Spring 2009 SST Unit in Peru

Follow along on our journey! You can click on any square picture to see a larger image.

Tue, 6 Jan 2009

Family Meeting

Last night was the gathering of all the families. New information was shared, and new experiences gleaned from the wise. Everyone excitedly opens their envelope to find out who is the new addition to the family. This never fails to excited the families.

Thu, 8 Jan 2009

The students arrived safely but tired. We took the scenic route along the ocean front. Passing by the crashing waves and the tower of cliffs. As we glanced out over the ocean the bright shining cross gleamed across the water giving us peace. We climbed the pebbled road to Miraflores where we found our hostal on a narrow street close to Goshen Tambo. The students were divided into groups and after the buzz of first impressions rested.

Orientation Day
We started off taking it easy Thursday morning. We eased in with introductions, anxieties and excitement. We turned to Oswaldo, the second level Spanish professor for advice on culture shock. Shortly after, the students had their first menú experience, with lunch at a local venue, after which the students were guided in the art of taking money out of the ATM, changing money on the street or in the store and buying phone cards. The afternoon was spent talking about transportation, communication, food and host families. Shortly after that we met our host families for the first time. Some felt like puppies waiting to be adopted.

Fri, 9 Jan 2009

Central Lima
After Spanish assessments we left for downtown Lima, slowly climbing by bus amongst the developed shanty town at San Cristobal Hill, we arrived to the cross at the top from which you can see a panoramic view of the city. As we came down the hill, and crossed the trickle of the river Rimac we arrived to the central plaza in time for the changing of the guards, from which we went to eat lunch at a local Chinese restaurant and explored the city. By afternoon everyone was tired and sweaty and with open windows we made our way back to Goshen Tambo where families were waiting to teach the students how to get home from meetings at the unit house, Goshen Tambo.

Learning the transportation system

Although you might not believe it if you see it, there is a system to transportation. Buses are organized by colors, numbers and letters. Today students learned how to figure out how to get around the city, more specifically, how to get home, as well as what parts are not recommended for exploration and where are the best places to eat.

Families dropped the students off, using the bus, for class and will pick them to remind them exactly how to get to and from home. By the end of the term they will be experts in how to get around the city. They'll know the best deals and the best eats and treats.

Photos courtesy of Emily, Celia, and Marissa

Thu, 15 Jan 2009

Market Day Research

Tuesday the students were sent in teams to different markets in their neighborhoods. Their assignment: find the ingredients to make something to share with the group at Tambo on Wednesday, the best quality and the best price, observing the customs and culture of the traditional market.

Wednesday the students arrived to Tambo with 7lbs of potatoes, tomatoes, cilantro, onions, garlic, limes, avocados and various tropical fruits.

One group made a tropical fruit platter, another guacamole, another salsa. The last one that was also the most laborious but the ultimate cultural experience was the 6 or 7 varieties of potatoes that were used to make various varieties of french fries. We had purple, pink, white, yellow and sweet potato varieties.

After enjoying these snacks we began our weekly ritual of Tambo. During this time we evaluate the week, are tested over what has been learned, share new things learned and process together. It is a time for renewal. As leaders we enjoy this time the most, as we watch students learn and grow.

Fri, 16 Jan 2009


Life in Lima centers around family. Students are very integrated into the lives of their families. Most students go to birthday parties with their families, go to the beach, go out for the weekend, watch movies together and go to church retreats with their families. This not only helps the students learn more Spanish and Peruvian culture but also helps the students to feel like they have a personal guide when they have questions and a personal accounts of the history we read in our assigned readings. The students have enjoyed their first week with their families.

Photos courtesy of Sonia, Marissa, and Ross

Ayllu Travel Groups

Ayllu means community, kindred, a group of family. We use this term in reference to the small groups of students we send to their choice of 12 locations around the city. The students have four such assigned experiences throughout the study portion of the semester. Their choices include mostly museums. Ayllu groups provides an opportunity for students to explore museums best captured in small groups as well as get to know each other and explore different parts of the city on their own. This past Thursday groups visited Huaca Pucllana, a archeological sight in the middle of a business district of Lima. Huaca Pucllana recently discovered a second mummy. Another group learned about the details of Precolombian cultures of Lima at the Archeology and Anthropology Museum.

photo courtesy of Marissa

Fortaleza Real Felipe (Royal Phillip's Fort)

Built by the Spaniards to protect against the pirates raiding gold-laden ships and ultimately used by the Spaniards to protect against the Peruvian Independence army; the Fort is located in Callao, an independent province of Lima. Callao is a port where mercenary ships come and go frequently.

