Recent Posts

July 7, 2013

Stephen, Michael and Anna are teaching in schools in a humble sector of the capital of the Departamento de Ayacucho (Ayacucho state).  The district of San Juan Bautista, named after John the Baptist, is situated on the southeast side of the city and is home to over 38,000 people.  At 2,734 meters (8,969 feet) above sea level, there is a large daily variation in temperature.  At night the temperature drops to the mid-thirties, but in the afternoon the sun shines brightly and the temperature climbs back up into the 70s. Most of the residents of San Juan Bautista struggle to…

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July 3, 2013

Service in Huanta

Hannah and Kendall are serving in the city of Huanta:  Population = 84,000, Elevation = 2,624 meters (8,609 feet) above sea level.  The valley where Huanta is situated is unusually green, featuring a wide variety of vegetation and earning it the nickname “Emerald of the Andes.”  The climate is sunny and dry, with cool mornings and hot afternoons.  Huanta feels more like a small town than a growing city.  The population swelled during the 1980s and 90s as people fled the countryside to escape the conflict between the Shining Path terrorists and government soldiers.  Huanta continues to grow as people…

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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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