Students Spend a Month Exploring Peru
Students described it as “awesome”, “crazy”, and “indescribable.”
Over the winter break a group of fourteen UAS students and three faculty members were in Peru on a joint Spanish Immersion-Anthropology trip.
The students and staff members left Juneau on Dec. 11th and arrived in Lima, Peru. From Lima, the group spent a week in the city of Puno on Lake Titicaca where they visited the island of Amantani and witnessed indigenous Quechua culture and traditions. After leaving Puno for Cuzco, they embarked on a four day hike up the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
On this grueling four-day, 33 mile hike, they were able to take in Peru’s vast landscape of mountains and rivers as well as visit the ruins of centuries of Incan past. On the last day of the trip, there was a competition between different international groups from as far away as England and Japan to reach the Sun Gate of Machu Picchu ἀrst, which the UAS constituency won. The group spent the rest of the day exploring Machu Picchu and learning about its history and the significance of the architecture. Students described it as “awesome”, “crazy”, and “indescribable.”
From Machu Picchu the group returned to Cuzco, where they spent a week exploring the museums and archeological sites in and around the ancient Incan capital. After that, the group split, some went for a ἀve day trip into the jungle with Arlo Midgett while others went to Trujillo on the coast of Peru with Spanish faculty Claudia Wakeἀeld and some stayed with anthropology faculty Dan Monteith in Cuzco. All the students returned to Juneau by Jan. 14th.
The trip was organized as a joint venture between Spanish Language immersion and Anthropological study. It was offered as both a Spanish (Spanish 313) and an Anthropology (Anthropology 393) class for a total of 6 credits. The learning attitude on the trip however was very informal. With only one group meeting a day, the emphasis was on learning through experience.
Spanish immersion was described as “definately forceful but very helpful at the same time,” by Freddie Muñoz, a nineteen-year-old from San Angela, Texas who said “I felt decent in Spanish but when I was there if you wanted anything you had to speak it. If you wanted to get to a certain place, if you needed some medicine because you were sick, if you just wanted to get some food you had to speak Spanish.”
From the Anthropological side, the students attended some lectures and kept a ἀeld journal of their experiences in Peru. They also visited the many ruins that dot the Andean mountainsides. Freddie said “Anthropology-wise it was just so eye opening. We went to so many ruins. Ruins are everywhere in Peru. Every city we were in, it’s just like you go out of town a little bit and there’d be some ruins. And even in downtown Cuzco, there’s ruins. Everywhere you go its just history and culture.”
While they were in Peru, the students were confronted with some strange and difἀcult aspects of South American culture. Summer Christiansen, a ἀfteen-year-old high school sophomore getting her AA this semester, noted the differences in food. “Their main specialty down there for food is actually guinea pig, which they call ‘cuy’. They eat alpaca as well. So food was a big difference. If you order a cheeseburger, you’re going to get it with regional cheese, so you have no idea what animal it’s coming from. So it could be guinea pig cheese for all you know.”
For Megan Johnson, an eighteen year-old from Juneau majoring in the Social Sciences, the most valuable lesson from the trip as the attitude of the Peruvian people. As a young person from “a white upper middle class family” Johnson was intrigued that the people she observed were, “so much happier than anyone you see walking on the streets here. There’ll be someone who has no money for shoes and they’re begging but they’re laughing and they’re smiling. I just think that there’s so much that western societies can learn from that.”