One of the most interesting parts of the 5 point, 113 canon guarded fort, is the King's Tower, which holds a dungeon used to guard prisoners of war. Particularly for the Independence war they would hold prisoners in a tunnel that was standing room only. They would hold them there until death. Bread and water was served from one window in the middle of the tunnel, the food and water never reached the extremities of the line. Scalding water and lye were used to calm the stench of death and defecation. Bodies were passed overhead towards the one door. Bodies of prisoners were burned and the remains are now stored in a small box at the closed entrance to tunnel that goes from the fort out to the ocean.

One most unusual and unexpected incident was the discovery of a new stutue, that of a pirate. The guide showed us the "wax" figure. We thought it looked mighty real and when we got close he jumped out at us. Surprised us for sure! He mentioned how the pirates were the original threat to the Fort and how the Fort was designed as a maze of traps. He also wanted to make us all pirates with only the cost of two silver coins for his patch. He was insistent on pirate poses. Photos courtesy of Emily and Marissa

Stone Beach

After the tour of the Fort in the blazing bright sun we made our way to the beach. The Humbolt Current makes the ocean refreshingly cold. A few made their way not only into the water but swam a bit. Others enjoyed lunch as they tried to get comfortable among the stones.

Wed, 21 Jan 2009

Lectures and Ayllu Groups

The students have enjoyed some time to visit locations in small groups and with families. Several families have taken their students to the local water fountain park that has the tallest water fountain in the world, shooting as high as 80 feet. This site is best seen at night with the lights shining on the 13 different water fountains.

Other students have visited the National Museum, the Larco Museum and the Inquisition museum. Pictures courtesy of Emily

Sun, 25 Jan 2009

Institute for Liberty and Democracy watching the Inauguration

Our visit to the Institute for Liberty and Democracy (ILD) coincided with the Inauguration of President Obama. Between the presentation and the questions we watched the inauguration of our 44th president from a high rise office building in San Isidro, Lima.

Gabriel and his colleague explained how the economy and capitalism is failing a large sector of the World's population and their plan to get this population involved in the system instead of barred by institutions and systems that have a greater cost than benefit, making it more feasible to work outside the system or "extralegally" in their obtainment of land through invasions and settlements, the expansion of houses not up to building codes, working without permits, not paying fair wages and salaries. This organization was started by Peruvian Hernando de Soto and has worked in many countries around the world; studying the situation on the ground and making a diagnostic.

Dance-The arts of Peru

Thursday we learned traditional dances of Peru's various regions. Students learned to dance Tondero, an Afroperuvian dance, as well as Morenada from Puno, Valse from Lima and a dance from the jungle. Valse is the Spanish criollo version of the Waltz.

Islas Palomino

On Friday we visited Islas Palomino. We started from the Port of Callao, on ferries that took us to the Ecocruceros yacht. Our boat ride was about one hour to get out to the island; we enjoyed a calm sea and lots of sunshine. On our way to Palomino we passed by Isla San Lorenzo, a military camp, and also another island that was home to a high security prison. The prison was destroyed during a prison riot years ago. In this trip we were able to see penguins, pelicans, and sea gulls. Once we arrived to Islas Palomino students jumped into the sea to get close to sea lions.

Thu, 5 Feb 2009

Victor Delfin in Barranco

Thursday we went to Barranco, well-known for its community of artists and renown for its access to the beach. After a brief introduction by Celia, our coordinator and guide we crossed the "Bridge of Sighs" and went to a lookout passing on of LIma's oldest Cathedrals with a mud/straw roof.

Shortly thereafter, we arrived to Victor Delfin's house, private studio and workshop. Victor Delfin is an artist/artisan recognized for breaking with traditional schools of art. He never studied in Paris but has made many statements about life through his work, through his mission, and through his life.

After a brief tour of the house he owns and all that he has built on his property overlooking the Pacific Ocean, we sat down with Victor Delfin, still very spry in his 80 plus years of life.

