Archive for the 'From Abroad' Category

The Many Sides of Peru

This summer marks the third College of Education faculty-led study abroad trip to Peru. Dr. Melissa Gibson and 11 of our students are studying and learning in Lima while also traveling the country. Their blogs are originally posted on Marquette Meets Peru, and we’re excited to share them with you!

By Mary Kate Jezuit

It is hard to believe that we have already been in Peru for a week. This week has been very eye-opening and has made me excited to continue with the program. I have realized what I want to get out of my time in Peru and how I want to approach our experiences here. I have learned a lot about Peruvian culture, but also about the inequalities and various faces of Lima, and Peru in general.

The theme of this first week for me has been acclimation, but also centering myself through reflection. Visits, tours and lectures were overwhelming in the moment, as I found myself trying to take in every last detail. It is more important, however, to think back on the things that stand out and stay with me hours after I leave. Those are the things that are inspiring curiosity within me and that I can elaborate and reflect more on. Through seminars, long bus rides, my own journaling and these blog posts I hope to be able to process what I have experienced and think of questions I have and connections to things I am familiar with in the United States. Through reflection, I have come to realize that my goal for this program is to be present and take full advantage of everything I can learn and experience here, but to also use down time to think more deeply about what I have seen and what it can mean in the systematic context of education and on a personal level.

City_of_Lima,_PeruFrom our introductory lecture at UARM on the first day, I got a sense of why Peru was an ideal location for our studies of education. I was surprised to hear how the geographical diversity of Peru contributed to the education system and the socio-economic classes of Peru. Education and other resources are far more accessible and well-resourced in Lima, for the most part. In the Jungle and the Highlands, communities are usually poverty-ridden and high-quality education is scarce, so only the very best students continue to a college education, in Lima. The development of pueblos jovenes, however, has changed the dynamic of education and social class in Peru. Many people moved from the Highlands and the Jungle to these pueblos jovenes, located in the hills of Lima, for better opportunities for employment, claiming land and starting again with almost nothing. Overtime, these pueblos jovenes become more developed, but it is still hard to access education, or the residents cannot afford it.

Visiting one of the newest pueblos jovenes, Pamplona Alta, made me realize how difficult it can be for their residents to access water and the rest of Lima. This was probably the most powerful experience I have had in Lima thus far. It was a long journey, but it showed the stark contrast between the wealthy areas and the pueblos jovenes, separated by the Wall of Shame. I was surprised at how quickly the scenery changed from extravagant homes on the ocean to small homes with metal roofs. In the United States, I feel like it is more common for there to be a greater separation between classes. The Wall of Shame sends a very obvious message that there are certain people who the wealthier side of the wall does not only not want to associate with, but also to not be able to have the resources or potential for economic mobility. This is a blatant display of power that reminded me of what we read in Nyberg’s “A Concept of Power.”

Nyberg discusses how power exists anytime there is a relationship between two individuals as well as the four forms it takes. This example of the Wall of Shame reminded me of the fiction form of power, where the party with more power is able to create the narrative of the people they have power over. The people with more power were obviously the ones who built the wall, which begs the question of where their power came from and who consented to this power. This is obviously a loaded question, with no clear answer, but the general answer is usually along the lines of power being associated with economic wealth. In this situation, the people of the pueblos jovenes may seem next to powerless; however, they are able to exercise power through creative means. The residents of Pamplona Alta installed fog catchers to repurpose the water from the fog for their own use. They also are able to begin to exercise their own power by opening up stores and installing dry toilets for themselves, which symbolize upward mobility and progress. Though these neighborhoods may be poor monetarily, they are rich in so many other things, which was quite striking to me. From walking around for a few minutes and meeting some of the residents, it was obvious that they were family-oriented, driven and positive people. The community shared a close bond and there were signs of innovation and progress everywhere. A teacher of mine would always discourage us from using language like “poor/bad” to describe low-income neighborhoods because it diminishes the assets that these communities already have. I kept being reminded of this when visiting both Pamplona Alta and El Augustino and through our discussions of looking at what strengths a community has as opposed to all the things that need to be fixed. Seeing these assets first-hand gave context for this idea and I could not agree with it more.

All that I have experienced this week, brings up a topic we discussed quite frequently: Why are we here? It is true that we are neither tourists nor simply volunteers. We are here to learn. Volunteering has a connotation of serving somewhere for a certain amount of time and then leaving and returning to your normal life. Learning means that we are taking what we see and do in schools and communities in Peru back to the United States and using it to inform our studies at Marquette and professional lives. We are studying both the pedagogy we encounter in Peru and how it comes into play in the context of vast socio-economic inequalities. This idea is central to the way I will approach future experiences and will ensure that I am truly learning.

