Archive for the 'From Abroad' Category

On Toothaches, Titicaca, and Dreaming

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 Dr. Melissa Gibson

Isla Amantaní sits in the middle of Lake Titicaca, a rock of fields and homes rising up out of the water. It is said to be the spiritual center of the world, and staring out at the Andes and the expanse of Titicaca’s deep blue, it’s easy to see — and feel — why.


Sunset at Casa Muñay, Isla Amantaní.

This year, I ended my time in Peru on Amantaní, a guest in the house of Mamá Fernanda and her sons, José Luis and Luis Alberto. Their simple home sits on the northern slope of Amantaní, and for 48 hours, I got to sip coca tea, stare at the lake, and marvel at the life they get to lead. There are no cars on Amantaní, so rather than the sounds of the city, the island echoes with bleating sheep, a very loud and angry burro, and — when the colectivos arrive onshore with their tour groups — a symphony of Andean flutes. I was drawn to Amantaní because, after a month of teaching and shuffling eleven undergrads around Peru, I knew I needed a few days to decompress, recharge, and breathe. When I land in Milwaukee after this annual month abroad, I must hit the ground running, the busy life of upper-middle-class America not waiting for me to catch my breath.

What a stark contrast that is to the life of Fernanda and her sons. They live in two humble but loved houses, just up the hill from one another. During high season, they welcome guests into the family home that sits below; the rest of the year, they tend to their sheep and crops. Fernanda spends her days washing potatoes, cooking meals, laundering linens — and shouting up and down the hill to her sons and neighbors about whatever matters in that moment.

At my first lunch on her verandah, Fernanda hugged me tightly and let me know just how happy she was to have me as a guest. And over our remaining meals together, she told me how much she loved being able to work in tourism now, how much she loved learning Spanish as an adult so she could communicate with more people, and how much she loved running this business with her boys. She smiled at me as she assured me, even when your children are grown, you miss them and want them near you; how grateful she is that her boys didn’t move to Puno and instead live right here, with her, where she can make sure they eat right and are always loved. With my own hectic American life waiting to charge forward, I couldn’t help but think, this is the life. Tranquility, beauty, family, rhythm. How much easier to live without the constant need to be more and do more. How much easier to live in a community where every single person knows and helps one another. How much easier to have what you need and no more. At Casa Muñay, Fernanda’s home, there is solar powered lighting and hot water, hand-woven blankets, freshly cultivated meals. There is no wifi, no TV, no malls, no danger. There are no city lights to block out the Southern Cross at night, no interference to block out the moments of each day. In my 48 hours at Casa Muñay, I couldn’t help but think how wrong we’ve got it in the modern, industrialized world.

Of course, this is not the whole story of Amantaní. Amantaní is also considered a community of extreme poverty in Peru, and that fact is evident in the missing teeth of elders, in the worn out shoes just barely covering feet, in the partially constructed homes. Amantaní is isolated, a two- to four-hour boat ride from Puno, depending on the age of the boat, and options for life on the island are limited. In my first conversation with Luis Alberto, Fernanda’s younger son, I learned that he, like so many of the students I have come to know at UARM, was a Beca 18 recipient — a government scholarship for the top students from Peru’s poorest areas to attend university in Lima. But he didn’t accept it. Lima is far and hard to get to. He knew he would need support living there, and who would provide that? Plus, Fernanda needed support here in Amantaní; at that point, his father was still working in the Amazon jungle in agriculture, one of the only options for work to support his family. So Luis didn’t take the scholarship. When he can, he takes classes at the university in Puno in tourism, but otherwise, he is making do with the life that he’s always had on Amantaní — taking care of his mother, watching fútbol in the plaza with his cousins, and bringing tourists to their home via Airbnb.

And Fernanda — Fernanda, who is so grateful to be working in tourism now with her boys, knows that tourism is her survival. Her husband spent most of her boys’ lives working in Lima or in the Amazon, while she was here on Amantaní, trying to survive with little food and little help. Over breakfast, she told me how her mother and her grandmother had suffered living on Amantaní, and how her own boys suffered growing up here, where there are no jobs, no food, no adequate medical care or education. A few years ago, her husband died in the jungle where he was working. The family has yet to go there. It is expensive and far and he’s already gone. She told me how every day, even before her husband was lost to the jungle, she would cry, and when her boys were big enough, they said, “Stop crying, Mamá; we are going to take care of you. We are going to bring tourists to our home and make a business.”

