SIT Study Abroad Peru: Indigenous Peoples and Globalization

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While studying and living in Cusco, Peru, one will examine Peru's traditional and contemporary societies. This country is home to one of the largest indigenous populations in the Americas. Explore how indigenous peoples in Peru are adapting and innovating to preserve their cultural values and shape their own future in the face of globalization and rapid change.

Topics for study include:

Rights, advocacy, and policy
Community development
The arts, including pre-Columbian artistic expression
Impact of international corporations

Questions & Answers


based on 9 reviews
  • Academics 7.3
  • Support 8.4
  • Fun 9.4
  • Housing 9.6
  • Safety 9.4
Showing 1 - 9 of 9
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Peru was for me

After completing my semester in Peru, I told myself and my host families I would return before I turn thirty. Essentially, my time in Peru was a healthy balance of school life and personal development. The dynamic of indigenous peoples and globalization being put into question, created an expansive space to learn. The seminar classes often brought in professors and experts to complement the theme of the day. For instance, if we were talking about Communism and campesino communities, the professor brought in for the seminar would have extensive knowledge on the topic. The variety of excursions also opens your eyes to the rich diversity of Peru. Diversity in every sense of the word: ecological regions, traditions, indigenous languages and dialects, etc. Living with host families was something I always wanted to accomplish and thanks to SIT, I had several host families. My main host family was in Cusco (they were amazing) and I had other host families for the longer excursions and my Independent Study Project (ISP). The program tries diligently to have you succeed inside and outside of the classroom. The people in my program allowed me to make genuine friendships and a fun social life.

Yes, I recommend this program
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some luxe field trip

If your goals for study abroad include:
-meeting people from your host country
-having substantive opportunities to practice a new language outside of class
-thinking critically about how race works in a different society
-doing a cool internship or volunteer thing in your spare time
-having the chance to take weekend trips or go camping
-forming close relationships with professors and getting letters of rec for fellowship apps
-any kind of academic rigor at all


Classes are 100% lecture-based and given by a rotating cast of professors, which means you will hear the same introduction to the issues basically every day, never get a chance to form a close relationship with someone, or hear how the different themes the lecturers present are seen to relate to one another. The management actively discourages weekend trips and forbids volunteering and internships. When our methods class got in a fight after they claimed there was no racism against Afro-Peruvians, they managed to backtrack more or less, but told me afterwards that they normally try to avoid the topic of race altogether (in a program titled "Indigenous Peoples and Globalization"!!!!!). Their philosophy is that Peru and the USA are totally incomparable as societies, but also that we are somehow 100% capable of understanding deep and complicated issues within Peruvian society by taking cursory bus tours of indigenous villages and popping in and out of schools. They believe in Humala's consulta previa in the context of government negotiations, but doesn't believe in consulting indigenous subjects before writing anthropological observations of them. They believes in the left's proposals for intercultural bilingual education, but don't seem to care that their classroom is basically absent the intercultural part since there is no space made for connecting with Peruvians. I arrived speaking Spanish fairly well and so have had the chance to discuss some of my concerns with them but they barely give the time of day to people who struggle more with the language.

A side note: It is also very difficult if you get sick on this program because the staff is very liability-conscious and will make you follow the doctor's recommendations exactly, even though they are also aware that the doctor overprescribes. I stopped taking bronchitis medicine a few days early because it cost 13 soles a pill and was giving me hand tremors, and the director said they would send me back to the US for breaking the code of conduct. He also shamed me for being hesitant to waste so much money by implying that I was rich (the SIT insurance makes you pay for everything out of pocket and doesn't reimburse you till you get back). So far I have paid $186, which is over 600 soles, about a quarter of our month's budget for independent research.

No, I don't recommend this program
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Beyond My Dreams

My experience in Peru with SIT was more than I could have ever dreamed of. The program was structured so that I was able to experience the most amount of cultural immersion possible while traveling around Peru and learning about the challenges it faces in a globalizing world. I never thought that I would learn Quechua and live with an indigenous community on an island in the middle of the highest navigable lake in the world! I have made life long friends on this journey and created memories that cannot be gained any other way. I highly recommend this program, it gives you the opportunity to conduct field based research, become fluent in a foreign language, and culturally and politically explore another country.

