19 June 2019

Fulbright TGC Day 2: Lima

It is amazing what a difference consecutive hours of sleep can do.  After a big breakfast, Violeta presented information to us regarding the Peruvian school system, which is a centralized system with a national curriculum taught in nearly every public school.  In Washington DC this winter, we learned some of the basic information about education in Peru and we were asked to develop guiding questions that are tailored to our individual interests and assignments here in Peru.  Mine are all related to language learning:

  • What opportunities exist for bilingual education?
  • What languages are taught?
  • Are indigenous languages taught elsewhere in Peru?
It was interesting for me to learn some partial answers to these questions today.  For the most part, English is a required subject, but it is not always taught by qualified teachers.  Not every English teacher actually speaks English, unfortunately.  There is a small movement to teach indigenous languages like Quechua (the language of the Incas) in those communities, but resources are scarce and qualified teachers are even more scarce.  

Language barriers remain a huge issue of equal access to education throughout the country, and just as in many places in the world, Arizona included, rural communities lack resources, expertise, and access that some schools in more urban areas have.  There are striking similarities between indigenous communities in Peru as well as places like the Navajo Nation.  There are few books published in Quechua or, say, Navajo, few libraries outside of a school in these communities, and few teachers who are fully trained and also have the culturally relevant backgrounds and understandings to help students in these communities reach their potential.  How do you recruit Native students to become educated and trained to return to these communities as teachers with the resources to meet the needs of these students?


We took a short walk to the Parque del Amor on the cliff overlooking the coast.  Surfers were braving the cold water on this foggy day.  The park is decorated with lovely mosaics depicting lines of poetry from Latin American poets and the names of famous couples like Florentino y Fermina from Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Love in the Time of Cholera.  My favorite appealed to the Scorpio in me:

This will be my revenge - that one day a book will arrive in your hands from a famous poet and you will read these lines that the author wrote for you and you will not know it.  -Ernesto Cardenal

Another section of the mosaics with the Pacific Ocean in the background.

After lunch we were taken to the Fulbright Foundation where we had some photo opportunities.

Our full group with Violeta.

Our next presentation was a detailed history of the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) Movement, which was a Marxist terrorist cult who committed extremely savage attacks in their attempt to lead a revolution in Peru.  This began in 1980 throughout 1992 when its leader, Abimael Guzman was captured, and until 1996 when it was finally defeated.  The people most affected by this group were Quechua-speaking young people living in the poorest regions; because of the remoteness and distance from Lima, the centralized government failed to intervene, and then later did so with equally violent effect.  The ramifications are still being felt today.  I think this tragic history is something that few Americans are even aware of in spite of the fact that it was not in the distant past.  Learning about this has made me realize how insulated and insular our sense of the world often is in the US.

We had a lovely dinner on our own this evening and I enjoyed a lovely Sopa de Criolla (rich broth with noodles, beef, and a poached egg).  


  1. Sounds like you are learning a lot. So enjoy your story.

  2. I love the mosaics! The "revenge" quote is especially fantastic. Now I have a new poet to check out.

  3. I'm so jealous. Thanks for the update.