Just the Beginning…

This summer marks the third College of Education faculty-led study abroad trip to Peru. Dr. Melissa Gibson and 11 of our students are studying and learning in Lima while also traveling the country. Their blogs are originally posted on Marquette Meets Peru, and we’re excited to share them with you!

By Allie Bosley

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We’ve been here for 6 full days now and yet it seems like it’s already been a month! When I decided to go on this trip to Peru, I truly didn’t know what to expect, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised. The people are so kind, the food is better than anything I could ever make and I am already learning so much. We came to Peru to experience, something that seems so simple but I’m sure some of you reading that this includes volunteering or being a tourist. We are not here on a mission, this is not charity work nor is it a site seeing voyage, but it is an opportunity to understand a different way of life, to hear from people that are so similar yet so different from myself. I think one of the most important things I have taken away from just experiencing is that this is not a time to pity, to feel bad, or to have a privilege check.

In the The Voluntourist’s Dilemma by Jacob Kushnerit discussed the way that people often times come on a one week trip to underdeveloped countries, with no skills in building and with no invitation to come help, yet take it upon themselves to build a school or play with the orphanage kids. These things can cause serious economic and social disruptions in the communities because they are not sustainable contributions. Life is so vastly different here than it is in Wisconsin or Vermont, that it’s not a matter of who has more or less, but rather a comparison of ways of living. There are simple differences like not being able to flush your toilet paper down the toilet, cars honking constantly, and people being open to greeting you on the street. Then there are the complex differences such as building homes out of scraps, having a water supply from fog, or using sawdust toilets — we really need to jump on this water-saving technology.

The biggest connection that I see between Peru and the US is inequality amongst the citizens. There are people with enough money to eliminate hunger in their country and there are people that do not have enough money to buy food every day. In Inequality in Peru: Realty and Risks by Oxfam, which we read before we left, it talked about the differences in rural versus urban living. There is a lack of resources, opportunities and education in rural areas that makes being successful that much harder. One thing that was very striking is how inaccessible clean water is. Billions of houses are not connected to a clean water supply and if they are, it costs 3–10 times more money than it would for those living in an urban area because of the challenge getting the water to those locations. Another inequality is the income gap. Those living in the highlands and the jungle are twice as likely to be in poverty than those that live in the coast. This is, again, thanks to the lack of opportunity and resources. It is harder to find jobs that will pay a livable wage, when you also need to spend a good majority of your time caring for your children and parents, growing food, and finding water. One last large inequality we see here in Peru is based on how indigenous an individual is. Those that are 100% indigenous are twice as likely to be poor compared to those that are not. Education can also much easier to access and of higher quality on the coastline, and specifically more urban areas. Tomorrow we will visit one of the nicest schools in Lima, called Colegio La Inmaculada, and we will get to experience what schooling is like there, with the context that there are places where school can not even be in session for a full day because there is not enough money to pay the teachers. I am curious to see what differences and similarities we will encounter.

Today, I had the opportunity to go to Miraflores, which is a very nice district on the coast of Peru. In the 15 minute drive I noticed just how different the city was street to street. This part of the city was very green, there were beautiful skyscrapers, and like the article notes, more light skinned Peruvians. While it was clear to me why it was like this, it was still very surprising to me. Differences like calmness in the streets, less people and stunning houses were all indications that this district was very financially stable. While it was cool to see this area, it also made it very clear to me that this city is divided and that not everyone is being given what they need to thrive. I think things like inequality are so important to talk about when studying abroad because it follows you everywhere. There are few places in the world where there is no inequality. Especially in a country where there is presidential corruption, you can see how it affects the people. The interested of a small percentage are put in front of the interests of the entire country because of finances. We must look at this and understand this is and be aware of the fact that there are people that are not being given the same love as others and that their voices are being taken away from them because the government knows if they get those resources and opportunities and find their voices they will take back their power as well. It is important to recognize these inequalities so that you can also realize how important your voice is, how meaningful it can be and how much we all deserve to have our voices.

As I look back on this week, I have found that reflection has really helped me. We have been encouraged to try multiple forms of reflection. For my internal reflection, I have been journaling and taking time to myself through meditation. The journaling has been a great way for me to be able to remember the things that take place during that day and really process all of the emotions I went through. The meditation part of my internal reflection, I use are time to clear my head and turn down the outside world. We do external reflection as a group and bounce our thoughts off of each other. I think this is vital so that you can hear what other people’s experiences are and learn from what they saw and heard.

All and all, this first week has been even better than I expected! Another update will be out in a week, chau!

New to Peru

This summer marks the third College of Education faculty-led study abroad trip to Peru. Dr. Melissa Gibson and 11 of our students are studying and learning in Lima while also traveling the country. Their blogs are originally posted on Marquette Meets Peru, and we’re excited to share them with you!

