Recent Posts

October 19, 2010

Our visit to the district of Villa Maria del Triunfo in southern Lima showed us what a pueblo jóven looks like as it grows up. The area, which was founded almost 50 years ago, is now home to approximately 360,000 people, many of whom struggle with underemployment and poverty. Our first stop was Jesus Mi Buen Pastor, a preschool with about 60 students. The SSTers got a preschool-style workout as they granted repeated requests for “airplane” rides and other high intensity playground activities. Our hosts for the night were our friend Alicia and her family, who directed us right away…

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October 13, 2010

Villa el salvador

Just 50 years ago, Lima’s population was close to 1 million. Today the greater metro area is approximately 8.5 million, or nearly one in three Peruvians. The stories behind that spectacular growth are sometimes tragic: earthquakes and floods that decimated communities drove people into Lima, as did the terrorism perpetrated by the Shining Path and other radical groups in smaller cities and villages in the 1980s and ‘90s. But many migration stories are hopeful: People move from the countryside to Lima in pursuit of education, employment, and a better life. Unfortunately, that pursuit is typically difficult and dangerous. One of…

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October 11, 2010

Food fest!

Even if the SSTers were able to try a different Peruvian dish for each breakfast, lunch, and dinner of their semester here, they’d still miss many of the country’s hundreds of traditional offerings. Peru is known in culinary circles for its tasty diversity, and gastronomic tours here have been gaining in popularity. We recently were treated to a behind-the-scenes look at (and taste of) two of the county’s most distinctive dishes: ceviche and panchamanca. Ceviche is fish that’s been “cooked” in lime juice rather than with heat and seasoned with ají (Peruvian hot peppers), onion, and cilantro. Our guest chef,…

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October 5, 2010

touring cusco

We donned our hiking shoes, grabbed our cameras, and headed out to some fantastic archaeological sites during our trip to Cusco and the nearby Sacred Valley. Of course one stop was Machu Picchu, the magnificent “lost city” that was (re)discovered by American Hiram Bingham nearly 100 years ago (it was never lost to the locals). We spent the day enjoying in person the mountains and Incan ruins that we’ve previously only enjoyed in pictures. We also explored some other lesser-known yet just as fascinating sites: the fortress complex at Sacsayhuaman that overlooks the city of Cusco; the mountainside terraces at…

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October 3, 2010

service in cusco

We recently spent a week in the Andean city of Cusco, a short flight and a world away from our base in Lima. Most tourists visit Cusco to explore its archaeological sites—the city was the capital of the Incan empire and is gateway to Peru’s most famous tourist site, Machu Picchu. While we did our share of touring (see the next blog post), we also took three days for service projects in nearby towns. For two days we were in the small village of Lucre (about an hour’s drive from Cusco) where we helped rebuild an adobe house that was…

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September 27, 2010

The art(s) of Peru

Peru has more than its fair share of beauty, from the mountains to the ocean to Peruvians themselves. Last week the SSTers paid special attention to beauty found in the arts, first with a workshop on joyeria (jewelry) presented by Mike’s host parents, Ricardo Mauriola and Eliana Carrasco. The two artisans create and sell items they make from natural materials found in the selva (jungle). After Ricardo told us about the materials they use, from seeds to rocks to natural dyes, we got to work creating our own bracelets and necklaces (with some help from the professionals). The following day…

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September 21, 2010

We’ve been busy here in Lima. In the last week we tried our hand(s) at the cajon, a wooden box-type drum that originated in Peru. Our instructor, Camilo Ballumbrosio, comes from a family of cajon players. Our other guest speakers included Father David Farrell, a Massachusetts native who’s done social justice work throughout Central and South America since the 1970s, who spoke about our time in Peru and what it means in the context of liberal education.  Father Jeff Klaiber, a specialist in the church and Latin America—and Indiana native who’s lived in Peru for 34 years—provided a great historical…

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September 12, 2010

It’s hard to believe only a week has passed since our last update. The last seven days have been filled with a little bit of everything: Spanish classes, sightseeing, presentations on Peruvian politics and traditional medicine, mountain hikes, an overnight service visit to an orphanage, and chifa, the local version of Chinese food. The Peru SSTers have jumped right in, getting themselves to and from class via combi (sometimes a feat in itself!), venturing out to small local restaurants for “menú” lunches (think “today’s special”), visiting historic churches and Lima’s main square, and spending time getting to know their host…

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September 5, 2010


Our two days of orientation covered the basics of life in Lima—transportation, communication, money, health, and safety, among other topics—as well as some long walks, short bus rides, and exciting taxi rides. The students got their first look at Goshen Tambo (the directors’ home and heart of Peru SST operations, where the group will gather every Wednesday) and also the classrooms at Santa Maria Reina Church, where they’ll be attending lectures and Spanish classes. They met Celia Vasquez, our study coordinator; Willy Villavicencio, our service coordinator; and Alicia Taipe Tello, our assistant at Goshen Tambo. The group’s first lunch–a picnic…

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September 3, 2010

After a long day of travel the Peru SSTers landed safely in Lima. Director Kevin Gary and coordinator Celia Vasquez met the group of travelers at Jorge Chavez International Airport and escorted them to Home Peru, their lodging for the night. Since Lima is only one hour behind Goshen, jet lag shouldn’t be a problem. And that’s good for everyone, because tomorrow’s breakfast  is at 8, and a full day of orientation is set to follow!

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