However, high season is only three months. The rest of the year, the family tends to their fields and flocks. Tourism provides enough money so that they won’t go hungry in the off-season — but not enough money to help Fernanda with her teeth, about which Luis Alberto told me, “Se sufre mucho por su dientes.” My second day at Casa Muñay, Fernanda woke up with a terrible toothache. Her jaw was swollen and hot, clear signs of infection. But the medical post on the island doesn’t have antibiotics, and Puno is hours away by boat. Before she could go anywhere, she needed to bring water to her sheep, finish her potato harvest, and hang the wash in the sun (and she refused my help because I am a guest in her home). Instead, she made an herbal poultice to put on her jawline, gladly accepted my bottle of ibuprofen, and went about her daily life. She will get to a medical clinic when she can — if she can — and odds are, this is just one more tooth she will lose.

My students and I ended the academic portion of our time in Peru considering self-determination, a concept we don’t typically talk about in teacher education coursework. What is it? Why is it necessary for justice? As we considered these questions from an academic perspective, we also considered them experientially in the small town of Andahuaylillas. In town, the local Fé y Alegría school is bilingual and bicultural, Quechua and Spanish, and local pedagogical specialists spend their workweeks in isolated high-altitude communities, accompanying the educators and families there in their own journeys of educational self-determination. We also visited Cuyuní, one of those high-altitude communities, where families are transforming the material conditions of their lives through sustainable practices, economic cooperatives, and partnerships with the Fé y Alegría teachers. At our final seminar, predictably, my students marveled at how both of these communities defied expectations of rural poverty, how people seemed so happy and proud with what they had, and how neither seemed to be a community in need. These communities were making their own way in the world, partnering with those who have additional resources when they can, but proudly holding onto their identities, cultures, and communities.


Mural at the parish in Andahuaylillas.

The reality, however, is complex, and I’m reminded of that as a guest at Casa Muñay. In this month, I have wanted my students to see each community they meet through an asset-based lens. I have wanted them to see strengths and innovation and community; I have wanted them to see beyond the surface of needs and deficits to instead meet communities through what Eve Tuck calls a “desire-based” lens. Tuck tells us that desire

““[Y]es, accounts for the loss and despair, but also the hope, the visions, the wisdom of lived lives and communities. Desire is involved with the not yet and, at times, the not anymore.”

But it’s not enough to simply see desires rather than damages. Seeing those desires doesn’t undo the fact that injustice persists. The question is, what will we do once we see those desires? How will we accompany communities as they move towards making their desires a reality?

In so many ways, the life that Fernanda, Luis, and José have constructed for themselves is beautiful, but it is also fundamentally unjust that Fernanda suffers from crippling toothaches, that they never got to say goodbye to their husband and father, and that their community’s livelihood is threatened by a changing climate not of their making. I don’t believe that acknowledging these things is giving in to deficit or damage-centered thinking. Rather, to acknowledge these things is to acknowledge the complicated reality that Fernanda and her boys live in, or as Eve Tuck says, to acknowledge the “complexity, contradiction, and the self-determination of lived lives.” Reality: Jesuit teaching tells us we need to humbly submit to the multitude of realities that exist in the world in order to accompany one another on our struggles to transform those realities toward justice. So maybe justice requires an acknowledgement of reality, but also a dream for what’s next. Justice is the desire for the “not yet,” and the “not anymore.”

When it comes to education, we keep trying to define justice as a specific, concrete thing: Equal funding. Desegregated schools. Parental choice. Equalized achievement. Standardized curriculum. Individualized teaching. Project-based learning. We want an answer, a solution, a ten-point plan.

Instead, maybe we need to consider Nancy Fraser’s assertion that justice is achieved through negation, through a state of always fighting back against the injustices we see:

““[J]ustice is never actually experienced directly. By contrast, we do experience injustice, and it is only through this that we form an idea of justice. Only by pondering the character of what we consider unjust do we begin to get a sense of what would count as an alternative. Only when we contemplate what it would take to overcome injustice does our otherwise abstract concept of justice acquire any content. Thus, the answer to Socrates’s question, ‘What is justice?’ can only be this: justice is the overcoming of injustice.”