How can this program be improved?
I would love to spend more time on each of the cultural immersion trips.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Best semester of college!

My 4 months in Peru were absolutely incredible. I can definitely say that studying abroad in Cusco was the best decision I have made in my life thus far. I chose SIT Peru for a number of reasons including the location, program theme, and positive feedback I heard from former students who had studied abroad. The classes were not very academically challenging, but for our seminars we did have a lot of reading which was hard in the beginning before my Spanish improved. The ISP was definitely difficult. I was pushed far outside of my comfort zone when I decided to spend my two weeks of fieldwork at bilingual schools in the rural sierra where the people were native Quechua speakers and wary of foreigners. In the end, however, I formed close relationships with both students and teachers and completing a 60-page ISP all in Spanish felt like a great accomplishment.

I was fortunate to have an AMAZING homestay experience. My mom and brother were very supportive and caring, and truly welcomed me into their family. I learned a lot about Peruvian culture from them, and they certainly helped me improve my Spanish! My mom was a great cook, so I enjoyed delicious food. The vast amount of potatoes and rice that makes up a large portion of the Peruvians diet was certainly a challenge. Not being able to eat raw vegetables, including salads, was difficult for me. That being said, I did my best to keep an open mind and loved how much fresh fruit there was. Meat is also very common, and I got to eat cuy many times during my fieldwork. It's actually really good!

Having Cusco as a home base was fabulous. It is a beautiful and culturally diverse city, and being able to walk a block from my house to a cozy café or take the combi to the Plaza de Armas to do work was a unique opportunity that I certainly took for granted. The night life was also fun, and it was great to have so many options within such a manageable distance.

Traveling around the country was one of the highlights of the program. I will never forget the time we spent with an Indigenous community in the Amazon, with our "second" host families on Lake Titicaca, and at schools in Lima sharing our culture with the children and learning about theirs. The fact that the program only had 18 students was unique, and I made many close friends. Being back in the states, I miss Perú so much. I would definitely recommend this program, and would give anything to go back!

How can this program be improved?
Although the ISP was an integral part of the program, I felt that some students didn't receive all the support that they needed. In addition, I would have liked to take more Quechua instead of only 2 weeks. It was really unique and interesting and in my opinion, more would have been better.
Yes, I recommend this program
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I deeply cherish my study abroad opportunity with SIT Perú: Globalization and Indigenous People program. Community within the program grows deeply and closely between the students within the program and the program staff, while also offering endless possibilities for you to be as much or as little immersed into the Peruvian culture, and that of Cuzco specifically during your time there. The lectures and courses we took within the two and a half months in Cusco and travelling to other communities during the excursions were challenging and enriching, providing a unique and realistic visual of the diverse culture, the history of the indigenous communities, and the current state of indigenous communities and their lands today in Perú. The experiences during the excursions were all so beautifully different, but enticing in how we learned hands-on about cultures and the people of varying indigenous communities, learning values and crafts of their communities alongside them. However, the most life-changing aspect of this program, other than the love and care of Alex Alvarez, the program director, and Milagros del Carpio, the program coordinator, is the month-long independent study project. The idea that a program would grant you the opportunity to study not only a topic of your passions, but also with a community or in an area of the country which interests you most, is beautiful-- especially when the first two and a half months of the program help to create, form, and execute your topic of investigation, with the aid of the knowledge and encouragement of the program staff and your own personal adviser who specializes in the theme of your investigation.

Investing in the culture and the communities and hearts of the people of Perú was one of the greatest decisions I have ever made. I went to learn about Peruvian culture and study the language, but I left with a heart full of locals who felt completely like family, of memories and laughter of adventure, self-discovery and exploration, and of an enrichment in not only the Spanish language, but of what it looks like and means, and feels, to get your hands in the dirt alongside of different versions of "Peruvian". A part of me, and life, and love, and home, and place, and the power of people and storytelling remains in the mountains of Perú, in friendships with fellow tíos and tías, and in el monte of the Amazon jungle with more family with the people of Quero who so invitingly and humbly allowed me to live with them, taught me the elements of their culture, and filled my heart and knowledge with stories of the past and what it means to be Wachiperi.

