Thursday, July 14, 2016

Closing our experience in Cusco--and Peru


It is hard to believe that today was our final day in Cusco. As a group, we decided we’d spend our last day sightseeing, shopping, and resting in preparation of our long journey home. We started with a visit to the ancient citadel of Saksaywaman, located in the northern part of Cusco. Saksaywaman (also Sacsayhuamán) is a Quechua word meaning “speckled (or marbled) falcon,” because it was considered the falcon that guarded the former capital of the Inca Empire. It is located on a hill overviewing the city. The views there are absolutely breathtaking! Saksaywaman consists of a large stone fortress constructed over a period of over 70 years. The walls are composed of enormous stone blocks fitted perfectly together without the use of mortar. Some of the stones exceed a height of 30 feet!  Based on what we learned from one of our tour guides earlier this week, we know that this was a holy place, because mortar was not used when building the wall. It is commonly called a “Royal House of the Sun,” because people would go there to worship the sun god and other lesser deities. Each year, a Peruvian ceremony Inti Raymi (Quechua for “sun festival”) is held at Saksaywaman on June 24 for the winter solstice—the shortest day of the year in the Southern Hemisphere. Thousands of tourists from around the world make the trip to Cusco and celebrate with music, costumes, and lots of food.

Our next stop was to Qoricancha. It was once the most important temple in the Inca Empire and was dedicate to Inti, the sun god. From a bird’s eye view, the temple once resembled rays of sun shining in all directions. Similar to Saksaywaman, the builders of the temple had mastered the art of masonry, as demonstrated by their use of large stone blocks fitted together without the use of mortar. Today, the stonework is all that remains. At one time, the doors and interior of the temple were covered in gold sheets! Hundreds of years ago, people came from near and far to participate in religious rites at the temple, while high priests used the temple as an observatory. A gorgeous courtyard is located at the very center. After the Spanish conquered the empire, most of the temple was destroyed, and they used its foundation to build a cathedral. The Santo Domingo church and monastery were built beside the temple on higher ground to signify the Spanish conquest. Today, the upper level houses displays of beautiful modern art.

Lastly, we visited an Indian market to buy souvenirs. The market is home to aisles upon aisles of vendors selling everything from paintings, jewelry, ceramics, scarves, hats, clothing, and toys. Afterwards, we returned to the hotel, and we all packed up our belongings and prepared for our morning departure.

~Kimberly Sanders

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Visiting the Panticalle school

Today was the day to visit Panticalle, a school deep in the Andes Mountains! We began our journey at 5 am with backpacks full of blankets, school supplies, and UofL shirts that we were going to give to the teachers and students of the school. After a 3 hour (beautiful) bus ride through the Andes we arrived at our destination. Except a slight get to Panticalle we would need to hike down the mountain. The school lies in a valley in between mountains that stand 4,316 meters (14,160 feet) tall. So our hike began and an hour later we were welcomed to Panticalle! As a warm welcome we were given oca and añu, a potato like agricultural product farmed at the school. We were also given cups of coco tea, a widely suggested remedy to help with the altitude. After enjoying our welcoming gift, we were greeted by the principal, Olga Valverde, as well as by the 2 teachers that teach there and the 12 students that attend Panticalle. Elizabeth Paredes, one of the teachers, told us all that she has been teaching at Panticalle for 25 years! As a present to us, we were given Quechua workbooks by one of the teachers, Mr. Rufino Chuqui Mamani for us to take back to the US. He wanted us to use these workbooks to share a part of their culture in our classroom, which I think was an absolutely amazing gift. 

