UVU Study Abroad program in Peru was held this May 2014. Dr. Sara Ulloa, Associate Professor of UVU Languages Department, and Advisor to the Sustainable Mountain Development Club at UVU led a group of 19 students from Spanish, health, business, engineering and other fields to immerse themselves in the language and culture while providing service to Andean communities.
Group visited several places in Cusco and La Libertad to build bridges of understanding with Andean communities and its peoples. Collaborating internationally, students were able to start research on different aspects in order to promote solutions to problems and enrich the quality of life of its people. Research was based on the influence of the high altitude and remoteness on the living conditions of families, children and women in particular.
These issues were the focus of the Third International Conference Women of the Mountains, which UVU co-hosted in 2012 in Puno, Peru. The Conference in 2012 helped established closer relationships between the Rocky Mountain States, and Utah in particular, and the mountain communities and their families living on the high altitude of the Peruvian Andes. As one of the outcomes of the gathering in 2012 was the decision from UVU to create a study abroad program to bring faculty and students in order to continue work on the issues of gender and sustainable mountain development in Peru.
During their stay in Peru, students met local people from the villages neighboring Cusco and Trujillo and experienced first-hand how it is to live in Andean communities. Students were able to make connections; find similarities and differences among their own culture and the Andean culture in order to intertwine this knowledge to an integrated view of the world. Students who participated in this program returned home with a greater appreciation for others around the world and a better foundation for living and working in order to provide further assistance.
As a part of the program, UVU students also helped locals with schoolwork and brought school supplies and toys for children. In addition, plans for future cooperation between Utah and Peru, specially UVU and Cusco were discussed.
Faculty and students also visited local universities and discussed with local hosts plans for educational exchanges and mutual cooperation. Local scholars and faculty also expressed a strong interest to attend the Fourth international Women of the Mountains, which UVU will co-host in October 2015.
Furthermore, members of delegation were thrilled to visit famous and popular Machu Picchu and other touristic sites. Andean tour taught them about great heritage and skills in architecture of ancient Inca Empire, who were able to reach high peaks of civilization in such harsh environment of the mountainous Andes.
Fritz Culp and Matthew French, UVU students