After a L O N G day of travel, I arrived in Cusco, Peru. Cusco is at about 11,000 ft above sea level and the city rests in a valley surrounded by mountains. It is absolutely beautiful.
The IPSL program incorporates service learning into the academic program. Students take courses at the Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola (USIL) as well as volunteer 10-15 hours a week at one of the handful of placements in the area. Classes are taught in English, with the exception of the required Spanish language course and a literature course, so students with varying levels of Spanish can do this program. The University in Cusco is a branch campus of the larger University in Lima. At Cusco, there are about 100 students at any given time from around the world.
While I was there, I visited 3 of the possible service placements:
- The Huillcapata School, about 40 minutes outside of Cusco, where our students work in the classroom, help with agricultural projects, assist in maintaining and updating the facilities, and whatever other jobs are needed.
- The Juvenile Home Maria Salome Ferro, which is in downtown Cusco, is a home for children that are orphans or come from homes that are unsafe. Students lead workshops, help with cleaning and cooking, and any other projects as needed.
- The Clinic of San Juan de Dios, which is about 10 minutes from USIL, is a clinic for children and adults with disabilities. Our students organize activities for the kids, help with meals, cleaning, and general playtime with the children.
Within these placements and job tasks, students are encouraged to look at the needs of the organization and see what else they can realistically contribute to during their semester. IPSL facilitates reflection writing on this experience and hopefully helps our students examine what it means to be a study abroad student serving in the Cusco community.
I also got a chance to visit nearby cultural and historical sites in and around Cusco. Cusco is in many ways considered the historical and religious center of Peru. This was the capital of the Inca Empire and the center of Spanish colonization of the Andean world. You can see examples of Inca architecture throughout the city (including the building you take your classes in!) as well as the churches and cathedrals that the Spanish built.
I fell in love with this city and hope to return to explore it further. Imagine having an entire semester to do just that?!
Here are a few photos from the trip. Please get in touch with me if you’d like to learn more about this program.