Recent Posts

October 7, 2012

CEBE María Auxiliadora (Mary our Helper Center for Basic Special Education) is a public school located in a middle class neighborhood in Lima’s San Borja district.  Disabled children are brought here from all over the metropolitan area to learn and develop basic life skills.  Some of the students are diagnosed with Down syndrome, others with autism and at least one with cerebral palsy — all with special abilities. We were met at the door of the school by the director, María Barnett, who introduced us to her multidisciplinary team of teachers and support staff.  By law all schools must admit…

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October 2, 2012

Peru is a “middle-income” country:  the average Peruvian earns the equivalent of $10,160 per year, taking into account the local exchange rate and cost of living.  But incomes are distributed much less equally than in the U.S. and most other countries on earth.  How did the large gap between rich and poor come about?  And how does this inequality affect Peru’s politics, religion and art? Eduardo Arroyo is an author and sociologist who writes on the topic of race and class in Peru.  In his talk, Dr. Arroyo explained how income, wealth and political power were concentrated in the hands…

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September 19, 2012

Lima is a desert — the area receives less than an inch of rainfall each year.  How does this city produce enough food for 8 million people?  It doesn’t — food is trucked in from the Andes mountains and the Amazonian rainforest.  Without access to distant markets, the population would starve.  Recognizing the precarious nature of this arrangement, the local government is encouraging people to plant community gardens.  We visited one such garden, known as Paraiso (Paradise), with the intention of helping out. Of course, there are many ways to help when it comes to gardening.  Planting, weeding and harvesting…

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September 17, 2012

We often take for granted the pipes that bring drinking water into our homes and take waste water away to the treatment center.  But what would it be like to live in a house without running water or a sewage system? We didn’t need to drive very far from our program’s headquarters to find out.  Less than an hour from Good Shepherd Church in Miraflores is one of many neighborhoods that were began as “invasions” within the last several decades.  The sector we visited, Chavin de Huantar in the city of Villa El Salvador, is 13 years old.  In 1999,…

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September 15, 2012

Life on the Margins

Peru has a proud past.  The Inca civilization is most notable, but many other cultures thrived in this part of the world thousands of years before the rise of the Incas and their conquest by the Spanish.  In many ways, these cultures were in the center of their known worlds.  Today, however, Peru is considered a developing nation, a country that often finds itself on the margins of the world stage.  This semester we will focus on what life is like for people who live on the edge, in a sense, of economic, social, cultural, religious, environmental and political structures….

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September 9, 2012


After two days of orientation the students moved out of the Miraflores House and prepared themselves to meet their new host families.  Members of the families appeared in rapid succession to pick up the students.  We shared a cup of tea and a cookie or two, took a photo of each student with their new hosts, then said goodbye. One family, Micah’s, was not able to come to pick him up due to a medical emergency.  Everything turned out fine and Micah arrived at his new home several hours later than planned.  We’ll post a photo of him with a…

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September 8, 2012


Lima is a different world, a growing metropolis that straddles the narrow desert plain between the Andes mountains and the Pacific Ocean.  The area receives only a centimeter (less than half an inch) of rain each year.  Rivers like the Rimac, which originate high in the glacier-laden Andes, provide water for human consumption and green spaces.  Amazingly, over 9 million people live here, a third of Peru’s population.  And, for the next 4 1/2 weeks, eighteen Goshen College students will add their presence to this dynamic city, accepting the hospitality of their host families and learning everything they can about…

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September 6, 2012


They are here, at last! After a four-hour delay in Miami, eighteen weary but patient Goshen College students passed through the immigration and customs area at Lima’s Jorge Chavez International Airport and got their first glimpse of Peru’s bustling capital city.  We made the short trip to our hostel, the Miraflores House, so they could rest.  Tomorrow we’ll start exploring the city. Welcome — Bienvenidos

September 6, 2012


This semester makes history:  For the first time, students coming to Peru to study Spanish will be joined by those studying Sign Language.  We will all be together for lectures, workshops and field trips — learning about life in this diverse and dynamic South American nation.  Then each afternoon 13 students will head off to Spanish class while the other 5 join a Peruvian Sign Language professor to practice the method of communication that is increasingly common in the local deaf community. Over the past year our team of directors and coordinators have recruited sign language instructors, interpreters and host…

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September 5, 2012


As directors of the Peru Study Service Term, we are halfway through our two-year assignment.  The month of August provided an opportunity to renew our spirits as well as our visas. In early August we joined members of RETO International Mennonite Brethren Community Church on a mission trip to the Peruvian rain forest.  We traveled by overnight bus to Chiclayo on the northern coast, then by another overnight bus to Bagua in the Andes mountains, then finally by helicopter to the remote village of Tampe.  The national oil company,PetroPeru, offered us the services of a helicopter to help transport the…

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