For two months this summer students from the Monterey Institute of International Studies will travel to Peru to carry out development projects with The Becky Fund, a non-profit organization that has worked there since 2003. Under the banner Team Peru, the Monterey Institute students will work closely with rural communities to complete a nutrition and agriculture project in several rural villages near the city of Calca, Peru. Travel dates for the group have been decided, Team Peru will carry out the projects between June 13 and August 13, 2010.
Since their first trip in 2003, the Becky Fund has traveled to Peru annually in order to provide school supplies to some of the most remote and impoverished communities in the country. In 2007 and 2008, Becky Fund representatives took part in projects with a larger scope including a desk building project, the renovation of a school kitchen, and the complete reconstruction and supply of a library. Now, Team Peru of the Monterey Institute will assist the Becky Fund by further expanding the capacity of the organization and the scope of their projects.
Students participating on the nutrition and agriculture project will collaborate with several organizations and government offices in the region. The project itself consists of two related aspects, both of which seek to benefit the children of the communities in which we will work. First, working with Peru’s Ministry of Agriculture, and community leaders, Monterey Institute students will organize and facilitate the construction of greenhouses at three schools in the rural villages of Poques, Choquecancha, and Pampacorral. This part of the project will test the planning and organizational capacity of the students as they must bring together the materials, transportation, and labor to build greenhouses based on the rural technology that has been tested and developed by the non-profit Institute for Alternative Agriculture. Once completed, the greenhouses will produce fruits and vegetables that will be used to supplement the nutritional content of school lunches.
The second component to the nutrition and agriculture project is the development of a curriculum which will be implemented in the schools at which the greenhouses are built. Our team will utilize the expertise of Educa, an educational non-profit comprised of former teachers, to create a program which will teach the children about nutrition and basic wellness, how to maintain the greenhouses, and how to harvest the crops. The curriculum is based on a practical pedagogy that harnesses the strengths of hands-on learning, which is quite different from the traditional Peruvian educational philosophy. Fortunately, school directors have the autonomy to modify the established curriculum and following meetings in January, they have already consented to the introduction of the nutrition and health based curriculum in their schools. Monterey Institute students will be working in conjunction with Educa and the school directors at each step, ensuring successful adaptation and implementation of the educational portion of the project.
To conclude the project, students will collaborate to draft an outcomes report that will document and discuss the objectives and findings of the trip and the status of the projects. The reporting will require students to commit significant time and effort beyond the two months in Peru needed to complete the projects. A detailed account of the projects will be an integral part of our organization’s future and the sustainability of the projects. First, the report provides a medium for participant reflection and learning both now, and in the coming years. Second, the report offers important data to all stakeholders associated with the projects. Finally, the report will help determine a baseline for continued monitoring and evaluation of the projects for Team Peru and our in-country affiliates. Through this process of data collection, separation, analysis, and synthesis, Monterey Institute students will improve their writing and communicating abilities while benefitting from working in a team-oriented environment.
Students participating with Team Peru will find their Spanish language abilities challenged in multiple settings, both formal and informal. All of our in-country affiliates operate primarily in Spanish. In many cases, however, the Peruvian citizens with whom we will work speak the native language of Quechua. Team Peru has pre-arranged the services of Quechua to Spanish translators, but to ensure accurate communication in all circumstances, two Monterey Institute Translation and Interpretation students will assist with any necessary Spanish to English translation.
Team Peru will also provide its outcome reports in English and Spanish. Students will work with our Translation and Interpretation assistants as well as our faculty advisor Pablo Oliva to complete this task in the months immediately following the trip.
Over their two month stay, participants will be living and working near Calca, a city removed from the popular tourist path of Peru’s Sacred Valley. Daily interactions such as grocery shopping and traveling will take place in Spanish and therefore, students must be prepared with an advanced level of colloquial Spanish proficiency. During the trip, participants will be in contact with many longtime friends of the Becky Fund that live and work in Peru. Though informal, building and maintaining these relationships in Spanish is important for the longevity of our work in Peru.
The region in which we will be carrying out the projects is known as the Sacred Valley of the Incas. The area provides a rich cultural experience for all who visit and is home to the famous ancient city of Machu Picchu. It is among the most popular tourist destinations in the world. During their downtime, Monterey Institute students will have the opportunity to visit many important cultural and historical sites. Excursions including museum visits, day trips to Incan ruins, and hikes on old Incan roads are just some of the planned activities for Team Peru participants.
While working in this region, Monterey Institute students will spend significant time living with citizens in some of the most remote communities in the world. They will experience the daily life of rural Peruvians as it has existed for centuries. Also during the trip, the city of Calca will host numerous cultural events culminating with the Fiesta de la Virgen Asunta in August. Team Peru members will be encouraged to participate in events such as these to engage the community and receive cultural education through a deeper connection to Peru and its people.
Team Peru has recently hosted two local fundraisers in the Monterey, CA. The first brought together Monterey Institute students at El Torito restaurant during which 10% of food purchases were donated to our organization. In March, we partnered with the local chapter of Rotary International to host the event "Me, You, and Peru." The evening included live entertainment from a traditional Peruvian band, a presentation explaining our projects, several raffle giveaways, and a silent auction. Thank you to all those who attended and contributed through these events. We were able to raise more than $1,000 but remain well short of our goal. We welcome and appreciate all donations, your continued support will help ensure the realization of our mission and objectives. Thank you again.
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