Sunday, June 24, 2012

Quick tip re photos

As I review this at home, I note that many of the photos (probably the ones that are in landscape orientation?) are unintentionally cropped.  Click on any photo and you will see it in its full, uncropped glory.

Mr. W

The Bandolista School Project

By Mr. Webster

In most ways, the Peru experience was what I expected it to be, except more and better.  The one area where our experience differed from my expectations was the school construction project.  In short, we expected to be building walls or putting in a foundation, but found we needed to shift our emphasis to reflect local conditions.

If you take a look at some of the photos of Bandolista elsewhere in this blog, you will see that it is an unadorned village of adobe huts with very few amenities.  I am not sure when an outside group last offered resources to the village, but the answer may be never.  They have a community center which doubles as their school for ages 3-5; it provides a room with a few tables and chairs with few actual educational materials. World Leadership School is working with the community president, Salvador, to improve the school facilities, but the community has not achieved consensus on what the project should ultimately look like.  Some would like to tear down the current building, keep some of the materials, and recreate it elsewhere.  Others would like to keep the building and improve it, and build a new community center elsewhere.  WLS falls in the latter camp, but is the outsider.

As we spent a few days creating bottles for the Eco Brick construction method, it became clear that we had no idea whether or when the current building would be moved.  It was also clear to me that, given this fact, it would not be satisfying to our students to create bottles and leave them behind for some future construction work.  That could be part of our work, but I felt (and our WLS instructors agreed) that, in the circumstances, it would be best to create some changes that would be useful right away and might even make it likelier that the community would choose to keep the current building.  So we set out to create a set of blocks for the Bandolista students to play with, and to use as a learning tool.  The shapes were cut for us, and we then sanded and painted them.  For the one that were cubes we painted one series with letters on them and others with numbers.  For the letter ones, we put a word and a picture related to the letter; for the numbers, we added the appropriate series of dots, to help the students link numbers and amounts.  At the same time, we arranged to have the external walls plastered.  We sanded the walls and painted them.  The students now have a block center and alphanumeric learning aids, along with a new, colorful look for their school, as you will see in the picture.  We will also use some of the remaining funds from the trip to purchase more learning materials for the classroom.  While the community members work out their plans for the future, their students will enjoy a better school facility.  We hope to be part of the long term solution in the future.  Once we shifted gears, our kids worked hard to bring the short-term plan to fruition.  And we learned (as we did also in Patacancha) that development is a tricky business sometimes filled with competing agendas that require compromise.

Here's a picture of the school as we left it:

The picture doesn't quite do it justice.  The vibrant color stands out in the field of adobe in all the surrounding buildings and announces the building as someplace special.  I think I can speak for the whole Peru Crew that we love it and hope that it will be improved further and maintained as the school.  

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Starting the journey home

After discovering that many of our ceramic pieces did not survive the firing process (including the art teachers!), and an emotional good bye to our families we boarded the bus and hit the road for Pisaq. As we drove through the town, the valley colonial territory was pointed out but our destination was much higher. Up, up, up we went again to 13,000ft, making it a challenge to catch our breath but it also could have been the cascading terraces and ruins. Pisaq is older and much bigger then Machu Picchu but instead of being tucked in among mountains, Pisaq has an incredible sprawling valley landscape all around it. We hiked through the ruins going up and down some pretty precarious trails but it was worth every step! After we lunched at the Blue Llama and then moved on the the sacred ruins of Saqsayhuaman. There we discovered among the outside temple a natural play ground of rock slides and mountain tunnels. As the sun started to set we moved on to our hotel and had dinner on the Cusco square. Because of the solstice celebration there were swarms of Peruvians from all over dancing and parading on the square. It made for quite an impression on our last night!
This morning as I pack my bag for the last time, I realize that I am excited to get home and look forward to not having to wear my mittens and ski hat to bed at night, but I also will miss this wonderfully warm culture and hope that we will all bring home many treasured memories.

Until tomorrow!
Miss T

Blog from Sumeet

Greetings from Peru! You will be glad to know that we are returning with all four of the children you entrusted to us. We will spend our last day enjoying the festivities of Cuzco as inti raymi, the sun festival, envelops the city in its celebratory mood. Today will include some shopping, a little dancing, some reflection and a lot of fun. Yesterday we visited Saqsayhuaman, possibly our best sidetrack of our trip, including Macchu Picchu. I regret the fact we never saw the mighty Chinchilla but tomorrow we can use the mighty Google Search to look it up! Tomorrow we will be in contact by phone to coordinate our reunion at Wardlaw Hartridge so stay tuned. I look forward to seeing everyone tomorrow. Pakarinkama! (see you tomorrow!)

Blog from Jack

Yesterday we went to the lost city of Machu Picchu. We had a great guide named Willy and were given a tour of the ruins for about two hours and after that we were able to explore the ruins in groups of three or more. At about one thirty we said good bye to willy and left for Ollantaytambo. We arrived at about three and then visited a cafe for an afternoon meeting. Last night it was very difficult to say good bye to our home-stay families for all of us and we are all going to miss them as we start our journey back to the United States.

Blog from Nick

My trip is going great so far. Even though I was sick, I was just a small obstacle in my way to enjoy and have a great time in Peru. My homestay family can not have been any nicer to Julian, Jack, and I. They provided us with everything we could have needed and they were patient with my very underdeveloped spanish. Also the school in Bandolista is looking great, having painted the walls a bright green color. We also made the children blocks with spanish lettering to help make them learn through fun. Also I tried guinea pig at the lunch celebration, and I really didn't taste like anything. I have been eating well with great Peruvian food, but I am still craving a variety of foods. This trip overall was a great decision and I would love to come back next time.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The walls of Sacsayhuaman

Atop the rock slide at Sacsayhuaman. Ruins and amusement park in one.