Yes, I recommend this program
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A 4 Month long Party where we learned a ton.

Daily life:
The director who teaches everything, Alex Alvarez was not a good teacher. He rambled on and on, got off topic sooo easily and was super boring and I didn't learn very much from him. BUT the guest speakers were awesome and Milly, the program director (I forget her exact title) is just the best. We used to call her Mama Osa because she was our mama bear. Rosi was also amazing, I forget her title...
I happened to be sick non-stop because of the altitude but I was the only one. The hospitals in Cusco will try to charge you a ton for everything but my host mother fought for me.
My host mom was the best. You eat 3 meals a day in their house and she couldn't have made me feel any more like her own child, I even called her "Mama" which they suggest you do to build a better relationship with them!
Cusco is a party center. It's just the best time, lots of free drinks, dancing, etc. I wouldn't say it's the most "authentic" experience in terms of getting to know Peruvians because the classes are only US students, but if you really try you can!
Our group was small so we got very close and had a great time.
The excursions were also great! I studied abroad in Cuba as well but in SIT Peru you get the chance to see so much of the country. The capstone project also adds so much and I'm using my research for my thesis. I highly, highly recommend this program!

How can this program be improved?
The only down side is the program director, who isn't great, and that you can't leave the country or travel alone. I understand why, for liability reasons but it kinda sucked that being in South America we couldn't travel more....
The hospitals were also not all that great in terms of treating the actual problem and not extorting you, but that's just Peru. I was sick so many times but I survived so it's fine.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Great experience overall

I loved Peru, and really recommend seeing this country and getting to know its people. The program didn't prepare me as well as I thought it would for the ISP research month, but it turned out well anyway and I'm so glad to have this research to help me in the future. I loved living with a host family, the excursions, and the topic of the program. Overall a great experience.

How can this program be improved?
I wish they had prepared us better for our independent research, and that the classes had been more academically challenging. Still, this program is way better in terms of academics than the other programs in the area.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Independent Research and Educational Excursions

The Independent Research Project is a unique opportunity, and was largely why I chose the program. You get to design and execute your own original research project on a topic of your choice. The structure is very individual based, and you have almost complete autonomy in doing this project. There are mentors, which vary from extremely helpful to no help at all.
The first 2-3 months, however, is very structured with educational excursions and immersion in various cultures throughout Peru. These are very helpful in developing the interview and field research skills necessary to execute and ISP.
I became very good friends with my group (we were only 11) and the directors were very supportive and helpful. My host family was always nice and a very good method of practicing my spanish and getting involved in the local scene.

How can this program be improved?
I think that the program could promote more involvement in local activities. Soccer games, local clubs, etc.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Cultural immersion and Independent Research Project

I was looking for a program where I could be immersed in Spanish, be academically engaged, and travel a lot! The educational excursions and the independent research project really drew me in.

The best thing about this program was that you would never feel like you were stuck in a routine. Our main base was in Cuzco, the andes. About every two weeks we would take an educational excursion --the coast, the amazonian jungle, the high plains, the canyon.

In Cuzco I developed close friendships with my classmates, and had a great cultural experience with my host family. There were lots of opportunities to explore archaeological sites in the day time and the exciting nightlife in the evenings.

The independent research project was very rewarding--I got to design the study, conduct interviews and write an analysis in Spanish. I feel like I gained a lot of professional skills as well as confidence during my study abroad experience. I would highly recommend this program.

How can this program be improved?
The independent research portion was challenging, I would change the mentorship structure, and also would have worked harder to be a self-starter.
Yes, I recommend this program


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SIT has been providing immersive, field-based study abroad programs for undergraduates for more than 50 years. SIT offers more than 70 programs in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East, as well as comparative programs in...