In this understanding of justice, it becomes easier to sit with the complicated reality of places like Amantaní or Cuyuní, to understand that self-determination requires that we dismantle systems of injustice, but that we do so while also honoring and submitting to the beautiful, complicated, rich lives that persist in spite of those injustices. Because, to again quote Eve Tuck, “This is to say that even when communities are broken and conquered, they are so much more than that — so much more that this incomplete story is an act of aggression.”


Fé y Alegría, Andahuaylillas.

Instead, justice demands that we see colonial histories at the same time that we imagine decolonized futures. Justice demands that we celebrate what Mamá Fernanda and her sons have built at the same time that we fight for fundamental human rights, such as adequate health care. Justice demands that we learn to listen, to witness, and to accompany. Justice demands, as Tuck calls it, desire:

“Desire is about longing, about a present that is enriched by both the past and the future. It is integral to our humanness…Desire is the song about walking through the storm, a song that recognizes rather than denies that pain doubtlessly lies ahead.”

Or maybe not. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m still entrenched in damage-centered thinking. What I do know for sure is that, after a month in Peru, there is so much I don’t know other than the power of human connection. And I am also sure that this human connection—along with uncertainty, outrage, creativity, and joy—is essential for moving social transformation. In her book, We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching & the Pursuit of Educational Freedom, Bettina Love quotes writer and activist adrienne marie brown, who says, “All social justice work is science fiction. We are imagining a world free of injustice, a world that doesn’t yet exist.” Love goes on to connect this to freedom dreaming, or the ability to envision and struggle towards a future of freedom where you can “create your reality, where uplifting humanity is at the center of all decisions.” This is not easy work. No, this is struggle. And freedom dreaming — or what Love also calls abolitionist teaching — is

“[W]elcoming struggles, setbacks, and disagreements, because one understands the complexity of uprooting injustice but finds beauty in the struggle. Abolitionist teachers fight for children they will never meet or see, because they are visionaries. They fight for a world that has yet to be created and for children’s dreams that have yet to be crushed by anti-Blackness.”

Abolitionist teachers are driven by desire, by sovereignty, by joy, by love, by rage, by relationships, by principle, by imagination, by struggle. And I feel all of these things as I sit with Mamá Fernanda, who is smiling and talking to me despite her pain. My time with her, like all of my time in Peru, is a “yes, and” experience, an experience that re-roots me in desire and freedom dreaming and an urgency to do more in my daily life to transform our world toward justice. And if nothing else, I hope that after a month in Peru, my students are also freedom dreaming about a world that is not yet, but will one day be.

From Lima to Cusco

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

machu-pichu-peru-inca-places-monuments-a419a5-1024It is hard to believe our time in Peru has come to an end. As I am writing this final post on the flight home, I find myself reflecting on the experiences of this past month. Though this month flew by, it feels like I have been in Peru for so much longer. This last week in Cusco has given me an entirely new layer and context to my overall understanding of Peru. The Andean context is so different than that of Lima, the lifestyle is different, and the culture is different, giving schools in the Andes unique strengths and challenges. These various contexts do matter when it comes to education because it determines the needs of a school and the aims of education. For example, in the Andes students will often walk hours to and from school because transportation and schools are not as accessible as they are in Lima. Additionally, the language and culture of Quechua is something that many students are a part of, but it is looked down upon by the rest of Peru. Since the soil is not ideal for growing many fruits and vegetables a lot of students are lacking these nutrients. These are just a few of the major challenges that are specific to an Andean context, that are not present in Lima.