By Gabriela Oliveras-Bonaparte

Buenas Tardes de Peru,

Those that are reading this may know that I am in Peru for a month through the education program at Marquette University. What you may not know is what exactly I am doing while I am here. In what feels like the shortest week of my life, I have been wondering the same thing. We read a piece called “The Voluntourist’s Dilemma,” which talks about the dangers in going somewhere for one or two weeks and working on some sort of project like building a school. The issue with this is that often when people do this they are not properly trained and are taking away work from locals who are more qualified. Also, more often than not these voluntourists do not think about the future like, for example, who would be staffing these schools. Fortunately, I know for a fact that this is not what we are here to do. This past week I have gotten to know the city in which I am staying, played sports such as soccer and other games for the international day for the right to play which was this past Saturday the 25th. We have also listened to many stories from various community members. I have come to the conclusion that I am here to learn as much as I can from the people I will be working with and meeting. I am also here to reflect on my experiences and connect them to what I already know and dig deeper to find a greater understanding.

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Pamplona Alta, a pueblo joven

Coming on this trip, I think I have a bit of a different perspective than my peers because of my Puerto Rican background. Not only do I compare and contrast Peru with the United States but I also do so with Puerto Rico, which is a territory of the United States. Since Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States, we depend a lot on the States for aid and protection when we need it. But since we are not recognized as a state, we do not really get a say when it comes to the United States government. I never really put two and two together to realize Puerto Rico is not the only place that depends on the United States for things. Here in Peru I was having a conversation with one of the students from the University with which we are partnered on this trip. This student was asking me about my opinions on the U.S. governments and how I felt about certain political issues. Finally I asked how they knew so much about a country that felt so far away. This student informed me that Peru depends a lot on the States for certain kinds of aid. I never realized how much the United States impacts other countries but it has been interesting to see what kinds of things the people of Peru do when depending on one another.

First things first, I want to share some things I have observed during the time I have been here. We were fortunate enough to visit Pamplona Alta, which is said to be a pueblo joven (young town); this is where some of the poorest people live near the city. These towns are created usually by people migrating from the jungle trying to get closer to the city for better educational opportunities for their children and better health care. While visiting this pueblo I was very impressed with the amount of innovation I saw, such as people building their homes out of scrap metal. Although things like electricity and water pumps are more scarce than in the city, the people of Pamplona Alta seemed to have high spirits, or at least the people with whom we interacted. Our first visit was with an older woman who had a little tienda (store) with some basic snacks and fresh fruits. She originally worked long days in construction, which was rare for a woman, but then decided to open a shop close to home to protect her two daughters during the day. Her graciousness and openness to tell us her story was something that I admired and am thankful for. Next, we visited a casitas program near the store. Casitas (which translates to little house) is an after school program. Our visit to Casitas was very brief, but in the short time we were there you could just feel all the love, joy and excitement that was in the room. We were greeted by hugs and smiles from several children from the program as I am sure they were happy to have a distraction from doing their homework. Even though we were only there for maybe five minutes they wanted to show off their English skills so one boy said to me, “Libro es book, si?” Their eagerness to learn seemed so pure. Even though these people had very little material-wise, they seemed rich in so many different ways.

In terms of power, I tried to analyze this community and how power is inflicted on them and ways they are able to take back power. According to Nyberg, “A Concept of Powe,” there are 4 types of power: force, fiction, finance, and fealty. I believe one type of power to be inflected on pueblo jovenes is force and finance. In terms of force, there are literal walls built separating these communities from more affluent areas which are put there to prevent them from infiltrating. Also it is apparent that the poor stay poor so I would believe something as well known as the poverty cycle might reflect what I would say is force in terms of power. The government seems to want to have little to do with these communities except to keep them away and on the outskirts of the city. Although force is being acted upon pueblo jovenes, we know that this type of power is not sustainable, which we have seen before with terrorist groups in Peru like the Shining Path who killed in efforts to try and get the government to recognize their needs. So if this type of power is not sustainable, I wonder what lies ahead for these pueblo jovenes and the city of Lima in general.

Week 1 in Lima, Peru: What Makes us Human

This summer marks the third College of Education faculty-led study abroad trip to Peru. Dr. Melissa Gibson and 11 of our students are studying and learning in Lima while also traveling the country. Their blogs are originally posted on Marquette Meets Peru, and we’re excited to share them with you!

By Lily Regan

Holy cow…talk about an overwhelming week — from Chicago, to Miami, to Lima! And now even within Lima, moving from Pueblo Libre, to the city center, to El Agustino, to Pamplona Alta, to Miraflores. Within just the past week, I have seen so much more of Peru than I thought I would see in my entire month here. From rich to poor and everything in between. From sitting in hours of traffic and listening to the constant symphony of honking horns to driving up unpaved roads with dogs wandering the streets. From places with no running water or electricity to the bustling marketplaces selling everything alpaca. From the seemingly endless levels of homes housing who knows how many relatives to a small shop that can only fit about three people comfortably. This trip has been a trip of stark contrasts and surprising similarities; every place has had something totally unique to teach me about Peruvian culture but has also shed a light on what it is that connects and unites all of us as human beings despite geographic location or class differences.