He encouraged the students to allow for creativity in our lives. We were inspired by his art. He pushes the margins of social acceptance in his art, as well as history, political satire and irony as well as more progressive themes.

Mamaine and Balumbrosio Family in Chincha

Friday we left for Chincha, a three hour bus ride south of Lima, to where 2007's earthquake hit the hardest.

By time we arrived it was lunchtime and we went to Mamaine's for some traditional food from the region.

By that time it had warmed up considerably, approaching 90 degrees we looked for some escape in an artisan market of straw crafts and fruits for sale. We enjoyed chocotejas de pecanas, a chocolate covered carmel and pecan sweet, as well as the smell of fresh grapes; the region's reputation is largely built on its production of fruits and incredibly soft Pima cotton.

From there we visited El Carmen, still littered with USAID tents, the main cathedral is still under repair. Rubble is still seen in the streets a year and a half later. Just around the corner from the main square, we arrived to the Balumbrosio's home. This family is renown in Chincha as well as Peru, and even internationally for its Afro-peruvian rhythms. We watched drumming on a cajon, a box drum, and tap dancing as well as other regional dances. At the end we tried our hand at the Alcatraz, where a handkerchief is tied behind you at your waist and your partner tries to light it with a candle. You do your best to put out the flame or keep from getting your handkerchief lit on fire. The students wiggled enough, managing to not get their handkerchief to smolder.

Mon, 9 Feb 2009

Ross explores a new side of Lima

After visiting the Institute for Liberty and Democracy, I walked down to Avenida Arequipa to catch my bus. As I waited, I noticed a strange- looking church nearby. I walked over to check it out. Only a block off the busy road, I was surprised how quickly the cafes and shops started looking more upscale. Rather than catching my bus, I opted to wander further into the luxurious blocks that reminded me more of Europe than of the Peru with which I'd become acquainted.

All of the cars looked freshly waxed, dusted, and glinted in the sun. Men and women in freshly pressed, pastel colored business-casual dress sipped Inca Cola behind the crystal clear glass of air-conditioned restaurants with 15 soles menus (which are all inclusive lunch specials that typically cost 5 or 6 soles). Streets and sidewalks were pristine, without even a chewing gum package to be found. After passing a spa/hotel with four black chauffeured Mercedes, windows fully tinted, parked in front, the sight of a traffic circle struck me, dominating the interchange with a fountain that sent a shaft of water twenty feet into the air. It seemed out of place in this city where it never rains.

Beyond the traffic circle, colorful, unique condos and chalets lined the streets. It was there that I discovered something astounding: silence. I hadn’t experienced this in Lima since my arrival three weeks ago. The lack of noise was largely due to the lack of public transportation that is so abundant in most districts of Lima. No noisy diesel "micros" with their cobradores shouting, calling people to "get on, get on!" their bus, in castellano, no sputtering moto-taxis, no dogs barking. Just a few birds chirping and muted sedans rolling by.

I took a relaxing stroll down a broad, paved walking path, which was lined with ancient olive trees and ponds. There were ducks, and more fountains, and more groves of trees. Short, dark, indigenous women pushed elderly white women along in their wheelchairs at a leisurely pace. Other indigenous women pushed baby carriages or walked fluffy white dogs. I partly see where indigenous people get the perception that white people are fragile.

By the end of my walk, I was stunned by the stark contrast between the wealth of San Isidro and my neighborhood in San Juan, which is more middle class. On my way back to Arequipa Avenue, slightly-fenced houses slowly faded into the more heavily fortified residences, with high walls topped with shards of glass. Diesel-soot-encrusted buildings and the mere presence of leaves on the street, signaled I had made it back to the busy avenue of Arequipa, where I flagged down a micro to take me to another world.

Pachacamac: Largest archeological site in Lima

On Friday we visited Pachacamac, a truncated pyramid, built in not only Pre-colonial days but Pre- Incan days. We heard myths of creation. The view of the ocean was stunning and the breeze much- desired.

photos courtesy of Daniel.

Wed, 11 Feb 2009

Villa El Salvador

Villa el Salvador started 37 years ago as a shantytown. Most shantytowns begin by land invasion. There is unused land and refugees are fleeing to the city. Shantytowns make up more of Lima than formal districts. Villa El Salvador is only on of these shantytowns that has since become its own district with 500,000 inhabitants.