When it comes to an “equal education”, if there is anything I have learned from this month, it is that this term is anything but black and white. Of course education is not going to be exactly the same in both Lima and Cusco, because of the totally different contexts and ways of life. An “equal education” does not mean providing the exact same materials or teaching in the exact same way to two populations with different needs. In fact, this would be giving one group the short end of the stick, despite it being equal by definition. Therefore, no, the education in Lima and the Andes is not equal, so the question is, is it equitable, or fair considering the circumstances and ultimately, is it just? From the perspective of the Fe y Alegria school we visited in Cusco and having that be the only example of a school from the Andes, education is equitable- to an extent. There is also an important caveat regarding which education in Lima we are comparing the Andean education to, since as we established in our time in Lima, education in El Agustino is far different than education at La Inmaculada or Roosevelt. This all being said, I would say that the education at Fe y Alegria is most equitable to the education at La Inmaculada, due to the dual language component, relatively high-quality facilities and many excellent teachers, all present in both schools. It is also important to note that these two schools served students from different social classes, but both had Jesuit pedagogy coming into play. Also, I do not think that this judgement can extend to schools across the Andean region, as from what we learned at Fe y Alegria, there is inequity within schools in the Andes, specifically those that are in more remote areas. Those schools have a lack of resources, the most important of which being teachers and social workers to best serve their students. This shows that disparities in education are present everywhere, but also vary depending on context.

Much of the reason for the disparities in education among different communities we have seen in both Peru and the United States is due to segregation. Segregation in schools was ended by Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, but as Gloria Ladson-Billings points out in her article, “Landing on the Wrong Note,”this landmark decision caused other issues within schools. Though integration happened, black culture within classrooms and black teachers were lost as integration was forced into white schools. Additionally, overtime schools became segregated again as white families moved out of the cities, and schools once again operated within the bubble of its specific neighborhood. Though segregation is illegal, it still happens, and it was even more obvious in Peru because we came face to face with it. Power also comes into play here when it comes to resources and inequalities because the schools with the people who hold the most power will get the best resources. When this happens, the achievement gap between communities, races or social classes will widen. I noticed this context in Peru when we were in Cusco and the woman at Fe y Alegria was talking about how Quechua culture is not the norm and is therefore often forgotten in areas where it is not practiced. This relates to segregation because the Andean communities are geographically isolated, and it results in the same effect in terms of who gets the most resources and support.

This relates to our shift in mentality of what we are going to do with what we have learned in Peru when we get back to the United States. When thinking of solutions, it is important to consider all contexts and come at things from an asset-based approach, seeing the strengths of every community. When it came to Brown, I do not think an asset-based approach was used because it disregarded both the needs and positives of the African American schools, and they suffered in the long run. Sometimes the easiest or most seemingly obvious solution is not the best one. It requires a lot of forward thinking, time and consideration from all parties involved in order to come up with the best solution to such big issues such as the ones we have discussed this summer. Even after this, solutions will still always need to be reevaluated and tweaked, in order for them to continue working, as populations are always changing. Ultimately, it will take a lot of work to make a dent in the educational disparities that we have seen this month. However, we have a good foundation by considering and having in-depth discussions about these issues and what we can do going forward in our professional lives. This time in Peru has been unforgettable and I am taking so much back home with me, including a greater appreciation for various pedagogies, my own education and Peruvian culture and people.

Coming To An End

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

Buenas noches! I am officially back in the States and able to reflect on my last week of my study abroad trip to Peru. We spent the last week of our trip in Cusco after being in Lima for the first three weeks. We had the opportunity to sit in on classes at a Fe Y Alegria in Andahuaylillas, play with kids at a Ludoteca after school program, and participate in an Andean ritual and visit a sustainable house in Cuyuni.

From the time I got off the plane, to the end of the Andean ritual, I could tell how drastically different Cusco was compared to Lima. Cusco was much more traditional in look and feel compared to the very urban feel of Lima. Men, women and children were dressed in traditional clothing and were more ‘reserved’ in nature. I think there is a strong sense of culture in Cusco and this was really important for me to understand upon traveling here so that I could better comprehend the way of living and especially the way education works. The context that you are going to experience and learn from is very important so having background knowledge is pertinent.

1_vHZ3W4yfMZerk5ffgUXTMQ.jpegThe school that we had the privilege of visiting was called Fe Y Alegria 44! It is a privately funded, public school in Andahuaylillas. This school is bilingual and they speak Spanish and Quechua. Something that I immediately recognized in the school was how lively, colorful and fun all of the classrooms were. They seemed to encourage learning along with the playfulness of being a child which I thought was different from classrooms I saw in Lima where most of the art was based almost solely for learning purposes. Something else that I thought was very encouraging was the way that they approach the use of both languages. In one of the classrooms, the teacher asked them about Quechua, if they know it or not, if anyone in their family speaks it and what they think of the language. These questions were not asked in a demeaning or negative way but rather in an explorative and curious way to get the kids to think about questions they may not have thought much about. From the few days I spend experiencing the Andes education system, I found that their ways of teaching harbored positive thoughts, actions and ideas and while there are a lot of differences between the Andean education system and Lima’s, I think they are equal. They are equal because the kids are learning important skills such as math and science but also skills like healthy coping mechanisms, self-esteem and more. In some ways, I think that the Andean education system may be a step above Lima’s regardless of the material things that some of the schools in Lima have.