The first stark differences that I saw when first arriving to Peru were mostly in regard to the collectivist mindset and the way people live. For example, when I first got to my host family’s house, I was extremely thrown off. As I was getting a tour of the home, I noticed that some of the house was exposed to the outside. As I walked from the living room into the dining room and kitchen, there was an external wall to the left and a roof over my head, but there was only a half wall to my right. I could feel the light mist in the evening air on my face as I walked through the hallway towards the kitchen, yet I was still walking through what they called their home. As I peered over the half-wall to my right, I saw what appeared to be other houses all situated around the central courtyard. This was very confusing to me at first. I wondered who the people were that were living in those other “houses.” I could not wrap my mind around why the wall was not built all the way to the ceiling. Was the courtyard that was in the center of all the “houses” a common area? And where was the privacy? Who would want to live with neighbors surrounding you? In the past week, I have begun to fill in the gaps and now have a more complete understanding of how crucial family is to the Peruvian culture and why exactly the house is laid out in this way.

I have come to understand that there needs to be spaces open to the outside; there is no air conditioning, so having the constant air flow is crucial. Because the temperature in Pueblo Libre rarely drops below a temperate 13 degrees Celsius, there is no need for air conditioning or heating, and the outside air maintains the house’s comfortable temperature. In addition, rain other than mist is very uncommon here in Lima, the second driest capital in the world, second only to Cairo, which means that full coverage of your house is not completely necessary. Also, what I assumed were other houses surrounding the courtyard are all connected to the “main” house and essentially function as different apartments within the house. The different sections of the house actually are homes to many of our host family’s extended family members. This was very much a shock; coming from the United States where independence and individual achievements are praised, I was not expecting to see adults choosing to live with their extended family. However, Peruvians have traditionally valued the success of the community and familial relationships over individual achievement. In addition, while there is not as much privacy in the house, it does not seem to be an issue for anyone living here. Privacy and personal space do not exist here in Peru as they do in the United States, which can be seen based on their typical greeting of kissing total strangers on the cheek and families living together long after they “should have moved out” according to the United States’ standards.

These things were all especially confusing to me because before the trip I was told that I would be going into a middle-class neighborhood with a middle-class family. However, middle-class families living in the United States do not have portions of their home exposed to the elements, and middle-class families do not all live together unless absolutely necessary. Certainly, this was not a middle-class family.

But it was! My host family, and the surrounding neighborhood is considered a “B-” neighborhood. In Peru, the classes are classified by letters, with A being the most affluent and E being the most impoverished, so this was a solidly middle-class family. These people did not necessarily need to be sharing all of their space or having so much of their home open to the air; yet, these were all choices that the family was making based on their culture. That was one of the things that took the most getting used to. It was a difficult hurdle to leap in my mind that independence does not necessarily equate to a better family or a better individual.

But despite all of the seeming differences, I have also seen so much that reminds me of home. The values that people share regardless of geographical location or class and the commonalities that make us all human are so much larger than all of the physical differences that I was able to see.

The neighborhood that seemingly had the most differences from the life that I live in the United States was Pamplona Alta; however, it was also where I was able to see the most connections to home. The “pueblo joven,” or young town, which is situated on the hills in the outskirts of Lima is considered a class E neighborhood. They do not have running water or electricity, and the roads are unpaved. Many people have to make an hours long journey to get simple necessities such as food and water from more accessible parts of Lima to their homes. This, in my mind, gave everyone living in Pamplona Alta the right to be miserable. But I actually found quite the opposite to be true. Every person that I saw on our short visit to the district was smiling, waving, welcoming us with open arms. I saw parents and grandparents working hard so that their family might have the opportunities that they did not have when they were growing up. I saw kids smiling, drawing, and playing with friends. All around me, if I looked past the physical objects that become the center of attention all too frequently, I saw people who reminded me so much of home and so many values that I strive to live out. I saw people that were determined, hard-working, grateful, happy, proud of their accomplishments, loving.

But it did, admittedly, take me quite a while to recognize all of these similarities between my own town and this newly developing community. When I initially saw the physical differences, I was immediately saddened by the “desolate” community that I saw. I wanted nothing more than to donate money to the schools, to help people fix their homes, to pave the roads, to install running water and electricity…but then I had time to reflect on the very long, trafficy bus ride home. And I came to realize how wrong I was about all of my initial reactions to the community. First of all, upon reflection, I was able to identify just how similar the community really was to my own community, and secondly, I was able to recognize the fault in my initial instinct to help the people in Pamplona Alta by making it “better” according to my own standards. I thought back to the article that we read for class written by Jacob Kushner titled “The Voluntourist’s Dilemma” that explains why these well-intentioned thoughts and subsequent actions by “well-off” people may ultimately cause harm to the “less fortunate” community that they are trying to help. Instead of asking the community what they need, volunteers come in and supply the service that they deem to be the most urgent; they take jobs that could be done by members of the community because they naively try to help the community. With these actions, the volunteers place themselves above the people they are trying to help. They do not see the members of the community as humans; they see the community as a project and the people within the community as helpless people that NEED help. I realized that this was my gut reaction to seeing the neighborhood.

