Learning is fun — especially when it is relevant to life in contemporary Peru. The week began with a lecture by James Plunkett on national politics and current events. Mr. Plunkett moved to Lima in the 1960s. He engaged us by telling the story of his life while simultaneously educating us about the presidents who have led this country for the past 45 years.
After breaking for coffee, Alicia Taipe Tello told us her life story, beginning with her childhood in the Andean city of Huancayo. Her mother was known for her knowledge of medicinal herbs and Alicia explained how a dozen different plants are used to soothe the stomach, calm the nerves or cure a sore throat. She prepared a variety of teas and the students enjoyed the chance to sample each one.
The next day we learned about the Catholic Church in Latin America from a published author and university professor, Father Jeff Klaiber. Like Mr. Plunkett, Father Klaiber moved to Peru as a young man and has resided in Lima for decades. He is an authority on liberation theology and explained the complex and changing interactions between the church and the state in South America from the conquest to the present.
The students have also been studying Spanish with their capable instructors: Irene, Moises and Ana. This is particularly urgent since each student lives with a Spanish-speaking family and relies on public transportation to get to school each day. Fortunately, our instructors have decades of experience teaching Spanish to extranjeros like ourselves and have developed their own teaching materials and methods. Aprendimos mucho — we’re learning a lot!