Goshen College Study-Service Term heads south to Perú

GOSHEN, Ind. – It is a country known for Machu Picchu, llamas and descendants of Incan culture. Goshen College students will now have the opportunity to study Perú in-depth, and engage in service there.

For the first time, the Goshen College Study-Service Term (SST) program will be hosted in a South American country when students and their leaders go to Perú in the summer of 2005 – making it the 20th country to host Goshen College students since the program started in 1968.

With the closing of the Cuba SST unit this past summer, “we needed to look elsewhere,” said Tom Meyers, director of international education. “Spanish is the language that most students are coming to college having studied in high school or have an interest in learning. We have consistently had more Spanish units than other languages and it is clear we continue to need more than one Spanish location.”

Meyers visited Perú in June 2004 on an exploratory trip, though the college’s international education committee had been talking about Perú, as well as other Spanish options, for about a year. “After a week of exploration I was convinced that we could run a program – there were ways to do every aspect of our program,” Meyers said. Currently, an in-country GC contact is doing on-the-ground work of organizing service assignments and other logistics.

“We are always looking for a place where students can live with families, nationals who can teach about the life experience of the people, locations that have service opportunities and ultimately the ability to create a program that is significantly different than the typical university-based program,” Meyers said, “We have talked about South America for a long time, but cost of travel was prohibitive. Today airfare to Perú costs nearly the same as it does to the Caribbean. It seemed very clear that we could have both a financially viable and a very exciting unit consistent with our mission for SST.”

Located in South America along the Pacific Ocean, just south of the equator, Perú is home to the Andes Mountains, the Amazon rainforest, a desert blanketing the coast and a wealthy capital surrounded by shantytowns. It is a country of contrasts – making it very appealing as an SST location.

Sixty percent of the country’s population is made up of indigenous people – the Quechua, descendents of the ancient Incas. “Students who go to Perú will experience some of the best of Spanish culture, but tempered with a strong indigenous flavor,” said Assistant Professor of Spanish Dean Rhodes, who will lead the first group with his spouse Becky. Rhodes first lived in Perú in the 1970s while serving a term with Mennonite Central Committee, and led a group of GC students there during May 2004.

Students can anticipate studying for the first six weeks at the Instituto de Idiomas of the Catholic University, a premiere Spanish language-training institute, as they live with families in Lima – a modern, growing city with eight to 10 million people. During daily seminars students will explore the vibrant Incan and pre-Incan history, the 1980s civil war, as well as lectures on the success of the women’s movement in Perú. And Meyers said, “There will opportunities to learn about globalization and the mass migration to urban centers in the Third World.”

During the second half of their three month stay, students will spread out across the country to live with families and volunteer at service assignments, which might include working with clinics and hospitals in the Amazon, volunteering at a Quechua women’s weaving cooperative or working with a nonprofit such as Eastern Mennonite Missions, World Vision or Habitat for Humanity.

Students can anticipate the cuisine they will encounter as Rhodes noted that it “is wonderful,” with a lot of seafood. The food is a combination of influences from the indigenous people in the Andes and the Amazon, the Spanish and Africans. One delicacy is roast guinea pig.

Meyers reports that there is already a high level of student interest and requests for Perú. “Any time we start a new program, it brings a new level of energy to the program,” he said.

Since the first SST units went to Costa Rica, Jamaica and Guadaloupe in 1968 and began one of the country’s most unique international education programs, more than 6,500 students and 230 faculty leaders have traveled to 19 countries; the college currently organizes SST units to study and serve in China, Dominican Republic, Germany, Indonesia, Ethiopia and Senegal. The program’s uncommon combination of cultural education and service-learning remains a core part of the general education program, and has earned citations for excellence from U.S.News and World Report, Peterson’s Study Abroad and Smart Parents Guide to College, the John Templeton Foundation and American Council on Education.

For more information about Goshen’s SST program, as well as photos, journals and videos from past groups, visit https://www.goshen.edu/sst/.

Goshen College, established in 1894, is a four-year residential Christian liberal arts college rooted in the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition. The college’s Christ-centered core values – passionate learning, global citizenship, compassionate peacemaking and servant-leadership – prepare students as leaders for the church and world. Recognized for its unique Study-Service Term program, Goshen has earned citations of excellence in Barron’s Best Buys in Education, “Colleges of Distinction,” “Making a Difference College Guide” and U.S.News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges” edition, which named Goshen a “least debt college.” Visit https://www.goshen.edu.

Editors: For more information, contact News Bureau Director Jodi H. Beyeler at (574) 535-7572 or jodihb@goshen.edu.