Based on Kushner’s article, my own experience with the people of Pamplona Alta and the time I took to reflect, I have come to recognize that these ideas could not be further from the truth. I had to imagine how I would feel if someone that was not from my country or culture and did not even speak my language came into my community and began “fixing” everything they saw wrong with it; they began to go over all of my hard work with what they thought was better. From this perspective, of course these hard-working, proud people do not want me to come in to “fix” their community! It is this simple shift from sympathy to empathy that allows me to be able to truly see the communities that we visit in Peru. Understanding that even impoverished communities are rich in culture, history and relationships and finding the similarities has aided in this transformation.

Despite the language difference, the cultural difference and the geographical difference, it is incredible to me that there is so much that connects us all. This past week in Peru has really taught me how to value the similarities just as much as the differences in communities. From what I have seen from my time here in Peru and my time living in the United States, humans are humans. We are hard-working, take pride in our work, and want the best for our children. Children are children. When they are nurtured and cared for, they are happy; they love to play; they are filled with hope. No matter the number of physical belongings, in the end, we are all humans. No matter the cultural background or longitude and latitude, it is good to be reminded that at the core we have so many similarities that far outweigh the differences.

 

The New Normal

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Street art in Miraflores, Lima.

This summer marks the third College of Education faculty-led study abroad trip to Peru. Dr. Melissa Gibson and 11 of our students are studying and learning in Lima while also traveling the country. Their blogs are originally posted on Marquette Meets Peru, and we’re excited to share them with you!

By Melissa Gibson

Temblor: A new word in my repertoire to describe my experiences in Peru. Temblor: tremor, or what you feel during an earthquake. In the wee hours of Saturday-into-Sunday, Peru’s Amazon jungle was struck by an 8.0 earthquake, and here in Lima we woke up to a minute of door-rattling, bed-shaking temblores. To me, it was terrifying. My Peruvian friends have told me too many times about how Lima is overdue for a major earthquake and how damaging it will be to the poorer parts of the city, so when the temblores started, my heart raced to keep pace with the shaking—even though, by earthquake standards, the shaking was pretty mellow. When it stopped and Google’s disaster alerts told me everything I needed to know to be reassured, I still couldn’t sleep. Every rattle of a door, every creak in the mattress jolted my heart back to racing.

The next night, as I turned off the lights for bed, I felt a wave of anxiety wash over me, and I had to talk myself down: There was nothing to be nervous about. Go to sleep. Deep breaths to calm my racing heart. It’s not earthquake season. The epicenter was hundreds of miles away. Probability is in our favor. Eventually, I gave in to an uneventful night of rest.

So imagine my surprise when, Monday night, I am sitting in my bed finishing up my preparation for the next day’s seminar and: temblor. No more than ten seconds, but the shaking was now unmistakable. A 4.6 on the outskirts of Lima, barely perceptible to Limeños because, as my friend Marisol says, they happen all the time with the change of season. (In fact, I am reminded of my first time in Lima when the toilet started shaking, and I only realized it was an earthquake the next day when people were talking about it at school.) Yes, more precarious neighborhoods evacuated their houses Saturday night just to be safe, but on my street? The neighbors partied through the whole thing, cumbia band and all. And on Monday night, I gave myself a little pat on the back that my heart stayed at a normal pace and I was able to fall asleep, earthquake anxiety at bay.

This is what it is to spend time in a foreign country not as a tourist. So many things are anxiety-producing when you first encounter them: The traffic. The piles of ceviche. The fresh fruits and salads. The toilet paper situation. The jumble of Lima’s streets. The conversations in Spanish. The walks through crowded market streets with a group of 30. The visit to a pharmacy. The mysteriously uncooperative ATM. The temblores. But then a day passes, a week passes, and without realizing it, you’ve slipped from anxious unknowing to a new rhythm of daily life. New words, new ideas, new experiences.

This first collection of blog posts from our 2019 Marquette University study abroad experience, “Education in the Americas,” lets readers in on what this process of learning a new normal feels like. You’ll hear about the students’ host families, their first impressions of Lima, their muddled conversations in Spanish. You’ll also hear them trying to make sense of it all—because, after all, this is a study abroad experience. And that’s where I come in. Our month is designed so that students acquire the philosophical and pedagogical tools to make sense of what they’re experiencing and then to transfer those understandings back to their home contexts. I don’t just want them to know the word temblor, and I don’t just want them to roll with the experience Limeño style; I also what them to be able to articulate why that experience matters.