In all of these context we talk a lot about flourishing and about being a whole person and how to get to that point. In education one of the most crucial things a student can have is self-determination. In all of the schools that I visited in the past month, there is one thing that didn’t change throughout, and that is the will of these students to succeed in all aspects. You could see through their attentiveness, thoughtfulness and eagerness that they did not take their education for granted. I think that the students and the families of these students know how helpful a solid education can be and how challenging it is to get into the public colleges that are free so they work extra hard to set themselves up for success. Even if there goal is not to continue on to college but to get a job right after, they work incredibly hard to learn the trade skills that they need to get hired. I also think that self-determination in an education system means advocating for themselves and having the self-esteem to do well for themselves.

Throughout this trip we have also talked about power operating within these contexts. In the Fe Y Alegria, power was operating in a very positive way. The students were learning from the teachers and the teachers were learning from the students. Their classrooms were very respectful, safe environments where the students seemed excited to express themselves in whatever medium that might be whether that’s theater class or astronomy. The Spanish language is much more social than English so there is always a little bit of chatter in the classrooms but the teacher never punishes kids for that. They ask them kindly to be quieter but do not make a scene. I think the way these classrooms are run can happy, intelligent children.

When I look back to the schooling that I experienced verse the schooling that I got to look in on in Cusco, I think there’s a lot of similarities. Most of my teachers taught with the same energy as the teachers in Cusco but I also had teachers that did not foster a healthy classroom environment and you could see that in the success of the students. In my future career, I would want to work with teachers to give them tips and tricks to inspire students to do their best and to want to come to school because I think often times if kids don’t feel like their in a welcoming environment then they aren’t going to want to learn.

It’s to believe my month long study abroad trip is truly over but I have learned and experienced so much that I cannot wait to use in my future. Thanks for sticking with me throughout my journey!

Schools…Are They Failing?

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 Brooke McArdle

We spent this past week in Cuzco, moving around a lot to visit our last school and afterschool program, as well as visit various ruins and experience more of the Andean culture. I did not know what to expect from Cuzco and I did not realize how much I missed the sun! During our time in Lima, we had only a few hours of sun on one Saturday; however, in Cuzco, I think it was sunny almost every day. Our bus trips up, down and around mountains as well as our train rides made me feel like I was in another country because it was so different from Lima. The geography, languages, weather, and culture all differed from what I had experienced in Lima with my host family and while visiting our different educational contexts there.

Cuzco was mountainous, open and sunny, whereas Lima was congested, the air was polluted, sky cloudy, and car horns could be heard at all hours. Spanish, while it was dominant in Lima, seemed to wrestle with Quechua in Cuzco, linguistically and culturally. These differences were only replicated and echoed in the schools and educational contexts in both Lima and Cuzco. One thing that we saw in both contexts was how privatization impacts education. In Lima, we worked at La Inmaculada for a week and in Andahuaylillas we spent time at Fe y Alegria, both schools have some degree of Jesuit influence. Fe y Alegria is a public school, but more so of a charter school, as the Jesuits fund the social programs for the school.

books-3946080_960_720.jpgThe mission of La Inmaculada, in the spirit of Jesuit pedagogy, is whole person formation with an emphasis on social justice. One of the ways La Inmaculada cultivates this is through the service learning program, which I’ve mentioned in another blog. The purpose of the service learning program is to build relationships between students from Pamplona Alta and La Inmaculada. One of the key aspects of the Jesuit Pedagogical Paradigm is experience, a way to tie in what students learn in the classroom to their personal lives. Creating relationships with students in Pamplona Alta provides students at La Inmaculada with not only friendships but insights into what they learn about in school. This was one of the important aspects of Jesuit education at La Inmaculada.

