While most students are in the middle of summer vacation, lounging by the pool, four students and two faculty members from Texas A&M University-Kingsville (TAMUK) immersed themselves in the culture of Peru as part of a study abroad program.
“Dr. [Manuel] Flores [Department of Arts, Communications and Theatre chair] and I coordinated our efforts to construct a program that would explore communication/media and Spanish journalism, television, radio, film and book publication in Peru,” Marco Iniguez, lecturer in Spanish, said.
The study abroad trip was a combined course for Professional Spanish, taught by Iniguez and Hispanics in Film, taught by Flores.
The students spent two weeks, Aug. 1-14, in Peru, visiting various places from Lima, the capitol city, to Cusco, the imperial city of the Incas.
“I believe that we were able to see what travelers interested in the hearts and minds of Peruvians would have seen and experienced,” Iniguez said.
Jazmin Alvarado and Michael Miller were among the four students who participated in the program.
“I went to Peru because I knew that it would be an amazing opportunity to grow mentally, academically, professionally, and even spiritually,” Miller said.
Unlike Miller, who jumped at the chance to study abroad, Alvarado was convinced to go by her professors.
“Dr. Flores and Sr. Iniguez convinced me to do study abroad so it can open new horizons to my degree,” Alvarado said. “Also, learning how telecommunications work internationally gave me a new perspective on how each country works for the media.”
While in Peru, the class visited squatter communities, such as Villa Maria del Triunfo and Villa El Salvador where radio and television stations have been created.
“[We] discovered how efforts of self determination created Radio Estereo Villa 107.1 FM and Channel 45 Villa TV to inform their communities,” Iniguez said. “We were all interviewed for the television station broadcast on ‘Noveades en la Comunidad de Villa El Salvador.’”
The group also visited an elementary school in Villa Maria that their guide Ivan Balvin owned.
“[The students] were amazing as they were demonstrating their native dances and singing for us,” Alvarado said.
Aside from visiting various museums, archeological sites, and dining on local cuisine such as guinea pie and alpaca, the group visited Machu Picchu, the ancient Inca site in Agua Calientes.
“We were very fortunate to have had a Shaman perform a tribute offering to Pachamama (mother nature) with the Javelinas in Peru before ascending Machu Picchu. The ceremony was unique and emotional,” Iniguez said. “We were ready to travel up the mountain by bus at six in the morning in order to see the sun rise in the Andes, truly the most spectacular panoramic view imaginable.”
For Iniguez, this study abroad trip was about seeing the determination of the Peruvians.
“We experienced the ways people, who do not wait for handouts, mobilize to express themselves through hard work, determination, and with dignity,” Iniguez said.
Alvarado said she recommends study abroad for students because of the opportunities it opens
up and it’s a chance to be exposed to a new culture.
Miller felt similar about his experience.
“I have gained an experience in a foreign country that amounts to much more than simply learning their language,” Miller said.