Recent Posts

July 5, 2015

By Karen and Duane Sherer Stoltzfus Peru SST Co-Directors, 2014-2015 At the start of every semester this year, Wilfredo “Willy” Villavicencio, who coordinates the service portion of SST, tells the story of leaving his home in a small, impoverished town in the Andes as an 11-year-old, in search of  educational and job opportunities in Lima. It’s a journey that has been made by hundreds of thousands of Peruvians from the mountains and the jungle. Lima, the gleaming destination, is home to nearly one third of the estimated 30 million residents of Peru. Many immigrants become homesteaders on the sandy outskirts…

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July 3, 2015

Philip shares a journal entry based on his readings and visit to Machu Picchu. The Spanish conquistadors never found the royal retreat and city at Machu Picchu, but this story imagines just such an encounter. The rainforest steamed all around them as they followed Pumatec, their translator and guide, up the muddy path. Felipe slipped, his Spanish-made helmet clanging loudly against the stone staircase. As he bent to retrieve it, he looked back at his ragged band of conquistadores. They numbered only 22 in all, with one of the men sick and another nursing an injured leg. They were low…

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July 3, 2015

Sharing the Wonder of Pachamama

Hayley shares a journal entry: Looking back, it seem surreal. But somehow I know that, yes, the mountains were that tall, the view was that beautiful, the clouds did move over the peaks, the people clambering by me were seemingly every ethnicity but Peruvian — and I was amazed. I was wholeheartedly appreciating the privilege to see a site that most people only see in pictures, before realizing the extent to which this privilege points to inequality. Machu Picchu is a site that conveys the enormity of the fall  from power of the Incas. The abandonment of this maze of…

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July 2, 2015

By Karen and Duane Sherer Stoltzfus Peru SST Co-Directors, 2014-2015 On the evening before we visited Machu Picchu, we talked about how we wanted to make the most of the chance to see this mountaintop retreat; few people have this opportunity, and for nearly all of those who do, it’s once in a lifetime. We scheduled a light breakfast for 5:30 a.m. (bread, tea and coffee) to be ready to leave the hostel by 6. We quickly crossed the plaza in the faint light of dawn and walked to the bus loading point, just a block away. We made the…

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June 22, 2015

By Karen and Duane Sherer Stoltzfus Peru SST Co-Directors, 2014-2015   More than 500 years ago, Ollantaytambo served as an important rest stop and administrative and religious center for the Incas. For our group, it proved to be a perfect place to stop after visiting the Incan sites at Chinchero and Moray and before spending a day at Machu Picchu. It’s an enviable rest stop (and a 90-minute train ride from the town of Machu Picchu Pueblo, or Aguas Calientes, from which you can climb or take a bus to Machu Picchu). The weather is warmer here than in most…

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June 21, 2015

By Karen and Duane Sherer Stoltzfus Peru SST Co-Directors, 2014-2015   Early on Monday morning, students said good-bye to their host families near Cusco and we made our way into the Sacred Valley by bus, accompanied by a new guide, Rubén. Our first stop included an opportunity to upgrade our wardrobes or, in many cases, the wardrobes of those we love. Chinchero is a textile capital at 3,800 meters, or 12,467 feet, above sea level. It is home to many textile workshops that provide a living to local families. A young woman welcomed us to a small weavers shop, where she…

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June 17, 2015

Michael shares a journal entry: I knew. I knew from the time I began watching TV, the first time I watched the weather, that I was going to be a meteorologist. My fascination with weather began with snow. If it snowed, there might be no school. The day before a storm I would watch the weather reports on TV at 5, 6 and 9. My interest in snow quickly turned into a general fascination with weather. That goal began to fade two and a half years into my meteorology studies at the University of Kansas, and I needed a change….

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June 17, 2015

Trout for Breakfast

Zach shares a journal entry: My 36 hours in Lucre is a time I will never forget. During our first night there, I was a little nervous. When James and I asked our host mom questions, she responded with very short answers. It was not until we showed interest in the family trout farm that her eyes really lit up. Our host mom, Margarita, began talking about all the work that went into the creation of the fish farm. Shen then asked us if we wanted to see the farm in the morning. We immediately said “yes.” After playing  games…

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June 16, 2015

By Karen and Duane Sherer Stoltzfus Peru SST Co-Directors, 2014-2015 For our students in Lucre and Huacarpay, Sunday morning began  the traditional way, at daybreak. There were hikes up the mountain, walks to see family cornfields, demonstrations in how to catch and prepare trout for breakfast. Students joined their host families in attending the small Mennonite churches in Lucre and Huacarpay, where Quechua blends with Spanish and the music is enhanced by lively praise bands. The first Mennonite church in Peru, La Iglesia Evangelica Menonita de Lucre (Lucre Mennonite Evangelical Church), was founded in this small mountain town of a few thousand…

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June 14, 2015

Sunday Morning in Lucre

Abbie shares a journal entry: Cock-a-doodle-doo! No, that was not a tacky alarm sounding but an authentic rooster waking me up. I checked my watch and realized it was 3 in the morning. A few short hours later, Kourtney and I left our warm beds with layer upon layer of alpaca blankets to see what the morning in Lucre had in store for us. The evening before, as we sat around our family’s dinner table drinking mate de coca and watching kittens play on the dirt floor, our host dad, Olmer, asked if we wanted to pick choclo, or corn,…

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