Recent Posts

July 12, 2011

Service in Ayacucho

Ayacucho is one of Peru’s most historically significant places. During the 6th century A.D., when the Wari civilization ruled much of Peru, its capital was located just outside of what is now Ayacucho. Twelve hundred years later, in 1824, Peru’s struggle for independence from Spain ended in victory with the Battle of Ayacucho. And it was here in the late 1970s that the revolutionary Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) movement started, with the goal of destroying the existing society to build a new communist state. The battle that ensued between Shining Path and Peruvian government forces resulted in an estimated 69,000…

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July 11, 2011

Service in Tarma

Tucked in the mountains and surrounded by fields of flowers, Tarma is known as the “Pearl of the Andes.” That moniker may be a little grandiose for this unassuming town of about 52,000 residents, but it certainly communicates the warmth and welcoming nature of this central highlands town. Three SSTers, Kayla, Caleb, and Mara, are working at the Fe y Alegría school (Faith and Hope) in Tarma, which is part of a network of more than 2,000 Catholic schools in South America that provides quality education for low-income students. The school, which is high on a mountain overlooking the town,…

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July 6, 2011

Service in Chanchamayo

This time of year—winter—Limeños who tire of cold, overcast, drizzly weather can find some sun in the Peruvian jungle, or selva. The closest point, La Merced, is an eight-hour bus trip along steep, winding roads. On the journey there, travelers get a view of Peru’s three regions: the arid coast, the spectacular mountains, and the lush, green jungle. La Merced (pop. approx. 50,000) is the provincial capital of the Chanchamayo region, which is blessed with warm weather, waterfalls, and superb coffee and fruit production (bananas, pineapple, citrus fruits, and avocados). Two of our SSTers are experiencing that agricultural sector firsthand…

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July 6, 2011

service in chimbote

The coastal city of Chimbote is not for the faint of heart: According to the Pan American Health Organization, at least 45 percent of the city’s residents live in conditions of extreme poverty. The international aid organization CARE reports that the average Chimbotano only earns about $300 each year, and the Worldwatch Institute reports that life expectancy in Chimbote is 10 years lower than Peru’s national average. But more than 400,000 people call Chimbote home–including, for six weeks, four SSTers who are working with Los Amigos. Jonathan, Maria, Minda, and Nate were welcomed right away by the dedicated people at…

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July 2, 2011

Ready for service

From planting trees to performing ultrasounds to practicing English with students, the Peru SSTers jumped right in to the service portion of the semester. They just wrapped up week #2 on service and have gracefully transitioned into their new environments, each student getting to know a new host family, a new home, a new town, a new job. Next week we’ll be posting news and photos from students at their service sites. In the meantime, here are photos from their departure from Lima. Jenae, Kimberly, Peter, and Tahnee took an overnight bus to the mountain town of Ayacucho, about 365…

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June 20, 2011

So long, farewell…

To mark the end of the first half of the semester—and the completion of the students’ time in Lima—we gathered at the Good Shepherd Cathedral hall on Friday night to celebrate with our host families, language professors, coordinators, and other friends of the program. The students put together an impressive evening of entertainment, including music (both singing and a drumming performance on the Peruvian cajón), dance, and an individual speech (in Spanish!) from each student to his or her host family. They also treated the audience to two theatrical performances: the original comical skit “¡Gringos dicen cosas muy graciosas!”  (“Gringos…

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June 16, 2011

Thanksgiving in Peru

Overheard one morning last week: a conversation between SSTers about the food from home they were missing the most. Barbecue topped the list for a couple of students. Fortunately for all of us (but maybe especially for them) our lunch plans that day involved heading south to the district of Villa Maria, where Alicia and her family were preparing pachamanca for us. Pachamanca, a traditional highlands meal, is something of a barbecue/Thanksgiving hybrid in which chicken (or other meat), potatoes, beans, tamales, and sweet potatoes are cooked underground by heated rocks. It’s a major undertaking typically reserved for special occasions,…

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June 15, 2011

Match Day

Today we had our own version of Match Day, when the SSTers learned where they would be going for service and what they would be doing. The energy level was high as each opened an envelope revealing information about the next six weeks. Without further ado, here’s the lineup: Ayacucho/Quinua (mountains): Jenae, Kim, Peter, Tahnee Chimbote (coast): Jonathan, Maria, Minda, Nathan La Merced/San Ramon (jungle): Greg, Jenn, Karina, Matt, Naomi Tarma (mountains): Caleb, Kayla, Mara We spent much of this morning going over service expectations and logistics. This Saturday and Sunday each group will take a bus from Lima to…

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June 15, 2011

arts alive!

The past few weeks Peru SSTers have sampled a variety of Peruvian art forms. From the oil paintings and wood sculptures of the Museum Pedro de Osma in Lima to the traditional dance performances at the Qosqo Center of Native Art in Cusco, we have encountered the strong artistic spirit of this country. No encounter has been as close, however, as our workshop with Pedro Farias, a professional dancer who introduced us to three traditional Peruvian dances—one from the coast, one from the jungle, and one from the mountains. After Pedro demonstrated the moves, the SSTers took to the dance…

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June 12, 2011

Our recent visit to Hospital María Auxiliadora was a chance to get an inside view of how health care is delivered to poor Peruvians. The range of medical facilities in Lima is broad: For those with insurance or the ability to pay, private clinics offer state-of-the-art care. Those who have paid into the national social security program through their jobs are eligible to use  social security hospitals. And those who have neither private insurance, social security benefits, nor the ability to pay, have access to hospitals run by the Ministry of Health, such as Hospital María Auxiliadora in the district…

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