In this first week, our conversations in seminar have focused on naming the power dynamics and structures of inequality that we encountered, and trying to locate ourselves in those systems through Ignatian-inspired reflection. While I have assigned the readings and designed the experiences, the students have to bring all the pieces together for themselves, for their own sense-making. This can be challenging for me as the teacher. There’s so much I want them to know! But I remind myself that the purpose of our month abroad is not to make them experts in philosophy or sociology of education but to help them learn how to think critically about unequal social contexts of schools. Our purpose is, yes, to experience a new normal, but in doing so, I hope we will begin to see our own normal through new eyes.

The Jesuits here talk a lot about acompañamiento, the process of accompanying or being with someone as they experience and wrestle with life. Accompaniment is an act of solidarity, of partnership, of being in life together. When done well, from a spirit of humanizing and constructivist pedagogies, accompaniment is also what we do when we teach. In this month, I am accompanying my students on their journey into a new normal, and I am accompanying them as they then navigate back to our home contexts of schooling.

These blogs are an invitation to you, dear readers, to accompany us on our journey, as well. We invite you to read in solidarity with our experiences, however imperfect or partial our sense-making may be after only one week into the trip. Let us know through comments what you’re thinking as you read, what questions you have for us or want us to answer, or what perspectives you might bring to our experiences. Accompany us as we consider justice, education and Peru.

 

Everything You Want to Know About Our COED Study Abroad Program

As the spring semester kicks off, the application for our College of Education faculty-led study abroad is open. Dr. Melissa Gibson, faculty leader, has put together a list of frequently asked questions to help students decide if a summer in Peru is right for them!

Do you want to experience educational systems abroad? Do you want to learn or practice Spanish? Do you want to find a way to fit a study abroad experience into your busy life as a double-major? Then join us for our annual month-long study abroad experience, “Education in the Americas.” Need more information before applying? Check out the answers to Frequently Asked Questions below. If you still have questions, email the program leader, Dr. Gibson.

“Every education student should be required to go on this program! It’s life-changing.” — 2018 participant

My sentiments exactly.87

Who can come on the trip?

Any Marquette student, although you should have an interest in education. Most participants are in our teacher preparation programs or pursuing an Educational Studies major or minor.

Do I have to speak Spanish?

No. While Spanish is definitely helpful, it’s not required. The program is designed to accommodate even those with no Spanish background. In week 1, you’ll get some language training at our university partner to learn some subject specific vocabulary. Throughout our time in Lima, you’ll have opportunities to participate in intercambios with university students who are learning English. When our field experiences are not themselves bilingual (English/Spanish) settings, we either have a translator from the university who travels with us, or Dr. Gibson translates. Honestly, you will be amazed at how quickly you pick up survival Spanish! But you have to be willing to try.

What courses do we take, and who teaches them?

Our program counts for two required courses for Education & Educational Studies majors: EDUC 4240/Critical Inquiry into Contemporary Issues and EDUC 4540/Philosophy of Education. The courses are combined into a six-credit, experience-based course called “Education in the Americas,” where we engage in comparative analysis of the diverse contexts, policies, and philosophies of education in Peru and the US. The seminar portion of the course is taught by a Marquette faculty member (in 2019, Dr. Gibson), although all of the educators we meet and work with in Peru are also your teachers.

Where do we stay?

In Lima, students are housed with host families in the Pueblo Libreneighborhood where our university partner, Universidad Antonio Ruiz de Montoya, is located. Pueblo Libre is a residential, middle-class neighborhood in central Lima. Host families are typically experienced at welcoming American university students, and there is often someone in the family who is retired or who works from home and thus is able to tend to you. Students stay with at least with one other Marquette student, and possibly more. When a host family does not speak English, we make sure that at least one of the students living there has some language proficiency. When we travel to the Cusco region, we stay in tourist hotels in Aguas Calientes and Cusco city; in the small town of Andahuaylillas, we stay in a parish retreat center. All accommodations are included in the program fee.

What do we do for the month?

Our program includes significant field experiences as well as regular seminar meetings. For the first week of the program, we are based at Universidad Antonio Ruiz de Montoya, our Jesuit university partner in Lima. This week is designed to give us a bird’s eye view of education and inequality in Peru: we have guest lectures, language classes, and visits to various Jesuit social projects (like PEBAL and SEA) around Lima trying to attend to the needs of low-income and marginalized citizens. During the first week, we also begin working closely with Encuentros, a social project in El Agustino where we end up playing a lot of soccer with neighborhood kids throughout our three weeks in Lima. Week 2 is spent at La Inmaculada, a private Jesuit school serving middle- and upper-class students; we also continue working in El Agustino. Week 3 is spent at a public school in Lima. Your weekends in Lima are mostly free for you to explore, sleep, and eat all the ceviche you can handle. We then fly to Cusco, and travel up to a small town called Andahuaylillas, where we have a field experience with a Fé y Alegría school, a public/private partnership, that serves Andean and Quechua-speaking students. The remainder of our time in Peru is spent exploring the Sacred Valley: Pisac, Ollantaytambo, and Machu Picchu.

