Peru is an exciting country because we have everything here… mountains, beaches, and the rainforest! Right now we are living in what is considered the coast, so to give us a little taste of what life is like in the sierra we got to spend a day with our language/culture teachers in a little mountain town on Thursday.
My group went to Surco, Peru, which has a population of 1,500. We started our day at the High School (ages 11-16) and talked to the students, played games, and went on a little tour of a classroom. The classrooms were very basic, but the school did have a futbol field and a marching band for the local parades.
The dynamic of the students was very much like the USA, there was one or two that seemed to be the leaders of the group and then other’s who were so shy I couldn’t hear a word they said. Also, all students in Peru wear uniforms and I saw one or two with elaborate gold ribbons/tassels connected to one shoulder. When I asked about this I was told that those were students who had the highest grades in their class!
We also visited the municipality and learned about all of the things they are doing to better the community. They have a library and two computers for the kids, a dorm room for students who come to do archeology digs in the area, and a series of projects to promote tourism. There are four beautiful waterfalls in the area and apparently they get quite a bit of traffic from Lima tourists.
Peace Corps is all about hands on training and this week was no exception! Friday all of the business volunteers headed to a Technical College (called “Instituto” in Peru) to give a 50-minute class on coming up with creative business ideas and how to conduct a feasibility study.
We were divided into groups of three and each group included a native speaker to help, since it’s only week two. Our group taught a class of 25 and we had fun using the non-formal education techniques that are the foundation of Peace Corps’ method. We did an activity called “Vaca Loca” and the students had to come up with three ideas of strange/creative/comical businesses that you could create with the cow. Some of the ideas included: a highway for cows, a cow museum, a movement for cow’s rights, a black and white café, an amusement park of cows, and a cheese factory.
Peru’s education system is very formal. Most of the teaching and learning is about taking notes and regurgitating the information; this produces young people who aren’t taught to use creativity or question the status quo. It was fun to move the desks into circles and get the groups to come up with innovative ideas.
I can’t wait to get to site and be able to work more in the schools!