After the greetings, we sat in on one of the lessons for the day. The lesson was taught outside, something that I would love to incorporate in my classroom one day. The lesson for the day was having students read through a recipe on how to prepare trout, potatoes, and a mixed salad (which we would be having for lunch). The curriculum behind this was reading, comprehension, and application. Students read ingredients followed by the steps for the meal. Then students completed the steps as they read through them. This idea of this lesson is something that I feel needs to be incorporated more in US education. These lessons not only get students out of their seats, but also teach by doing which is a strategy of teaching that I have seen to be more effective in the classroom. These students were very involved in the lesson as they all were reading, went to get the ingredients, and even helped gut the trout! After the lesson, we had a bit of free time. Some of us played soccer with the students. While lunch was being prepared, we got to sit in on a lesson in the classroom. The school has 2 classrooms. This is a multi grade level school, however the classrooms are divided into grades. In one classroom are students grades 1-3, and in the other are students grades 4-6. Although this school allows students to stay up to 6th grade, it was said that most go to another school nearby for grades 3-6. Then if they choose to go to secondary school, the closest school to attend is in Ollantaytambo which is about an hour car ride away. Just some brief details about Panticalle, now back to our experience in the classroom. The teacher was teaching students about the different types of potatoes in Peru. Students first went to the board and drew the types of potatoes then wrote the name of the potatoes. After this activity, students turned the types of potatoes and words learned from the recipe into sentences. I really enjoyed watching this lesson and seeing how engaged students were. I was also surprised that the style of teaching here is similar to teaching in the US. After the lesson, it was time for lunch! The teachers, parents (and students) prepared for us a meal consisting of trout, potatoes, and a mixed green salad made of fresh vegetables farmed at the school. We enjoyed lunch with teachers, students, and visitors to the school that day. Then we took pictures, said our goodbyes, and started our journey up the mountain that we had previously hiked down to get to the school. After about an hour and a half, we had made it back to the bus! Our day at Panticalle was complete! 

Our day was such a wonderful, eye opening cultural experience. Now that you've heard about our day I would like to share some background information about Panticalle. As I said earlier, Panticalle is located in the bottom of the valley of the Andes Mountains, so the only way there is hiking. Not only do the teachers and students hike down and up the mountain everyday to get to school, but all the students have an additional walk from home. It was said that most students walk an hour or two before even getting to the top of the mountain that leads to Panticalle. The dedication teachers and students have for education is truly amazing. I know that in the US if just to get to school consisted of a straight uphill walk up and down a mountain, most would never come to school. Panticalle is also unique because it is a school that is part of the Intercultural Bilingual Education system. The bilingual part of that means that the school teaches two languages to students which are Quechua and Spanish. It was very neat seeing this put to use in the lesson. The first half of the recipe was in Quechua and the second half was in Spanish. It amazes me how many of the students could read in both languages at a young age. I don't even know two languages at 20! The intercultural part of that system means that their curriculum combines language and culture. An example of this is that Quechua is a native language so it is taught because it is part of their culture rather than English that is not widely spoken in this region of Peru. The US education system does incorporate intercultural curriculum into education, however they are lacking the bilingual part. I personally think Spanish should be a part of US education. There is an increased amount of diversity in the US with Hispanic becoming a large portion of our country's population. Additionally, when traveling abroad Spanish is widely spoken in many countries. I wish that I would have been taught Spanish during my primary grades of my education. If there was something that I think is truly amazing about education in Peru it is their feel of community in the classroom as well as their bilingual education. 

Our day was finished with a group dinner at Papacho's. Then it was time to get some much needed rest after a busy 3 days! Tomorrow is our last day in beautiful Cusco! 

~ Taylor Hanna

Monday, July 11, 2016

In Machu Picchu

Today was our highly anticipated visit to Machu Picchu.

Our day began bright and early (4am) to ride a bus, a train, and then another bus to take us to our final destination. We had gorgeous views of snow-capped mountains and streams as the train navigated through the mountains. Waking up long before the sun and taking various forms of travel was exhausting, but well worth it.

Machu Picchu is absolutely breathtaking. It is one of the Wonders of the World, and rightfully so. The ancient Incan ruins are prominently featured within the lush mountainsides of the jungle in the Andes Mountains. Machu Picchu was built in the 1440s by ancient Incans and its name translates into "Old Mountain," a title given by the locals. We had the opportunity to see Machu Picchu from a bird's-eye view and walk through the ruins, on the same ground the Incans once walked. Viewing the ruins at different angles and heights only intensified its ancient beauty. In addition to the lush vegetation, llamas also roamed the ruins. Llamas are larger and stronger than alpacas. Alpacas cannot handle the heat in the jungle area of the mountains.

After seeing Machu Picchu and taking more pictures than we will ever know what to do with, we shopped in the local market and ate lunch at a buffet in town. Although we could have stayed and admired Machu Picchu all day, we had to make our journey back to our hotel In Cusco to prepare for our visit to the Panticalle School tomorrow.

