Recent Posts

June 26, 2013

Service in Chiclayo

Whitney and Justin are volunteering at a special needs hospital on the northern coast of Peru.  Hogar Clinica Juan de Dios offers medical treatment, physical therapy and educational programs to children diagnosed with cerebral palsy and other physical disabilities.  The hospital serves twenty-six children from the Chiclayo region, a sunny coastal plain located some thirteen hours by overnight bus from Lima.  Chiclayo, the fourth largest city in Peru, was founded several centuries ago by the Spanish.  The clinic actually lies ten kilometers west of the city, a short distance from the Pacific Ocean and the coastal town of Pimentel. Each…

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June 19, 2013

The study portion of the Peru Study Service Term came to a close with a despedida (farewell party) for the Lima host families, language instructors and coordinators.  The students sang a couple of songs, performed a skit comparing the life of a student in the US to that of a student in Lima, and thanked their families, teachers, coordinators and directors for the their contributions to the program.  The centerpiece of the evening was a play entitled, “The Story of Quinua,” a humorous account of the ancient discovery of this high-protein grain high in the Andes, its use in Peruvian…

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June 17, 2013


Learning comes in many forms.  Lectures by Nestor Vergara, Jerry Acosta, Maria Lopez and Father Jeff Klaiber taught us much about living conditions at the edge of Lima, life in Peru during the time of terrorism and the Catholic Church in Latin America.  Workshops with Pedro Farias, Alicia Taipe Tello, Eliana Carrasco and Senora Gregoria gave us opportunities to learn about traditional dance, medicinal herbs, jewelry making and urban gardening.  Classes with Moises Arces Zavala, Ana Bracamonte and Biviana Goto Sanchez helped the students improve their command of Castellano, the term used for Spanish here in Peru, to better communicate…

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June 12, 2013


Lima, Peru’s bustling capital, was founded in 1535 by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro.  He intended to establish a capital accessible to Spanish ships, a place to export the gold and silver he found here as well as bring more Europeans to the region.  Pizarro built a city centered around the Plaza de Armas (the central plaza where his troops would parade and show off their military technology).  On one side of the plaza is the large cathedral where Pizarro himself was laid to rest after a successful assassination attempt by a group of rival Spanish soldiers.  On another is the…

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June 2, 2013

Life on the Coast

The students have spent the past week getting to know Lima.  They have spent time with their new host families.  They have learned how to travel by bus from their family’s home to Iglesia Buen Pastor (Good Shepherd Church) where we meet each morning.  They have met a new set of lecturers, workshop leaders and Spanish instructors.  And they are quickly becoming accustomed to life at a faster pace, the pace of a city that continues to grow, a city that has its eyes turned toward the Global North. James Plunkett  is an American business person who fell in love…

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May 28, 2013

Lima Families

Lima is a lively, bustling city of 9 million people.  People come here from all over Peru in search of work, education, medical treatment or, simply, new opportunities.  We arrived here several days ago from our three-week adventure in the Andes to begin the Lima portion of our study program.  The students will spend the next three weeks listening to lectures, taking part in workshops, studying Spanish and visiting a variety of places in this growing metropolitan area.  They will also get to know a new set of host families.   On the evening we arrived the new host mothers, fathers,…

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May 27, 2013

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu means “old mountain” in Quechua.  The greatest Inca ruler, Pachucutec, built this citadel atop a giant granite outcropping many years before the arrival of the Spanish  in 1532.  Archaeologists believe that the city provided a place for the Inca ruler and his predecessors to rest — a royal retreat center for the king and his court.  It was also a religious site, as evidenced by the fine stone work and temples situated around the city.  Perhaps it was here that Pachucutec had his grand revelation:  there must be a God greater than the sun, Inti, worshiped by his…

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May 26, 2013

Sacred Valley

The Wilcamayu — Quechua for “Sacred River” — flows through one of the most beautiful and historic valleys of Peru.  We began our five-day tour in central Cusco, capital of the Inca Realm that once extended from modern day Colombia all the way south into Chile.  The Inca people referred to Cusco as the “Navel of the World.”  After lunch we traveled to Pisac where we left our bus and hiked seven kilometers — a little over four miles — from a fascinating archaeological site tucked into the mountains to the market town at the base of the Sacred Valley. …

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May 22, 2013

Mountains and Valleys

The Andes are a fascinating place, steeped in history and buzzing with activity.  It is commonly held that the Inca people believed in a variety of dieties, including the sun, the stars and the snow-capped mountains.  But one of our speakers, Juan Carlos Machicado, has a different perspective on Andean spirituality.  His studies of Spanish manuscripts and Inca archaeology, along with visits to distant communities where the old ways are still practiced, lead him to the conclusion that the Incas as well as many cultures that preceded them believed in a creator God named Wiracocha who, along with Pachamama (mother…

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May 19, 2013

The Peasantry

We are reading a book entitled A Path of Our Own: An Andean Village and Tomorrow’s Economy of Values.  The author, Adam K. Webb, describes how more than one-third of the earth’s inhabitants live as peasants.  Subsistence farmers, they plant crops and tend animals much as their ancestors did.  While many in the Global North consider this lifestyle backward or undeveloped, Webb points out that peasant life can have redeeming qualities.  The peasantry places a greater emphasis on traditional values such as equity and fairness, life in community, family ties and a basic sense of decency that are becoming increasingly…

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