Catarina on Peru and Chile

Journal entries by Catarina Gutierrez, a Regional Manager at BWB.Now that I have returned from my amazing trip to Peru and Chile, I have had some time to reflect on what this trip has meant to me and what I’ve learned.

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!

I also had the opportunity to meet two amazing recent college graduates, Jody Weseman and Chelsea Shover, and hear about their experiences running book drives with BWB. They were from very different backgrounds and were a delight. It’s so nice to finally put faces to names and bond overseas. They too have amazingly bright futures.


Overall, it was great to see students given the opportunity at quality education and know that both Peru and Chile treasure their folklore enough to keep it alive through their students today. It was an enchanting visit and I cannot wait to return! Many thanks BWB!

One Comment

  1. I am Peruvian and live in Northern Peru with my wife at the present time. We also have lived for years in Ecuador, Bolivia, and Nicaragua.

    We have observed an unbalanced view of the importance of a university education in these countries. In what way? Parents are mostly concerned about have children who are “titled” with a degree which will promote the families’ social standing. So they pay to have their children become doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc. However, most of these fields are flooded and a grad cannot find work.

    The main newspaper in Cochabamba, Bolivia, wrote a front-page article a few years ago lamenting this situation. Only 1 out of 10 grads that year would find work in their fields. The rest would work in other fields, many of them driving taxis for a living.

    The newspaper stressed that attention should be turned to educating young people on entrepreneurship and creating their own jobs ir training in other technical areas instead of relying on getting jobs which just don’t exist for those with a college degree.

    We find this to be the situation in all the countries where we have lived.

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