~ Caitlyn Sampson

Sunday, July 10, 2016

In the Sacred Valley of the Incas

We were very eager to try out the breakfast at Casa Andina, with hopes and dreams of something other than soupy eggs to accompany fruits and grains. We mounted the steps to the 4th floor at 7:30 am to find French toast, rolls, slices of bread, thin yogurt, cereal, fruit juice, coffee, less soupy eggs (but still very moist), and  small pieces of watermelon, pineapple, Papaya, and banana. After so many repeated days of the same breakfast, our hotel continental breakfasts have become mediocre, at best, to us.

Regardless of our individual feelings on breakfast selections, we were filled up and ready to head out for our adventures in the mountains. Our tour guide met us at 8:00 to take us to the Chinchero, Valle Sagrado (Sacred Valley), Ollantaytambo (Inca ruins), and Pisac. We were to leave Cusco (11,000 ft above sea level) to reach 12,000 (abs).

Leaving Cusco we had had no idea the astonishing views we would encounter. The snow capped Andes, the humble farms, and the beautiful traditional attire of the people in the towns we passed through were incredible. We even had our tour bus stop to let us take pictures of the view along our route. We learned that whole village will work on one farm as a community at at a time.

Our first stop was at Chinchero. Here we learned about the construction of the buildings. If it’s an important building, usually you will not see mortar between the rocks. Many buildings have a foundation created by Incas, and on top you can see a physical change in construction of the building when the Spaniards colonized the country. At the church (an important building based on the non-mortared foundation), we saw a change from rock to adobe that was painted. The Spaniards told people from Chincheros that the walls and ceilings of the church must be painted. So, the church has a plain foundation and very beautifully painted walls and ceilings. Even though the Spanish oppressed the peoples of this area, they still carry on traditions of carrying Christian figures through the town on certain holidays. We got to witness the recessional of a wedding and preparations for a wedding to follow at the same church. The steps were littered with confetti. Our guide, Fernando, told us that when there is a wedding in the village, the whole village must be invited.

At the end of touring the village, we went to the market that occurs once a week. Textiles are bought and sold, shoe repairs take place on this day, and a plethora of foods are available to purchase and eat. We saw some of the guests from the wedding (with confetti in their hair) eating in the dining section of the market. They prepare sheep’s heads in a soup/broth  and eat every bit of it. Our tour guides favorite part of the sheep head is the brain. We ate cherimoya and passion fruit  from the market.

We continued ventured down through parts of the Sacred Valley and eventually made it to Ollantaytambo. The Inca ruins at Ollantaytambo are a sight of incredible human feats. The rocks used to build the walls for the ruins were brought over from the other side of the mountain. We can still see that paths used to roll rocks to the top of the tiered farming platforms. Food was grown in the valley area and on these platforms because of the rich supply of water and nutrients. We could see the remnants of the food storage buildings high in the mountains nearby. Every structure within the ruins was built with regard to the position of the sun, the seasons, and the amount of wind. The ruins are positioned where we can see the sun shinning on the farming platforms during the summer season. During the same season, the sun will shine on the water fountain, casting a shadow only inside the Chakana (a cross-like figure used by the Incas). The food storage buildings were built high in the mountains so that they received a large amount of wind to keep their crops cool.  Unlike many Inca ruins, this location does have a military fortress at the top. Many of us hiked all the way to the top to look around.

Weaving our way through the Sacred Valley, we made a stop for a lunch buffet at Tunupa. There was a variety of traditional dishes from an alpaca stew to tres leches cake. The food overall  was very delicious. And, it was in an absolutely gorgeous setting. There were even animals for us to feed. Emily, Alyssa, and Caitlyn fed alpacas with grass.

From there we took off for our final stop before heading back to the hotel. We arrived at Pisac to take a look at the Inca ruins, the farming terraces (or andenes), and the empty tombs in the mountain. Unfortunately, looters removed many of the mummies from the tombs. Now farmers live at the top of the mountain to keep guard of the remaining Inca mummies within the holes in the mountain. We took off for home right after I got very sick.

Of our group of 11, we had 2 who battled altitude sickness and 1 who was  getting over a stomach illness and 1 with  the stomach illness was just beginning. Each of these individuals were troopers.

~Katelyn Keighley

Saturday, July 9, 2016

In Cusco

Today was a very laid back day. We traveled to Cusco from Lima and the view from the plane of the mountains was breathtaking. When we landed we went to our hotel and then walked around the city for a bit.