A central component of the mission of Fe y Alegria was perpetuating and reinforcing the existence of Quechua culture in students’ lives. During our orientation to Fe y Alegria, we watched a video that detailed the importance of integrating Quechua culture into the curriculum. Classes for the younger students begin in Quechua and bilingual education (Quechua and Spanish) begins in older grades. Students learn traditional practices from Andean culture, like dying yarn and weaving. In one of the classes that I observed, the teacher asked the students about their connection to Quechua. She asked how many of the students’ parents spoke Quechua, and majority of the students raised their hands. She then asked how many of the students spoke Quechua, and one student raised their hand. She then proceeded to ask her students why they did not speak Quechua. From the students’ responses and what we have learned about the perception of Quechua and Andean culture, it was clear that parents did not want their children learning Quechua because of the dominance of Spanish and the perception that Spanish is better. The Jesuit mission at Fe y Alegria is to break these perceptions and stereotypes about Quechua and work with families and students to incorporate it into students’ lives. Although both La Inmaculada and Fe y Alegria have Jesuit influence, their missions differ because of their contexts. While La Inmaculada works to provide its students with experiential learning and emphasize the importance of relationships through its service learning program, Fe y Alegria concentrates its attention on the importance and relevance of Quechua, the culture and language prominent, but also preyed upon, in the Andes. The different contexts of Lima and Cuzco play an important role in determining the direction and aims of education for schools in these areas.

In addition to context, privatization was something we saw with La Inmaculada and Fe y Alegria. The article “Worldwide, Public Education is Up for Sale,” by US News, discusses the possible ramifications of privatization. The article discusses how public education is under attack and notes how many people argue that public education is failing so as to advocate for increased privatization of education. However, the article discusses how privatization does not necessarily mean better quality education and better outcomes. It offers the example of Chile, where privatization led students “to self-segregate by religion, social class, race, and family income,” which hurt students and outcomes (page 3). Cabalin’s article, “Neoliberal Education and Student Movements in Chile: Inequalities and Malaise,” also looks at Chile and the impact of neoliberalism and privatization. Cabalin discusses how neoliberalism in education has resulted in the increased privatization of education and thus, disregarded the concept of a just education. In Chile, privatization resulted in more segregation and the further allocation of privileges to the wealthy. The resulting stratification has not bettered the quality of education. In turn, it has generated more inequality. Since the Jesuits play an important role at both La Inmaculada and Fe y Alegria, it is important to consider these schools within the context of privatization. At these schools, the Jesuit mission and its goals for the students are woven throughout the curriculum and schooling experience. Without the Jesuit influence, I doubt the students at La Inmaculada would build relationships with students from Pamplona Alta and I question whether Quechua would hold a privileged place at Fe y Alegria.

In the United States, I’ve heard privatization discussed in the context of outcomes, namely the idea that children educated in private schools perform better. However, this is a misconception, and one that has consequences for equity in education. In Peru, private influence at La Inmaculada did seem oriented to outcomes but with the shadow of Jesuit pedagogy, embodied in supplemental programs, lurking in the background. Conversely, at Fe y Alegria, Jesuit influence seemed more concerned with the incorporation and survival of culture and language native to the Andes, in addition to student success and outcomes. To me, this was another contextual difference between Lima and Cuzco, and one that is incredibly important. The emphasis on preserving and respecting culture is something I loved seeing at Fe y Alegria and it was not something that was only espoused, I physically was able to see it at work in the classroom. As a teacher, care and recognition of culture is something that I want to always be aware of and working towards because I think it is one of the ways that teachers can connect to students and their families in a genuine way.

Peru Has Changed Me

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 Isabella D’Agostino

1280px-Flag_of_Peru_(state).svgMy time in Cusco was an absolute dream. I got to go to Andahuaylillas and visit the school Fe y Alegria and the after school program Ludoteca, participate in an Andean Ritual and visit a sustainable house, visit the Pisac ruins, hike Machu Picchu and the trail to the sun gates, and I was able to do that with my amazing best friends that I made on this trip. I have learned a lot, but one major detail that I learned was that the Andean context is much different than the Lima context, especially in schools.