On Thursday we put together "gift baskets" for families with whom small groups of students will be visiting in their home in Villa El Salvador.

Friday we left early for Pachacamac and Villa El Salvador. Pachacamac, the largest archeological site in Lima is right next to the dusty refugee settlements. From Pachacamac we could see the Valley of Lurin, known for its famous Peruvian Paso horses (a breed of horses known for their smooth ride) and lush fields of strawberrie, a green valley next to the sand dunes of Villa El Salvador. Villa Salvador stretches as far as the eye can see, small one story huts made of reed mats, corrugated tin, billboard scraps, whatever can be found and made into four walls and a roof. Quite a striking contrast.

Our guide at Pachacamac told us that originally when their was a surge of internal refugees fleeing from the conflict in the highlands you had to have a permit or a passport of sorts to enter the city of Lima in an effort to control who and how many people flee to the city.

We started exploring Villa El Salvador by visiting its commercial and industrial areas. Because of cheap skilled labor Villa Salvador is Lima's manufacturing center. Furniture, wheel barrows, clothing, shoes, handbags are all made in Villa El Salvador. Our guide Katy, shared her story of growing up under the reign of terror when hooded men would walk the streets at night after curfew, chanting and singing, practicing shots on the hills and lighting up the hammer and scythe as symbols of the Sendero Luminoso, a terrorist group that started in the highlands at a University.

Villa El Salvador started as a community of refugees, 37 years later they continue to work as a community offering lunch, the main meal here, to the whole community, with the help of government subsidies. We had the privilege of seeing community cooperation in action as we also ate our lunch at the soup kitchen.

From there we visited the grave of an activist woman that helped to start programs like soup kitchens providing social support for those fleeing. This Afro-Peruvian woman was strong and courageous in the face of the Sendero Luminoso factions she continued to work, despite their threats. Her last day of life was spent working at a fundraiser, selling roasted chicken meals when the Sendero Luminoso found her, tied her to a chair, wrapped her in bombs and exploded her body. We visited her grave, along our way we saw the community project of raising dairy cows to provide milk for the community kitchens. We passed through some new settlements, settlements that are beginning to invade even the cemetery. The community continues to grow daily.

From our tour of Villa El Salvador we ended at a church where the families were to meet us. Since we were early and the day was exhausting, students napped on the church benches. Soon enough families started arriving and and groups of three went to the small one story homes of families, some having lived there as long as 30 years. Some families have water, some don't. Some families buy their water from someone who has tanks that get filled by the weekly water tanks. They fill their buckets or bring the water-hose that string the two blocks or so, to their home and return the hose when they are done. Some of the families have electricity, some don't. Some of the families do sewing in their back patio for the factories that do the finishing. Much of what is made in Villa El Salvador is exported to countries like the U.S.

Students were able to peek into the lives of those that inhabit Villa El Salvador, now a recognized district of Lima.

Mon, 16 Feb 2009

Soccer Game

After Tambo on Wednesday we went to a soccer game, a friendly match between Paraguay and Peru. Score? 1-0 respectively.

Fri, 20 Feb 2009


We celebrated our last day of classes with a presentation for the teachers. Each class did a skit representing the joys and the quirks of each of the Castellano, Spanish teachers. We enjoyed this celebration with skits, poems and dancing.

That evening we had a Despedida, farewell presentation for the families. We enjoyed reflections on food, the Peruvian national anthem, thoughtful lyrics to adjusting to Peruvian life and los Chicos del Calle de Atras or the Backstreet Boys. Even though an unusual garua, sprinkling rain, fell on our someone open air evening, we didn't let that hinder our festive evening of snacks and presentations.