For lunch we went to Don Tomas and I tried a Peruvian twist to ravioli and it was fantastic. After lunch we all took time to relax talk to our families and adjust to the altitude before we went out and explored the nighttime life of the city. For dinner we went to Incanto where I had alpaca pepperoni pizza and it was better than I thought it was going to be. Today was relaxing so we can enjoy the week to come! We have a busy week ahead of us.

~Kayla Hall

Exploring in Cusco

Today we had our last breakfast in Lima, which was so bittersweet. We had an early flight to Cusco this morning. My anticipation of seeing Cusco for the first time grew every half hour on the plane! As soon as I walked off the plane, I immediately fell in love with Cusco. Everyone was attached to their phones as we all took an abundance of pictures of the beautiful city we had just arrived in. 

Once we got settled in out hotel rooms we went to Don Tomás for lunch. I decided to order a dish I grew familiar with, that I had eaten in Lima, ají de gallina, which was so delicious! After lunch everyone went to their hotel rooms to rest from such a long morning of traveling.

A few hours later, a couple of us wanted to see a traditional Peruvian dance performance. We got to witness some of the night life in Cusco on our way to purchase tickets for the dance performance. We walked by the beautiful Qoricancha. The group fueled up at dinner to prepare for our fun-filled day of exploring in the Sacred Valley and Ollantaytambo tomorrow!

~ Alyssa Jones

Friday, July 8, 2016

Rural education, gender gaps, and Human Resource Development

Hola from Peru! This morning, we enjoyed our next to last breakfast at the IBIS hotel. Shortly after, we headed to Universidad de Pacífico where we first heard from Ms. Maria Isabel Ponce from the Ministry of Education.

Maria discussed education in rural areas as well as intercultural bilingual education (IBE) in Peru. It was very eye opening to hear the struggles that these children face by living in rural areas. There are 3 elements that seem to define what "rural" is. The first element is that the students in these areas live in extreme poverty. In addition to the negative impact of the elements of poverty, there are other elements that distinguish it as being a rural area, like being malnourished. More than half of the children in rural areas ages 0-5 are malnourished! How can we expect for them to function in school and get an education when they do not have the proper nutrients to survive?  The next factor is that the schools and the population itself is highly scattered in this area. There are no main conglomerates. All of these factors come together to portray the rural environment, although trying to describe what is rural in Peru is not an easy task! We also found out that almost half of the IBE schools have teachers that are not qualified to teach in bilingual languages!

The next speaker we heard from, Magrith Mena, talked about the gender inequality in education in Peru. We found out that men earn 30% more than their female counterparts in the labor market. There are currently many gender inequalities that need to be examined more deeply. One is that gender equality is much more complex than just "boys" and "girls."  Another limitation is that we try to homogenize all woman and all men. Other gaps like mother tongue is also very numerically different.  Non-poor students are ranked closely together in regards to gender, but those that are poor have a larger gap. The next indicator looks at the total population at secondary schools. The age higher than what we expect as the "norm" (2 years older than the expected age), in both rural and urban areas are the ones that are more vulnerable to experience a lag in education according to their age, is much higher in rural areas. If we keep watching only the national gaps of gender, we will not see progress. It is important to represent both male and females in regards to gender equality. Her presentation was wonderful and extremely interesting, especially for a group of all women!

After our two presenters, Dr. Aliaga and I grabbed lunch at Papachos. It was delicious! I had a "pepper" burger with cheddar, shoestring fries, mushroom, and all different kinds of sauces.

After lunch, we headed to the Catholic University to speak with Prof. Paloma Martínez-Hague, who is part of the Human Resources area at the school of business at the Catholic University of Lima.  I got to specifically speak with her about human resource development (HRD). We discussed about how HRD is currently in the practitioner stage. HR is much more informal in Peru. When discussing research, Peruvian companies are just dealing with survival and not really focused on the research. Peruvians look at life in the "short term" and they want their money now. They are less likely to invest in an HR team. It was very interesting to talk to her about HR and I was very glad to have this personal meeting with her!

For dinner, we went to a beautiful restaurant named La Rosa Nautica. They had a selection of seafood, chicken, and much more. It was right on the beach front in a beautiful scenery both inside and out.

~ Emily Griffin