Will I have homework?

Yes. You will have readings and seminars on most weekdays, although we try to build time into your days for you to do the readings so that your evenings can be free to spend with your host families. You also will keep a blog while you’re traveling that serves as a reflection on your in-country experience. When you return home, you’ll have a final project to complete. Remember, this is a six-credit course!

How much does the program cost?

In summer 2018, the program fee was $2300. In addition, students purchase their own airfare (typically $700–$1000) and pay tuition for six credits. The 2019 program will likely be similar in cost.

That’s a lot of money. What’s included?

Almost everything! The program fee includes all in-country transportation (airport pick-ups, private coach to our field sites, airfare to Cusco, train to Machu Picchu), all accommodations, almost all of your meals, and entrance fees to cultural events that are part of the academic program, such as our visit to Machu Picchu. It also includes the cost for academic expenses such as the use of wifi on campus, tour guides, guest lectures, seminar space rental, etc.

How much spending money will I need?

That’s hard to say. It depends a lot on you and your taste and budget. Many students have reported that they spent about $300 out-of-pocket beyond their program fee. This is for things like souvenirs, unplanned excursions, eating out, and taxis. If you are a big spender, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to spend more, but most people in Peru live on what Americans would consider to be a small budget. If you don’t want to spend a lot, you don’t have to.

I receive financial aid. Can I still go on the trip?

You are encouraged to talk to your financial aid advisor. There are ways for financial aid to be applied to this program.

I’m a vegetarian/gluten-avoider/vegan. Will I be able to eat?

Yes, but the options may be limited. There are always rice, potatoes, avocados, and fruit. Your host family will be alerted to your dietary needs and should be accommodating with their breakfasts and dinners. You can also do some research ahead of time to find out where there are good spots to eat or grocery shop in Lima for your particular dietary need. But most of all, we recommend bringing a month’s supply of Kind Bars or other filling, protein-y snack to get you through the moments when pickings may be slim.

Am I going to get sick? Is the food and water safe?

Your best bet is to check out what the CDC has to say about health in Peru. In general, if you take precautions — such as drinking only bottled water, not eating uncooked vegetables, only eating uncooked fruits that have a think skin, washing your hands frequently, only eating well-cooked meats, and getting all recommended vaccinations before you leave — you lower your risk of getting sick. If you do get sick, through our university partner and our home stays, we have easy access to medical care.

Is Lima safe? Is Peru safe?

You can find official information on travel and safety from the US Department of State. Lima is a big city, and so you will face many of the same challenges that you do in Milwaukee or Chicago. You will be encouraged to use city street smarts: travel in groups, know where you’re going, don’t walk through unknown neighborhoods after dark, keep your belongings close to you, etc. Traffic in Peru is a challenge, and so as a pedestrian, you have to be extra alert in order to cross streets safely. Our neighborhood in Lima is a residential, middle-class area, and you are staying close to the university. We also have private bus transportation that takes us to all of our field experiences, and we always visit field experiences with someone who works in the community and acts as our guide.

Will I have free time?

Yes. In Lima, the program is designed so that your evenings and weekends are free, with the exception of Saturday mornings when we play soccer in El Agustino. We will often suggest or organize activities that you may choose to join. You can also do your own thing, or stay at your host family and relax. Remember, on the weekends, all your meals are included at your host family. Once we go to Cusco, your free time is less consistent, although you will have time to explore the city on your own.

Since this is a faculty-led, MU program, does that mean we’re going to be in an American bubble?

No! You stay with local families in Lima. We interact regularly with university students at UARM, several of whom will essentially spend the whole month with us. We will usually be the only Americans at our field experiences, where we’ll be working closely with local kids and educators. We have organized intercambios and meals with UARM students. However, when we travel to Cusco, we will be a much more insular group.

Are there other MU students in Peru at this time?

Yes! It looks like the College of Nursing will be running a parallel program to us, and we will be working together to find interdisciplinary opportunities. You may end up sharing a homestay with a nursing student.

I’ve never been out of the country. Is this too adventurous for me?

Not at all! Our first group had several students new to international travel, and they had a fantastic time. The program is designed such that you should feel supported at all times.

I want to go to graduation, though. Can I still study abroad?

Yes! This year, we will depart on Monday, May 20, 2019, with programming beginning in Lima on Tuesday, May 21, 2019.