Cusco, from the Sacsayhuaman archeological park, a set of ruins that looms over the city. Here the Inca nearly routed the Spanish invaders, but a last minute breakout allowed them to fight another day. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Machu Picchu - WOW!

Wow... Machu Picchu is truly one of The Wonders of the World!

In 1911, Hiram Bingham, a archeologist peofessor at Yale and a relative of Jacks, wanted to find the lost city of the Incas. Many referred to The Lost City as the City of Gold but he was interested in discovering more about the Incan culture and Andean way of life. Logically, he followed the Urubamba river because civilizations historically have formed near a water source. Luckily for his logic and the hospitality of a simple farmer he found Machu Picchu. After a long journey he stayed one night in a small village and asked the man who provided the roof over his head if he knew anything about the lost city. The farmer simply stated, "I don't know about any lost city but I know of Manchu Pichu." The following morning the farmer took Hiram up to Manchu Pichu. Not only had he found a lost Incan city but he also found a two families living there and farming the land.

Although Hiram Bingham is credited with discovering Manchu Pichu, the truth is that many people (French and German) came before him but they were all treasure hunters. The Spaniards never arrived here so the Incan way of life was preserved in comparison to the other Incan cities and because of Hiram's discovery there are many things we do know about Manchu Pichu. From 1912-1915 he escavated the area with help from Yale University finding a number of different artifacts. Unfortunately we still do not know what purpose Machu Picchu served. There are many theories with one being that only the beautiful women lived there and were the virgins of the sun. Or maybe only the nobility lived there. Or maybe it was the starting point of the jungle. Or maybe it was a university. Or maybe it was just another city that was part of the Incan Empire. But, if it was just one more city, possibly it was just the newest city and had all the technology the Incans had acquired making it seem the most imoptant. Maybe, Manchu Pichu was the City of Gold and it was just all plundered before Hiram Bingham arrived? We will never know the truth of Manchu Pichu but one thing is for sure, it is surrounded by mountains on everyside giving you a sense of protection. Possibly it was because today was the winter solstice but it truly has a very spiritual feeling, one that pretty much takes your breath away. So much so that on July 7, 2007, Manchu Pichu was named The 7th Wonder if the World.

Enjoy the pictures and we will see you in a few days!
Miss T

Blog from Brandon and Shafeeq

In the morning, Brandon tamed a wild dog. We went for our last day to Bandolista. We painted blocks and the wall of the school. After work, we had a celebration. We had the celebration to say farewell to our host families and Peru. We had a meeting to discuss our local leaders. Most local leaders were our host moms and dads. They all show compassion, patience, and support. We also discussed the global issues of Peru and how the culture would take getting used to. The next day we went to Machu Picchu. There were a lot of stairs, but it was pretty amazing. The ancient architecture and its position in the mountains made the experience interesting and memorable.

One more...

On the solstice, there would have been a ceremony here.

Machu Picchu

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Awesome thought from Jack, Julian, and Nick

Tonight during our curriculum meeting we discussed Global issues that we are confronted with at home and have discovered here in Peru. Some of the things discussed were that the disparity between the have and the have nots is not so great as compared to at home. Here instead of finding beggars on every corner, the people of Ollanta would rather try to make ends meet by working 4-5 jobs. And, someone even suggested that perhaps the guy with the hotdog cart on the corner in NYC is not so different than the woman pushing us coca leaves when we first stepped off the bus. The togetherness we witnessed of this community and how they look out for one another is a part of what makes this such a special place. I think we may all want to go home and get to know our neighbors a little better. I truly believe that as a group we have learned from our cultural differences and we will all go home with a new appreciation for how the people here make do with what they have but don't believe at all that they are missing out on anything. This is just one way we can continue to bridge the gap and it truly made for a wonderful and thought provoking discussion.

As part of the discussion tonight, the W-H students all had to find and interview a local leader. Jack, Julian, and Nick decided to interview their home stay papa, one of the towns respected Shaman's. During their report to the group they stated the following:

"When we compare how we live to the Peruvians, maybe they would see us as materialistic. Our home stay father says that it is important to be caught up in our families not our possessions and I think we could all learn from him."

I think that is the best quote of the day yet!
Miss T

Our last day up to Bandolista and our Pachamanca Despedida

Today was our last walk up to Bandolista. Although I am sure we will all miss the people - especially the children and our foreman Salvador - I am not so sure we will miss the climb up those stairs!

Our work was focused on finishing up the educational toys we were making as well as sanding and painting the exterior walls. As you can see from the photos, we were all hard at work!

This afternoon we had a good bye party with all of our families and almost all of us tried the guinie pig. As a vegetarian I just had a bite and it really was much better than I thought, but not everyone agreed with me. We also took the time to thank Adela for all she has done for us and truly seeming to appear whenever needed as Mr. O said in his blog. Mr. Webster presented her and her husband Adolfo with a a beautiful ceramic piece made by Eduardo from all of us.

Tomorrow we wake up at the crack of dawn to catch the train to Manchu Pichu. With every site being more beautiful than the last, I can only imagine what tomorrow will hold.

Adios Muchachos!
Miss T