Recent Posts

May 1, 2013


As we prepare to welcome our next group of SST students we reflect on these words from Henri Nouwen: “Latin America:  impressive wealth and degrading poverty, splendid flowers and dusty broken roads, loving people and cruel torturers, smiling children and soldiers who kill.  It is here that we have to hunt for God’s treasure.” And hunt we will… But before we were ready to receive the 22 students who will step off the plane Wednesday night, we needed to travel north to Ecuador to renew our visas, rest our bodies and refresh our spirits.  We celebrated three birthdays — Sierra’s…

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April 8, 2013


Excitement mixed with sadness permeated the air at Casa Goshen.  The students had two hours to pack up their belongings, making sure their suitcases weighed in at just under 50 pounds.  We shared a final dinner prepared by Glicerio, Alicia’s son-in-law, who was trained in culinary arts at the Marriot Hotel in Miraflores — the strips of beef melted in our mouths and the maracuya (passion fruit) juice tingled our tongues.  Celia, our study coordinator, and several host families dropped by to say goodbye.  Then, in groups of twos and fours, the students lugged their suitcases down the three sets…

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April 8, 2013


The Spring 2013 Study Service Term in Peru finished with a retreat at the Scripture Union Center in Kauai.  Located two hours south of Lima, Kauai is situated on a sandy beach far from the hustle and bustle of the city.  The students presented the research they did while on service, with topics ranging from “Peruvian Forms of Healing” to “Adobe in the Jungle.”  We worshiped together and talked about returning to the US, including the phenomenon of reverse culture shock.  And we enjoyed some recreation on the beach — this is the end of summer in the southern hemisphere…

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April 5, 2013


Emma and Mandy are volunteering at two preschools and one after-school program in the rain forest city of Oxapampa.  According to anecdotes from Peruvian teachers and school administrators, the nation’s education system is underfunded, with underpaid teachers, classrooms devoid of basic supplies and a pedagogy that emphasizes rote memory over creativity or critical thinking.  Conscious that the system is not preparing students adequately for adult life, the students are pushed harder each year.  But the added pressure does little to improve outcomes; it frustrates and discourages the children. One teacher recently quipped, “They are burned out by first grade.”  To…

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April 4, 2013


Jesse volunteers at a family-owned coffee farm called Fundo Almorique.  Coffee is the second-most traded product in the world, second only to petroleum in its importance as an export.  Hundreds of millions of people drink coffee each day, enjoying the aroma of a freshly-brewed cup and feeling the lift generated by a dose of caffeine.  But most of the people who enjoy the beverage know little if anything about where it comes from or how it is produced.  While coffee is consumed in large quantities in the Global North it is produced in the Global South, mostly in tropical countries…

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April 2, 2013


Jacob and Joseph are volunteering for a nonprofit organization called Ecomundos in the native village of San Miguel de Marankiari.  As the world becomes ever more modern and ever more globalized, indigenous people are pressured to acculturate, becoming like everyone else.  Many move to the cities and change both the way they dress and the foods they eat.  Their native tongue is forgotten in favor of colonial languages such as Spanish, French and English.  Their children are ashamed to identify themselves as members of an indigenous group and the customs and traditions passed on from generation to generation quickly pass…

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March 31, 2013

Role Models

Jieun and Phil are working with children in the rain forest city of San Ramon.  This small urban area is home to hundreds of impoverished families hampered by absentee fathers, alcohol addiction and an inability to make ends meet due to low wages and limited employment opportunities.  Children living under these conditions sometimes lack healthy role models, young men and women who are educated, exhibit healthy lifestyles and care about their well-being.  Children deserve to be loved by safe, responsible people that they can look up to.  If not, they run the risk of resorting to destructive or anti-social behaviors…

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March 30, 2013


Alex is volunteering at Chanchamayo Highland Products in the Selva Central (Central Rain Forest) of Peru.  Societies have always traded the goods they have in abundance for the goods that are scarce or otherwise unavailable to them.  In the developing world, the prevailing pattern has been to export raw materials — gold, copper, cotton, bananas — to earn income.  This income is then used to purchase finished products — electronics, autos, clothing — from industrialized nations.  The problem with this arrangement, from the perspective of the Global South, is that countries like Peru fail to develop their own capacity to…

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March 29, 2013


Andrew and Oscar are volunteering at Fe y Alegria (Faith and Happiness) School in Tarma.  The school serves children living in extreme poverty.  It was founded several years ago with help from the Jesuit order of the Catholic Church.  Since all the land near the center of this Andean city was already occupied, the Jesuits purchased property on a steep slope halfway up the mountain.  The location works well for several reasons:  (1) it is located at the top of the humble neighborhood where most of the students live, (2) it offers a great view of the city below and…

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March 27, 2013


Isaac and Kolton are volunteering in the classroom.  They, along with the rest of us, entered the service portion of the Peru Study Service Term with open eyes and open hearts.  We often ask our Peruvians friends and acquaintances, “How can we be of service to you and your community?”  The most common answers is, “Teach us English!”  Our native tongue has become the lingua franca in recent years, a universal language that bridges divides between people and peoples in the realms of science, education, technology, transportation, entertainment and trade.  When we travel to the provinces we always encourage those…

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