I have been to Peru before when I was 10 or 11 years old but really didn’t understand the importance of traveling and being exposed to so many cultures at such a young age. My mother’s family is from Peru and I now feel a deeper connection to an incredibly rich, spiritual, and strong culture.
Upon visiting various schools of Lumen Dei in Cusco and Lima and meeting dignitaries such as Mr. John Youle, president of ConsultAndes, and Raul Salazar Olivares, macro economist and consultant in Lima, I feel as though I have a better understanding of the struggles Peru faces educating its youth. Despite the struggles to keep the quality education a priority in an ever-changing political environment, Peru’s students are taught that their culture is unique and should never be forgotten. We were always greeted with students dancing in folkloric costumes.
The same goes for Santiago, Chile. We saw many schools, all of which shared similar values in preserving a beautiful culture despite hard living conditions and coming from an at-risk home in surrounding neighborhoods. The children of Mano Amiga primary school were also handing out handmade gifts to us and I received the beautiful small box (or cajita) with hands covered in paint and glitter. They put so much love and time into my gift and it really meant a lot to get it.
I made a friend in Alejandra who is in 1st grade already learning to read a lot and could say many things in English. I was very impressed with her teacher’s ability to command a classroom despite all the visitor interruptions. I sat in the empty desk next to her and listened to her read. She has a bright future ahead of her!