Photos courtesy of Daniel

Mon, 23 Feb 2009

Daniel's poem


I try to speak Open la boca And let the castellano flow forth pero no recuerdo las palabras

I stammer and strain my memory trying to recall those distant classes with Don Rafael as mi hermano interjects English words trying to help

Mi mama esta charlando muy rápido I smile and nod pero siento como que no entiendo nada she asks me a question it takes three tries for me to understand

Last night it was so easy we spoke about our families una hora o mas I understood so well felt like my ears were finally tuning in but words evade me now it is all lost to me a murmer over traffic

Me siento como un niñito or maybe a fool for thinking "puedo hablar en castellano" is this what Babel felt like as their words flowed past like flood waters when YHWH scattered humankind sobre toda la tierra

Yet perhaps we can rebuild our shattered tounges open our ears esperando un nuevo dia de Pentecostés

Comida Peruana

Me dijeron la comida peruana es rica es cierto, claro jugo de caña ¡que dulce! como miel de los cielos papa a la huancaína con sus ricos sabores bendita con queso y huevos duros mango jugoso, colorido, y maduro el rey de las frutas

Me dijeron la comida peruana es sencilla papas blancas, negras, y amarillas pollo frito, asado, o en sopa arroz, siempre blanco estas son las tres hermanas del Peru están en cada mesa

Me dijeron la comida peruana es extraña frutas desconcidas, cada parte del pollo mondongo, el estómago de la vaca blanco, arrugado, con una textura como chicle tuna, una fruta llena con semillas como cascajos en la boca ají, un salsa picante y fuerte aventuras y peligros, en el mismo plato

Rica, sencilla, y extraña estas ideas son ciertas pero falta algo más importante no importa que tipo de comida esta en la mesa pero con quién la estas compartiendo porque la cena implica compañerismo amigos y familia no solo los platos.

Mon, 2 Mar 2009

Cusco City Tour

We arrived to Cusco last week. The altitude required our bodies to adjust to the thinner air by taking a slower pace than sea-level exertion. We started by settling into the hotel and drinking mate de coca, coca tea. Using coca in higher altitudes goes back to ancient medicine and is still common practice.

After resting a bit and eating lunch we started our tour of Cusco, literally translated, the navel, or the center of the Incan empire, Tahuantinsuyo, or the four corners. Our tour began in Sacsayhuaman, an Incan fortress used to impede the Spanish conquest that eventually ended in Spanish overthrow and has been mostly destroyed to be used in the construction of the churches in Cusco's main plaza. This construction is made out of stones that weigh up to 12 tons, some of which were brought from far away, carved to fit perfectly with each other.

It is the rainy season in the mountains, and Cusco's weather is unpredictable spurts of light to very heavy rains. Rains can be so heavy it makes rivers in the streets. We caught Cusco on one of its more rainy days and spent most of our time at Sacsayhuaman in the rain. It managed to pause long enough for a slick ride down the rock slide and a stumble through the minute and a half of sheer darkness in the cave under Sacsayhuaman's backside.

We also made a stop at Quenqo, the Quechua word for maze or crooked. In a cave underneath was performed sacrifices of the highest order. On our way to the "White Jesus" we got "choclo con queso." Choclo is a very plump white corn that is eaten off the cob with cheese. The corn isn't like American sweet-corn and the kernels are much larger and there is definitely no sweetness about it, just a nutty corn flavor. The cheese makes a bit of a squeaky sound in your mouth and tastes a tinge sour, but the corn and the cheese mix is a delightful and a very traditional snack to curb your hunger, besides the fact that it is very healthy.

The "White Jesus" as people call the large white stone statue on the hill was donated by the Catholic Palestinian refugees who were welcomed by local Cusquenos during the 40s.

From a beautiful panoramic view of Cusco, at the "white Jesus," we descended into Cusco to check out the Sun Temple, Qoriqancha, where we marveled again at the amazingly fitting Incan masonry that was taken over by the Dominican order during the conquest, from Incan Sun worshippers to Dominican Son worshippers.

Pisaq and Ollantaytambo

After a refreshing night in the hotel in Cusco we drove down to the Sacred Valley where we explored ancient Pisaq up in the hills and enjoyed a long hike. After a lunch in what is currently Pisac we left for Ollantaytambo, another stop in the Sacred Valley. We happened to catch a Carnaval celebration in the town square before climbing Ollantaytambo, another example of Incan masonry. There in Ollantaytambo, we ended our day in a hostal with an amazing view, retiring early for our journey to Machu Picchu the following day.