I have to work during the summer. Doesn’t that make participating impossible?

Not necessarily. We return home from Peru on Sunday, June 16, 2019. In past summers, most students have gone on to work summer jobs in Milwaukee or their hometown without a problem. As long as you can finish your final project while you are employed, there is nothing about the course preventing you from working once you return to the US.

I have to take other classes this summer, too. How will that work?

Marquette’s Summer Session 2 begins after we return from Peru. In addition, many students have taken on-line classes during the summer, some of which overlapped with our time in Peru. They simply made their own time to complete work for that course.

I want to stay and travel after the program ends. Can I do that?

While we recommend that students arrive and depart on the same days, it is ultimately up to you and your family to decide.

How do I apply?

The application is through Marquette University’s Office of International Education. Typically, the application opens around January 1, and applications are due by February 1. For more information on the application process, consult the Office of International Education.

How can we plan our schedules if we don’t hear if we’re accepted until spring semester has already started? What if I’m not accepted? Then how will I take those required courses?

Students are always nervous about this. In the past, we’ve been a very small group, and everyone who applied was able to go. If you’re nervous about your application due to past grades or disciplinary problems, please talk to Dr. Gibson before scheduling your spring semester. In general, though, it’s less likely that you wouldn’t be accepted than it is our group would be too small. The program requires six students in order to run. So drum up some interest among your friends to make sure we have enough students to go to Peru!

Catching up with Courtney Farley

After completing student teaching last January, Courtney Farley finished out the rest of the academic year as a long-term substitute. However, with the new school year beginning, so is her new adventure! Courtney will be spending the next year teaching English in Spain. Read on to hear all about it.

farleyBy Courtney Farley

I grew up in Pewaukee, Wisconsin. I attended Queen of Apostles grade school, Catholic Memorial High School, and then found myself at Marquette. I have one sister, who graduated from Madison last year in biology and is now doing an accelerated nursing program at Madison. My mom works for Sherwin Williams in sales and my dad is a retired lawyer and now loves spending his days golfing. Finally, we have our dog, Guinness, who is a mini golden doodle and easily the family favorite.

I have been attending Marquette Basketball games ever since I could walk. My dad went to Marquette and so did a lot of my cousins, aunts, and uncles. I grew up surrounded by people who loved Marquette and I knew that there was no other college that I wanted to go to. I came into Marquette knowing I wanted to major in Spanish, but not knowing what I wanted to do with it. I have worked at a summer day camp every summer since high school and knew I loved working with kids. I transferred into the College of Ed my sophomore year and absolutely loved all the classes I was taking. The class size and relationships I have formed with my peers and with the professors are incredible and that is what I love most about the College of Ed. You truly feel valued and your professors want you to succeed and help you as much as they can.

Someone who has been an inspiration to me and has made a huge impact is my high school Spanish teacher, Señora Diedrich. She was so passionate about teaching Spanish and made me realize how much I love it. She created a classroom environment where we felt like family and weren’t afraid to make mistakes. She cared about each of her students and helped us along the way. I hope to make as big an impact on my students as she did on me.

I had such an amazing experience during my student teaching at St. Anthony’s in Milwaukee. I was placed in a third-grade classroom with an amazing cooperating teacher. Student teaching can be very nerve-racking those first couple weeks, but everyone at the school made me feel welcome and part of the St. Anthony family. My cooperating teacher always explained everything and always asked for my input and reflections on lessons. Taking over teaching and getting to use all that I learned at Marquette was awesome. Not only did I get to see what really worked in my classroom, I got to grow and learn through those lessons that didn’t go as smoothly. I was lucky enough to get to stay at St. Anthony after student teaching and take over a 4th grade class as a long-term sub. I continued to learn so much about myself and realized how passionate I was about teaching.

I am going to be in Spain teaching English to kids from ages 3-18. I am going through a program that allows me to pull out small groups of children to help them learn English. I just took an online class and got my TEFL certification. I am excited to put everything I learned from the class into practice. I will be living in a small city outside of Barcelona called Vilafant.

While I am in Spain, I will be staying with three different host families. I chose this program partly because I wanted to stay with a host family. I am excited to become a part of their family and live a true, authentic Spanish lifestyle. I am so excited to get to learn more about the Spanish culture and what it means to make Spain my new “home.”

I am also excited to continue to grow as an educator and see what other school systems are like outside the United States and how I can bring back what I learned abroad and implement it in my own classroom.

I don’t know anyone else doing the program. I am going over there and am a little nervous about not knowing anyone, but more excited for the possibility to meet so many new people. This will force me out of my comfort zone and allow me to learn more about myself. I’m excited for the chance to teach abroad and to learn from the people in Spain gets me excited when I think about it. I will be in a whole new country, but I will still be doing what I love, which is teaching, working with children, and experiencing new cultures.

 

 


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