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June 10, 2012

Service Begins

This morning the students, all 21 of them, boarded a bus for the central region of Peru to begin their six-week service assignments. Three will volunteer in Tarma, a beautiful city located in the Andean highlands, teaching in a Catholic school and working with children in a program sponsored by Compassion International.  Six will live and work in the sister cities of San Ramon and La Merced, spending time with kids in an after school program, teaching at a school for special needs, assisting at a medical clinic and volunteering at a fair-trade coffee organization. Two will live in Oxapampa,…

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June 10, 2012

Adios, Lima

We said goodbye to our Lima host families by inviting them to share an evening with us.  We played games and enjoyed a program of drama, dance and song. We also shared American-style refreshments prepared with delicious Peruvian ingredients — sandwiches, salads, kettle corn, cake and passion fruit juice. The students shared their gratitude for the time spent together with their Lima hosts.  Early Sunday morning they depart for their service locations. Muchisimas gracias, familias!

June 5, 2012

A Closer Look

As we approach the end of our study time in Lima, we deepened our perspective on what it is like to live and work here by listening to speakers who have migrated here from other places and then traveling to the edge of this sprawling metropolitan area. Father Jeff Klaiber is originally from Indianapolis.  He came to Peru to work as a priest and learn about liberation theology in the 1970s.  An author and university professor, Father Klaiber taught us about the role of the Catholic Church in Latin American politics over the last 200 years. Jerry Acosta is originally…

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June 2, 2012

Downtown

Lima — the City of the Kings — was founded in 1535 by Francisco Pizarro.  For almost three centuries it served as the political and economic hub of the Spanish Empire in western South America.  In 1821 Peru gained independence from the Spanish crown and Lima became the capital of a new nation.  Today over 9 million people call Lima home — most of its residents are first- and second-generation migrants from the Andes and rain forest who have moved here in search of work and education. We spent a day with our study coordinator, Celia, learning about the history…

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May 28, 2012

Lima Culture

During our first week in Peru’s capital we began learning about local criollo culture.  Celia Vasquez, our study coordinator, described Limeno greetings, habits and cuisine.  James Plunkett, an American businessman who migrated here 48 years ago, taught us about Peruvian politics and economics.  Father Eduardo Arens spoke about Jesus’ use of humor in the gospel of Mark and recent developments in the Catholic Church.  Pedro Farias taught us dances from the coast, southern mountains and rain forest. To learn more about animals and, in particular, the famed caballo de paso, we visited the Instituto Superior Tecnologico Privado de Tecnicas Agropecuarias…

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May 26, 2012

Lima Families

We returned to Peru’s capital after our time of study, service and travel in the Andes and were greeted by Celia, our study coordinator, Alicia, our program assistant, and twenty-one eager host families.  We introduced the students to their new family members, shared coffee and sandwiches, and snapped photos before they departed for their new homes.

May 24, 2012

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is one of the “New 7 Wonders of the World,” a list that includes the Great Wall (China), Petra (Jordan), Christ the Redeemer (Brazil), Chichen Itza (Mexico), the Colosseum (Italy) and the Taj Majal (India). Scholars believe that Machu Picchu (“Old Mountain” in Quechua) was a refuge for the Inca Pachacutec, a sort of “Camp David” perched atop a mountain and surrounded on three sides by water. We were awestruck by the sight of this magnificent place and the entire group — 21 students, 2 directors and 4 children — hiked to the top of Huayna Picchu (“Young…

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May 24, 2012

The Incas

The Inca culture is known worldwide for its epic architecture.  Temples, palaces and fortresses were assembled from massive stones cut from nearby quarries and fitted together like a puzzle.  We visited two classic examples:  Sacsayhuaman and Ollantaytambo. Sacsayhuaman is a huge complex perched on a hill overlooking the city of Cusco, the Inca’s capital.  The main construction is a three-layered wall designed in the shape of a lightning bolt.  Lightning is of mythical importance since it intersects three realms — the heavens (home of the condor), the earth (home of the puma) and the underworld (home of the serpent). Ollantaytambo…

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May 20, 2012

A Changing World

Our theme this semester is, “A Changing World; A Changing Peru”.   In order to appreciate where Peru is going, we need to know where it has been.   If we had a time machine we could travel back to the era before the Spanish Conquest to see how Andean people lived, worked and played before the influences of colonialism and globalization.  Absent such a machine, we ventured higher into the Andes for several days to experience life in a village where ancient traditions are still prevalent. San Juan de Quihares is three hours from Huacarpay via a seldom-used unpaved road.  Our…

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May 16, 2012

There are many ways to gain understanding of a culture — lectures, workshops, service projects and learning tours. Juan Carlos returned for a second time to teach us more about Andean spirituality.  Catarina, an agronomy professor at San Antonio Abad National University in Cusco, described the political, social and environmental realities of mining. Jesica and Herbert demonstrated traditional folk dances from the Cusco region and walked us through the steps.  Some of the traditional beliefs and ethics presented by Juan Carlos and Catarina were embodied in these dances.  To understand their rhythms and cadence we needed to try them ourselves!…

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