When day breaks on January 1, 2019, a group of Auburn students will be waking up in the hidden city of Machu Picchu. Their journey across Peru is a new winter break study abroad program offered as a partnership between the College of Sciences and Mathematics and the College of Human Sciences’ Office of Global Education.
Academic Programs Administrator Megan Elliott said the two-week program, which runs from December 27 through January 6, will hit several major landmarks in a short timeline across Peru’s diverse geographical landscape.
“The students will visit the coast, the Andes Mountains and then the rainforest as well. To be able to experience a country that has all those different elements in one very concentrated area, we thought that would make a lot of sense for our students along with the timing of the trip over winter break,” Elliott said. “For some students, taking a summer or regular semester study abroad is difficult and so it’s nice timing, really, for a lot of our students.”
A few days after Christmas, the group will travel to Lima, where they’ll see the Government Palace, Archbishop’s Palace, City Hall and the Cathedral of Lima on a guided tour. They’ll also visit the Larco Museum and San Francisco Monastery before taking a walking tour of Miraflores and attending a ceviche cooking class.
From there, the group will fly to Cuzco and tour the Korikancha Temple before travelling to the Sacred Valley, where they’ll enjoy a Peruvian weaving demonstration, visit the Maras salt ponds and tour Ollantaytambo with a local guide.
Kyle Kostelecky, the Human Development and Family Studies professor leading the program, said throughout the study tour, students will be encouraged to make connections with locals in the communities they’re visiting.
“There’s so much that makes us global citizens and students in particular are just that,” Kostelecky said. “A trip like this, a cultural immersion trip… helps them understand that families thrive in multiple different contexts.”
About halfway through the program, the class will travel by train to Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu, to tour the hidden city nestled high among the Andes Mountains.
The following day, a train will take the group to Ollantaytambo and Pisac. They’ll visit the Pablo Seminario, the Indian market in Pisac and the Sacsayhuaman Fortress before enjoying dinner in Cuzco. Then, using a buddy system, students will have the chance to explore Cuzco on their own.
Kostelecky said every interaction with the locality will hopefully lead to an important lesson that will guide the students in their work with families in the future.
“There are multiple perspectives on how to solve problems, how to care for people and how to be in relationships with others,” Kostelecky said. “And when students can understand that and see that, it helps them appreciate ways that families can be served, educated, taken care of, encourage how we develop in a way that allows for maximum potential growth.”
For many students, this will be their first encounter with South American culture, including Meredith Bryant, a junior in Global Studies with a minor in Hunger Studies. She’s looking forward to applying what she’s learned in the classroom.
“We so often talk about different cultures in our classes and courses, and when researching about Peru, the fact that it’s pretty multi-faceted as far as cultures,” Bryant said. “That was really interesting and I think I would be able to experience a lot of these different cultures in this program, as we’re able to travel to different cities.”
The final days of the program will be spent in the Amazon Rainforest. Students will board a plane to Puerto Maldonado, where they’ll participate in an evening wildlife viewing and visit local markets. The program also offers several opportunities for culturally-immersive, nature-oriented activities in the rainforest, such as a morning jungle hike, an early-morning boat ride, a visit to a botanical garden and an ethnobotanical garden walk.
Bryant said she hopes by the time she comes back, her worldview is wider than when she left.
“When you go into a new place, you become more culturally aware of who the people are and it makes you more self-aware of who you are,” Bryant said. “And I think that helps with not being as narrow-minded as I approach future careers.”
The Peru program is one of several abroad opportunities offered by the Office of Global Education. For more information, visit aub.ie/chsglobal .