Machu Picchu

We arrived from Ollantaytambo on the swaying train to Aguas Calientes, also known as Machu Picchu town, from there we take a bus to Machu Picchu park and from there we hike up to an outcrop to take in the magnificent view of Machu Picchu. After a few explanations from the guide about the rules of the park and the layout as well as a bit of the history, the students split up and explored Machu Picchu on their own.

Service Departures

After we returned from Machu Picchu we prepared for departures for service. We had a brief orientation and just hours later the first three students departed. From Saturday evening to Monday morning students were departing for service locations. During our orientation we managed to slip in a birthday celebration for Ross, who turned 21.

Wed, 11 Mar 2009

Visiting Christa and Carla in Chulucanas, Piura

All the way to the north of Piura, not far from the Ecuadorian border lies the town of Chulucanas, normally a desert town, it is very green in the rainy season. Seasons are marked by the fruits they produce during each season. Right now the mangos are flowering, because of the flowering countryside there is an increase in honey that Chulucanas is known for

We arrived to a very humid bright sunny Chulucanas we jumped off the bus to be met by a rush of mototaxi drivers who wanted to take us to where we were going. Mototaxis are motorcycle taxis or motorcycles that have a bench seat on the back. We didn't really need one since we were close to Carla's house, upon entering her neighborhood we noticed Carla seated in the park and surprised her with her mail. After she took us to her home and we visited with her family we went out to find Christa, who we saw through the window was reading on a chair in the living room. Any bit of breeze is welcome in Chulucanas so windows and doors are always open. We greeted her host-brother as we walked in. He was working on decorating a large pot. His family works on ceramics, firing them in the most traditional sense.

Both Christa and Carla work together and go to the same church together. Sunday they asked Christa to do a sunday school in a village where directions are indicated by "the big tree with lots of shade," which is the main square of the village.

Carla has been working on physical therapy with some of the children in the area. She helps them take steps and do stretching exercises.

Christa has been visiting those children who have stopped coming to the Rehabilitation Center, where they both work. Christa's latest task was teaching a girl to sweep. We were discussion the psychology of learning the purpose of actions. Christa said that the girl has the sweeping action down, but the girl hasn't quit grasped the objective of gathering particles together to be thrown away. Both girls are using their time not only at work and at church where they attend 3-4 times a week, but they also enjoy interacting in the community. Carla has become friends with a girl her age that she works with and Christa spends time in the park where she is surrounded by children if she's not studying. Christa has taught the children Slap-Jack and Go Fish.

Both seem to be in good spirits and good health. We brought them for the day to Piura where we enjoyed a relaxing lunch and a swim in the pool as well as a walk around town and a stop for ice cream before leaving them at the bus terminal to head back to Chulucanas.

Fri, 13 Mar 2009

Josh, Chelsea, Marissa, Brian, Reuben and Kaila in Chimbote

We met the six students in front of the Parish in Chimbote and quickly made our way to eat dinner. We were full of stories, each one had their own dilemmas, challenges and victories.

The students have gotten to know Chimbote through the connects of Padre Juanito, an American priest who has lived there for over 30 years. We visit the students in the work locations tomorrow.

Wed, 18 Mar 2009

Visiting Marissa, Reuben, Brian, Kaila, Chelsea and Josh in Chimbote

We arrived to Chimbote and quickly made plans with the students for dinner. The students chose a newer restaurant they had been waiting for us to arrive to try. Surprisingly all the students ordered chicharron de pollo, chicken fingers and fries. Over dinner we heard the various renditions of what it is like to live and work in Chimbote. The next day we planned to visit all the worksites and families.

We started out the new day meeting up with the students at the Parrish met by Father Jack, the Priest that oversees the Parish. We distributed mail to very excited recipients and once the excitement died down the students took us on a tour of the parish.

We started with Reuben’s service assignment, accompanying at the Matt Talbot center for rehabilitation of addictions, primarily alcohol and drugs. Reuben has gotten to preach and has appreciated getting to know the program.

From there we returned to the Parish to pick up Marissa for lunch, downtown Chimbote. We searched for a while for a recommended restaurant and enjoyed ice cream afterwards. From there we started visiting families. We started with Chelsea’s family, Brian’s family and Josh’s family who related the joy he was to have a part of the family, as their “youngest” son.

