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.