Queridos alumnos y alumnas,
Our time in Perú has come to an end, and I wanted to use this final blog post to reflect on what you have accomplished this J-term and to say what a joy it has been to observe your learning and your excellent teamwork.
Prior to our journey everyone agreed that the most important goals for our time in Perú were: 1) to improve our ability to communicate in Spanish with fluency and confidence, 2) to learn and become part of the local culture for a time, and 3) to make new friends. But along with these aspirations you had several concerns about cultural immersion: Is my Spanish good enough? Will I get lost or robbed? What if I don't like the food? What if I get sick? Will my host family like me? Will I like them? Indeed the goals that we set for our course were ambitious and they implied real challenges. There is no such thing as easy cultural immersion, especially when it involves navigating daily life in a second language, so among other things I hope our time in Perú gives you a new appreciation for those in the U.S. whose daily challenges include strange food, strange weather and strange language.
In our orientation meetings I emphasized two keys for achieving our course goals and tackling the challenges of cultural immersion: good communication and a willingness to sacrifice certain freedoms (space, time, choices, etc.) in order to experience another way of life. Since we were traveling as a group, communicating with one another and putting aside some personal preferences meant that we had to work as a team, and your teamwork was exemplary. In the future when I have the opportunity to travel again with students I will tell them about my first J-term group in Perú. You guys are the gold standard for teamwork in study abroad!
Our team would not have completed its mission without the excellent attention of our guides, teachers, and host families. In particular I am grateful for Yaneth, our warm and gracious guide in Lima and Cusco. In Trujillo our constant companion Sergio took care of every need, answered dozens of questions, and taught us much about his country. Marcos and the staff at El Cultural provided us with beautiful facilities and opportunities to learn new things every day. Sandra and Carmen, your teachers at El Cultural, committed many hours to helping you improve your understanding of castellano, but they also became good friends. And our host families received us with warm embraces, delicious food, and conversations that we will carry with us for many years. The hospitality extended to us by our Peruvian friends and families has no equal anywhere in the world.
With the help of our new friends and families, and given your own dedication to our course goals and excellent teamwork, I believe that you accomplished all that you set out to do and quite a bit more. Well done, good and faithful students!
Whenever someone asks me about my job, I always say that one of the best perks is being able to travel abroad with students. This J-term reminds me why I am so glad to be a teacher and especially at Luther. It has been a pleasure to join you in this South American adventure.