Recent Posts

October 26, 2012

We began our adventure in the Andes, tallest mountains in the Western Hemisphere, with an afternoon tour of Sacsayhuaman.  This epic archaeological site is perched above the city of Cusco.  Built by the Inca civilization, it features a three-layered string of giant stones shaped like a lightning bolt and fitted together like pieces of a giant puzzle.  According to our guide, Hector, each layer represents an aspect of the Inca trilogy: the under world (where we came from), the surface of the earth (where we are) and the heavens above (where our spirits go after death). After a few hours…

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October 23, 2012

Last Days in Lima

The students finished their time in Lima, Peru’s bustling capital, with exams, language practice, a visit to a fortress, a tour of downtown and a workshop on jewelry-making. Eliana and Ricardo Mauriola Carrasco supplement their family’s income by producing custom-made jewelry from seeds collected in the rainforest.  Each student chose an item — a bracelet or necklace — then selected a variety of seeds, settled on a design and got to work fashioning a unique piece of jewelry. Downtown Lima is a fascinating place, a mix of colonial (1535-1821), republican (post-1821) and modern architecture centered around the city’s main square,…

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October 17, 2012

Children living on the margins of society are especially vulnerable.  Several speakers — the director of a school for the deaf, a gifted musician and a public-sector systems analyst — explained what they are doing to provide education and opportunity to marginalized children. EFATA School was started by an American missionary named Vernon Miller, a deaf man with a passion for teaching sign language.  The school’s director, Clelia Ocampo, described how sign language was brought to Peru and how her staff educates deaf children, many of whom live in dormitories on-site.  Jorge Garrido Lecca is a guitarist and entrepreneur who…

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October 7, 2012

CEBE María Auxiliadora (Mary our Helper Center for Basic Special Education) is a public school located in a middle class neighborhood in Lima’s San Borja district.  Disabled children are brought here from all over the metropolitan area to learn and develop basic life skills.  Some of the students are diagnosed with Down syndrome, others with autism and at least one with cerebral palsy — all with special abilities. We were met at the door of the school by the director, María Barnett, who introduced us to her multidisciplinary team of teachers and support staff.  By law all schools must admit…

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October 2, 2012

Peru is a “middle-income” country:  the average Peruvian earns the equivalent of $10,160 per year, taking into account the local exchange rate and cost of living.  But incomes are distributed much less equally than in the U.S. and most other countries on earth.  How did the large gap between rich and poor come about?  And how does this inequality affect Peru’s politics, religion and art? Eduardo Arroyo is an author and sociologist who writes on the topic of race and class in Peru.  In his talk, Dr. Arroyo explained how income, wealth and political power were concentrated in the hands…

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September 19, 2012

Lima is a desert — the area receives less than an inch of rainfall each year.  How does this city produce enough food for 8 million people?  It doesn’t — food is trucked in from the Andes mountains and the Amazonian rainforest.  Without access to distant markets, the population would starve.  Recognizing the precarious nature of this arrangement, the local government is encouraging people to plant community gardens.  We visited one such garden, known as Paraiso (Paradise), with the intention of helping out. Of course, there are many ways to help when it comes to gardening.  Planting, weeding and harvesting…

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September 17, 2012

We often take for granted the pipes that bring drinking water into our homes and take waste water away to the treatment center.  But what would it be like to live in a house without running water or a sewage system? We didn’t need to drive very far from our program’s headquarters to find out.  Less than an hour from Good Shepherd Church in Miraflores is one of many neighborhoods that were began as “invasions” within the last several decades.  The sector we visited, Chavin de Huantar in the city of Villa El Salvador, is 13 years old.  In 1999,…

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September 15, 2012

Life on the Margins

Peru has a proud past.  The Inca civilization is most notable, but many other cultures thrived in this part of the world thousands of years before the rise of the Incas and their conquest by the Spanish.  In many ways, these cultures were in the center of their known worlds.  Today, however, Peru is considered a developing nation, a country that often finds itself on the margins of the world stage.  This semester we will focus on what life is like for people who live on the edge, in a sense, of economic, social, cultural, religious, environmental and political structures….

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September 9, 2012

Families

After two days of orientation the students moved out of the Miraflores House and prepared themselves to meet their new host families.  Members of the families appeared in rapid succession to pick up the students.  We shared a cup of tea and a cookie or two, took a photo of each student with their new hosts, then said goodbye. One family, Micah’s, was not able to come to pick him up due to a medical emergency.  Everything turned out fine and Micah arrived at his new home several hours later than planned.  We’ll post a photo of him with a…

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September 8, 2012

Orientation

Lima is a different world, a growing metropolis that straddles the narrow desert plain between the Andes mountains and the Pacific Ocean.  The area receives only a centimeter (less than half an inch) of rain each year.  Rivers like the Rimac, which originate high in the glacier-laden Andes, provide water for human consumption and green spaces.  Amazingly, over 9 million people live here, a third of Peru’s population.  And, for the next 4 1/2 weeks, eighteen Goshen College students will add their presence to this dynamic city, accepting the hospitality of their host families and learning everything they can about…

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