Fe y Alegria is a school run by the Jesuits in the “downtown” area of Andahuaylillas. Fe y Alegria is not the actual school name, but it is used as an overarching name for 23 primary schools and 5 secondary schools all throughout Cusco, but we visited the one in Andahuaylillas. Fe y Alegria’s school motive goes beyond education, but goes towards being a school for the parents as well. The school starts by being taught in Quechua until the third grade, then it starts bilingual schooling in Spanish. One question that arose to me after learning of the bilingual school is: why make it a bilingual school instead of a dual language school? Dual Language Immersion Programs: A Cautionary Note Concerning the Education of Language-Minority Students by Guadalupe Valdes states that dual-language programs bring two different language groups together. By having the students learn Quechua first then having bilingual schooling in Spanish, they are not bringing two languages together, they are incorporating the two languages in the students’ schooling.

One major difference I saw between the culture of Lima and the culture of the Andes is that the Andean culture is more celebrated in everyday life. From the second we arrived in Cusco, we saw parades of people in the center of town. We saw children dancing wearing their colorful clothing. That vibrant sense of culture stayed with us all throughout our time in Cusco, and we got to see how culture affects schooling in Andahuaylillas at Fe y Alegria.

The Andean school context is very rich in Quechua culture and that is what makes schooling unique in that way. Quechua is the Andean language that is looked down at by many cities in Peru, but it is important to keep that culture alive because it comes with many religious and festive attributes that is all over Cusco. The students at Fe y Alegria learn to love speaking Quechua, but also learn to love and appreciate the people that do not. That is another difference that I saw between an Andean school and a Lima school, because in Lima, English is pushed as a second language to Spanish.

The students at Fe y Alegria have much more hardships relating to school then the students of Lima that we visited. The students walk about 2–3 miles to go to primary school, and since that walk increases to 4 hours when going to secondary school, there is a huge drop of students to continue. 30% of women continue to secondary school since the walk is so long and dangerous that there is fear of being alone, facing violence, and being a victim of rape. The only schools in Lima that I visited with that concern is the schools in El Augustino and IE Tupac Amaru, while La Inmaculada and Roosevelt, being the wealthier schools, have no problem with school transportation.

I wish I got to spend more time in Fe y Alegria and Ludoteca because the education differed in a cultural way than in Lima where to me, the education was focused on a way to become educated to get a job. Fe y Alegria and Ludoteca really focused on helping the students build their relationship to Quechua and using that relationship to better understand their purpose in the world. I want to say that I believe that education in the Andes is equal to education in Lima in that way, but in my opinion, schools in Lima are built to mold their students for jobs, instead of molding students to become the best they can be culturally and educationally. I do want to make clear that the living situation of the students is completely different in the Andes and Lima, and that also plays an affect in why the schools in the Andes learn more about culture and why schools in Lima learn more about working.

After reviewing my time in Peru, I thought back to the article that we read, A Voluntourist’s Dilemma by Jacob Kushner. This article has stayed in the back of my mind for the whole trip, because I wanted to make sure that I/ anyone did not feel like I was only here to volunteer and to try to fix the different educational gaps in Peru. I did not go to Peru to take pictures with Peruvian children and tell the world that I am saving them. I did not come to Peru to have a privilege check. I came to Peru to simply learn how I can be a better teacher in the United States. I firmly believe that everything I learned from my time in classrooms in Peru will benefit my life, my classrooms, and my students in the future.

I have learned so much from being in Peru, and I cannot even put into words on how grateful I am for this experience. I have learned how to combine and appreciate different cultures in my classroom through the schools in Lima and Cusco. I have learned how to take different home lives and incorporate them into the students’ learning. I have learned the real meaning of equity vs. equality, and I now know how to make my classroom an equitable classroom, a classroom that is fair and impartial.

If you have the chance to come on this trip, DO IT. I am so thankful of what I have learned, and I am so proud of who I have become.

The Birth Lottery of Inequality

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 Hannah Denis


Hello from around the world at Colegio Roosevelt.

