SST co-leaders Richard R. Aguirre and Judy Weaver and Celia Vasquez, our study coordinator, the students stepped outside and breathed in Lima’s 59-degree temperature – not too different than Goshen this time of year. The students…

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September 4, 2013

Since arriving in Peru, we (Richard R. Aguirre and Judy Weaver) have had many fascinating experiences. We have met warm and helpful people (often in unexpected places), made ourselves at home in Casa Goshen and visited fascinating museums and historic places, including Caral, site of the oldest known civilization in the Americas. Still, we have had no greater joy than meeting the families who have hosted Goshen College Study-Service Term students in Lima since this unit was established. Without exception, they are kind, generous and gracious and they have provided protection, support, friendship and deep affection to scores of GC…

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September 3, 2013

Welcome to the Peru Study-Service Term blog for Fall 2013! Goshen College students are scheduled to arrive late Wednesday (Sept. 4), which is when the fall program officially will begin. We (co-leaders Richard R. Aguirre and Judy Weaver) have been preparing the study-service program for the past six weeks and can hardly wait for the students to arrive. We are kicking off this blog with a brief report about our preparations for the unit and what we’ve been doing – besides meeting wonderful people and eating extraordinary food. Since arriving in Lima in late July, we have focused on learning…

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July 30, 2013

Departure

The students boarded a Peruvian bus one last time to travel from our home, Casa Goshen, to Lima’s Jorge Chavez Airport.  They checked in their luggage, received their boarding passes and posed for one last group photo.  They received their last minute instructions — first go through security, then immigration, then, if you like chocolate, try the samples in the Britta store near your departure gate.  Then we hugged and shared goodbyes and the students hopped on the escalator to ascend to the second floor departure area. Our family has had a rare privilege:  leading ten groups of students through…

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July 30, 2013

Retreat

The semester ended with a final retreat in Kauai, a conference center located on the Pacific Coast two hours south of Lima.  This is winter in the southern hemisphere and the weather is cloudy and cold.  No matter — whether hot or cold, sunny or overcast, the view is immense, the ocean timeless and the beach a fitting setting for the students’ final days in Peru.  This last weekend together was a time for reflection, a chance to tell stories and begin saying our goodbyes.  It was also a time for questions:  What have we learned while studying, serving and…

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July 27, 2013

Service in Oxapampa

Jessica and Cara’s service assignment is in Oxapampa.  This charming town of 10,000 inhabitants is sometimes called “Little Switzerland.”  An immigrant population from Austria and Germany settled here in the late 19th century and the food, architecture and certain aspects of the local culture have a distinct European flavor.  At 1.800 meters (5,905 feet) above sea level, the temperatures are pleasant — not too hot, not too cold — although many residents are noticing the affects of climate change.  This “summer” (dry) season is a lot more like the “winter” (wet) season than people are accustomed to. Jessica serves at…

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July 26, 2013

Service in Marankiari

Petey and Clayton are serving in an indigenous community perched on a hillside far above the Perene River valley.  San Miguel de Marankiari is home to several dozen native Ashaninka families, most of whom are descended from a common great-great-grandfather.  The Ashaninka people are quickly becoming westernized due to forces outside their control.  Ecomundos, a nonprofit organization founded by members of the community, is attempting to preserve key aspects of Ashaninka identity and customs.  Their hope is that cultural tourism, in which foreigners pay to visit and stay overnight in the community in order to experience the unique aspects of…

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July 24, 2013

Service in Chanchamayo

Philip, Elizabeth and Jenna are serving in the province of Chanchamayo.  This is the gateway to the selva central, Peru’s central rain forest.  It is the dry season in the jungle, but there is still enough rain to keep the surrounding hillsides lush and green.  The city where the students volunteer, San Ramon, is situated on the eastern flank of the Andes mountains.  At 770 meters (2,526 feet) above sea level, the temperatures are warm, sometimes hot, during the day.  The evenings are cool and pleasant.  The natural world resembles a paradise in this part of Peru, but life in…

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