From there we visited four more work assignments, the students have been filling school packs for children who are soon going back to school after the coastal summer. Kaila, has been teaching English at the Casa de la Juventud, the House of Youth. Marissa, works a block or so away at the Hospice and has gotten to know several of patients who live there. Marissa also goes with the Doctor and the Director on outpatient visitors. Marissa is a good person to accompany; she holds their hands as they get painful shots.

From there we visited the last 3 families, Marissa’s family, Kaila’s family and Reuben’s family. Reuben’s mother is a social worker at the parish and offered us soda and popcorn. Reuben’s mother, Udy Palacios, is delightful and looked a little like a fairy godmother.

After all those visits we were beat and retired early for the bus ride through the canyon to Huaraz, where we meet up with Ross, Emily, Daniel, Hannah R. and Audrey.

Thu, 19 Mar 2009

Arriving in Mancos to visit Emily, Hannah, Audrey, Daniel and Ross

We arrived from Chimbote to Mancos in the evening. The students had had a full day hiking in the mountains, swimming in a glacier lake and having a wonderful time. The five students who live in the three locations of the "Huaraz area" had gone with a guide, and host-brother of Audrey and Hannah. After catching up a little bit we made our way to Huaraz for a treat.

photos courtesy of Emily

Wed, 25 Mar 2009

visiting Emily and Daniel in Caraz

Emily met us in the main plaza of the small town of Caraz, and led us to her host-mother's home, where we were overwhelmed by the spectacular view from the large balcony. From there we visited Daniel's family who graciously welcomed us as we talked about Daniel's work and how the non-profit approach is changing the face of charity in Caraz. Daniel works with his host-father and an engineer on a cuy development project. They visit families who raise cuys for profit and help them with nutrition, reproductive health and diagnosis of diseases. Both of the students were complemented on their language fluency.

visiting Hannah R. and Audrey in Mancos

Mancos is set on the slopes of Huascaran, providing spectacular views. Hannah and Audrey have been living with a host-family that are also owners of the hostal where we stayed. Naomi, their host-mother is a gracious and generous host. She is full of stories of her pet llamas and alpacas, she is also a community leader in charge of government sponsored day care facilities and is often sought after for support. The local children come to her for homework help. She is a truly giving person. The girls are well cared for at their home. It is still the rainy season in Mancos which makes for cold evenings and lots of mud.

Hannah, Emily, and Audrey gather children every afternoon for English classes. The children arrive hours early to fight and play before class. About every ten minutes for two hours the children ask if class is about to start yet, until 3:30 when class starts. Class starts with review. Head and shoulders, knees and toes is a popular song for class, games are played using the review and then the classes are split by level of english knowledge. About 20 students are divided in two groups and more games are played using English. The children really delight in the active language learning like Duck Duck Goose with different animals, Hot potato to answer quiz questions.

The students in the Huaraz area have enjoyed many festivities of Carnaval, and living in the mountain villages,but still appreciate an occasional ice cream cone.

Sat, 28 Mar 2009

visiting Ross in Tarica

Ross was in good spirits when we met him for work at eight-o'clock in the morning. We went up the mountains, driving on bumpy, curvy, sometimes muddy roads, where we would get stuck and we had to get out of he overloaded minivan. Once we made it to the village the children and families gathered. World Vision gives birthdays to all the children in town, once a year. They also take this as an opportunity to sign up children for sponsorship and update their information.

Ross' roll is entertaining the children while they get their picture taken. He often poses as a clown, a Dr. or a cow. During the all-day escapade Ross had no less than 3 icecreams from the locals. After the sign-up was complete we had wheat soup, and a bowl of potatoes and chicken, a very full meal indeed.

After lunch birthdays were celebrated with many pound cakes and with dancing and prizes. The rain cut our party short around five-o'clock in the afternoon and we left, driving steadily down the rough path.

Ross seems to be in good spirits. His family gives him plenty to eat. They appreciate that he's a good eater. He is friends with everyone in the neighborhood. Many people greeted him on the street as we accompanied him. He is often complemented for eating anything and everything, appreciated for his adventurous spirit.