It’s Just Not Fair

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

Hola! We have just come to the end of the first leg of our trip. This morning I hopped on a plane and flew to Cusco for the final week of studying abroad before I head back to Milwaukee! This past week went by so fast, and yet we packed a lot in. We spent time with the Casitas kids, we took a tour of a public grade school and we visited PEA, an alternative night school in El Agustino. It has been a week of learning and understanding for me, and I think there’s a lot that I can take away from the experiences that we had.

book-4299797_960_720.pngThrough the visits and experiences we have had in different school settings, accompanied by the readings we have done in class and the questions Dr. Gibson has posed for us to think about, I have begun to think about educational inequalities. The schools that we have been to thus far include Colegio de la Inmaculada, Tupac Amaru, Colegio Roosevelt, and Programa Educación Alternativa. We also saw interactive schools like Las Casitas and MLK Sports Program. There were vast differences between these four schools that I would consider to be inequalities. At Roosevelt, an American school primarily for children of ambassadors, business people, and those in high power that move to Peru, there was state of the art technology around every corner. With the school being about $19,000 per year, they had the ability to build a new grade school with advanced learning classrooms, an incredible library, and more, and they have plans to tear down their high school and build a new one within the next two years. This was easily the nicest school that I have seen while here. Colegio de la Inmaculada was a very close second to Roosevelt, with very nice amenities for their students including an expansive zoo, multiple courts and fields, and very nice classrooms. We also visited Tupac Amaru, a public school that was started by the parents in that district. This school, which is not zoned for earthquakes, teaches the students many different trades to prepare them to search for a job post graduation. Lastly, we sat in on classes at Programa Educación Alternativa in El Agustino following our trips to Las Casitas. This school is for those that did not finish their high school education for a multitude of reasons and is at night so those with jobs can still attend. While this school is funded by the government, they still have little resources for their students to use. Throughout all of these schools we have seen different approaches to education. We have seen traditional, straight-from-the-book learning, project-based learning, and everything in between. I think that some of these methods work better than others, but it’s also about the individual. I find that education is sometimes presented in a way that takes away the individuality of students and that is where the inequality stems from. Even though there are these inequalities, I do think there is room for growth and fixing.

We, as a class, have talked a lot about flourishing in education. I think it can be hard to flourish when there is inequality, but I do not think that it is simply a material problem. As humans, often times we want to throw materials at a problem that we think will help without thinking about the ins and outs of using a material. For example, you wouldn’t donate Smartboards to a school with no wifi because they would be useless, and yet people still do, when really the school needs water filters and white boards. I think that educational inequalities can only be fixed by providing effective material goods alongside non-material goods like love and self-esteem and more. This is a problem with many moving parts, and it’s incredibly challenging to get them all to work together. One of the deepest issues I see with educational inequality is the political and moral problems surrounding it. There is a clear notion that the status quo must be kept and in order to do that, the educational inequalities are kept in place. There is enough money and resources in the world to get children just education but it doesn’t work that way because once you give people the power they rightfully deserve, those currently in power lose what they have.

When we look at the different educational contexts here in Peru, you can see how each experience is a little different. There is the more serious types of classroom setting, gym settings, team sports, after school and more. In each of these situations you see different types of learning being done. I think that there is not one type of learning that is more beneficial than others, but together they make a whole learner. If a student is only getting the guided-learning classroom approach without the sports than they are going to lack in the play aspect, that encourages curiosity and learning how to work together with their peers. On the other hand, if a student was only getting the interactive learning, then they would lack the fundamental skills needed like reading and math. In these different contexts there is also differing power dynamics. Often times, we see the teacher teaching and the student learning. What I find to be most beneficial in my experience as a learner is the teacher and the student learning from each other. When we as students see that a teacher can be vulnerable and is willing to learn from their students as much as they can teach them, even if it’s not about the content specifically, it makes for a healthy classroom dynamic.

Looking at my educational experience with the knowledge I have now, I can see how truly beneficial it was for me to be in multiple activities as a kid but also now as a college student. If I only focused on school or extracurriculars I don’t believe I would have had the same success thus far. I can also use this knowledge for my future career, to hopefully encourage students to try new things and take all aspects of their lives seriously because they shape us into the people we are now without even seeing it in the moment. I would encourage teachers to educate their students on their representation and on their individualism so that they have the knowledge in the future of advocate for themselves and others.

As I embark on the final week of my trip, I’ll be seeing one more school and after school program as well as hiking Machu Picchu and visiting small towns near Cusco!

“Justice denied anywhere diminishes justice everywhere.” — MLK Jr.

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