Sun, 29 Mar 2009

Arequipa, the white city, visiting Luke

Sillar, is the white volcanic rock that has been used for buildings in Arequipa, hence "the white city." Luke, was our first student to go to Arequipa for service. He has been working with an organization called La Casa Verde that works with street children and now more chidlren that have gone through the courts who are unfit to live with their families because of mistreatment. La Casa Verde provides a refuge for battered children of all ages. Luke has been assisting children with their homework when they get home from school as well as helping prepare dinners. His latest assignment, while the children are not home, is painting a mural that has faded with time.

Luke holds a special place in the hearts of his family. They confide in him, making him part of the family. They are interested and curious about the life he comes from and show him all about theirs. While we were visiting his sister turned seven. He was the official photographer. The family delights in his presence.

After visiting his service assignment and family we visited the Colca Canyon, a canyon deeper than the Grande Canyon. A truly amazing adventure, we experienced Condors swooping overhead, held baby alpacas, hawks land on our hats, saw ancient burial sites on the mountainsides, danced traditional jigs and admired the colorfully unique costumes of the region.

Leanndra and Hannah S. in Chancay

Not Far from Lima is a green oasis, Chancay, where fruits and vegetables grow, fish is fresh and the air is so much lighter.

We arrived to Hannah's house. Heard stories of her progression and the family's delight in her delectable pastries, as well as her host-brother's appreciation for the English homework help.

From there we went to visit Leanndra's family, a few blocks away where they complemented Leanndra on her adjustment to Chancay. Eventually we departed for the local attraction, The Castillo, The castle which is now a hotel where you can eat and swim. We relished the occasion, and enjoyed both. Later we visited their service assignments.

When Leanndra and Hannah first arrived they worked with Bola Roja, a version of "Patch Adams," working in the local hospital giving cheer to patients at the hospital. Recently they started working at a daycare, which has really kept them busy, with 30 rambunctious pre-schoolers there is never enough hands. They've also had the opportunity to teach in a local language institute where their assistance was much appreciated and will be so missed that they're looking for more volunteers.

Leanndra and Hannah are looking forward to their return to Lima in a week. Home is on the horizon.

Dietrich and Jesse working in Chincha

Our service visits end with a visit to the land of Afro-Peruvians, Chincha. We got to the church where Dietrich and Jesse are working on construction projects. Their first project was to destroy a cistern, dig a hole for a new one hole and put in a new cistern. Their latest project is builing a wall around the perimeter of some recently acquired land. This land has been filled in with filler, which is basically trash with dirt on top. They spend their days trenching through plastic bags and they've only busted the water line once, even though it runs right through through the trench they are trying to dig. They've gotten to know their fellow co-workers fairly well, engaging in interesting conversations and debates.

After work we went to their host-family's home where we had a delicious lunch and sat around telling stories of adventures at home, including tremors and their 14 year old host- brother. The maid at the home calls them the good bad boys, bad boys like the song that former SSTers Asher and Nelson taught the family.

After dinner the students took us to the lively and crowded market where we waded our way through thousands of stalls from everything to vegetables, brooms, fabric and chicken kidneys. We were looking for figs. Jesse and Dietrich had enjoyed the figs they had earlier that they wanted to buy some for their family and bring it home, but we kept getting the response that it is too early yet for figs. While an older gentleman tried to tell us to be careful in sign language we heard someone yelling Jesse's name. One of the students at the church/school where they work called out Jesse's name, wanting to know when they are going to play soccer at the school again. The child from the school was accompanying his mother at her stall in the market. We walked home the long way, through the neighborhoods of empty lots, where houses once stood before the earthquake. Since most people didn't have official deeds or land ownership was questionable it has been hard to get aid to rebuild their home. Many people are living in small quarters of those whose homes still stand. Very little aid organizations still work in Chincha. Reconstruction is slow.

Sun, 5 Apr 2009

Final Retreat and Send off

Students trickled in from their various distant locations all day on Thursday. Friday morning we left for Final Retreat at a little beach-front church camp, Kawai. We listened to final project presentations and debriefed in preparation for "reverse culture shock." In between sessions we dipped in the pool, played soccer and enjoy crimson sunsets.

The students are counting down the hours till their arrival in the U.S.

Mon, 6 Apr 2009

Send Off

The students departed for the airport and all they left was memories. Students will be arriving in Goshen around 4pm depending on transportation delays.

Goshen College
International Education Office
Kevin Koch
+1 (574) 535-7346