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College of Education and Human Development at The University of Texas at San Antonio Online Magazine

Discovering Peru

Discovering Peru

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn‘t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
– Mark Twain

This past summer, a group of College of Education and Human Development students had the chance to explore, dream, and discover just as Twain suggested when they took part in a faculty-led study abroad trip to Peru. Drs. Peter Sayer and Lilliana Saldaña, assistant professors in the Department of Bicultural-Bilingual Studies, led 13 undergraduate and graduate students on the five-week trip that was funded through a Fullbright-Hays

“Now that we have the experience of writing a successful Fulbright grant and doing a successful trip, hopefully we‘ll get to do something like this again,” said Sayer. “That is the great thing about the Fullbright: it gives you opportunity to do things that you would never get the ”

The 2013 Peru trip gave the students a chance to explore historical sites in the country, learn about the Peruvian culture, take language classes in either Spanish or Quechua, an indigenous South American language,

“We learned to be creative and flexible, we had this thing that we thought we were going to do when we entered the schools in Peru,” said Sayer. “We prepared lessons plans here in the states, and then to actually get in the classroom and get in sync with Peruvian teachers; it was interesting. The theme of our trip was interculturality, so you had to be able to see where the other person was coming from and see what the students were able to ”

The University of Texas at San Antonio group was hosted by a local Peruvian University, Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola, and the students had the opportunity to live with local, Peruvian families in home stays. The travelers spent their first two weeks working in the K-12 setting, teaching English to school children in conjunction

“I love kids, and I really got the chance to interact with the kids and teenagers in the schools where we were teaching,” said Magdalena Yznaga, a Master‘s student in bilingual education who hopes to teach at the university level when she graduates. “I enjoyed the teaching experiences, even though I don‘t see myself as an elementary or ”

After the two weeks of teaching English in schools in Cuzco, Peru, the group had the chance to travel to bilingual and bi-cultural schools outside of the city, as well as visit a variety of historical sites, including Machu Picchu.

“Hiking at ancient sites blew me away,” said Sonya Rose Hernandez, a Mexican American Studies major with a concentration Literary and Cultural Studies. “I have never listened to the wind so closely, stared at the clouds so intently and definitely felt so close to mother nature or ’pachamama‘ as they say in Peru. I kept imagining what it was like for those ancient societies living in those areas and could almost feel their spirits lingering. It was truly breathtaking.”

Kristina Marshall, an Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching undergrad, said that she would recommend that other students study abroad because the experience was worth the extra effort.

“My world is forever changed,” Marshall said. “Seeing the teachers and students in Peru and their struggles gives me a new perspective on how wonderful my life truly is; this new found gratitude will follow me through my studies and my career.”

Marshall said that during her time in Peru she learned more about herself and the world than in all her years of formal education.

“I discovered a strength in myself that I previously was unaware of and for the first time I honestly believed I could do anything I set my mind to,” she said. “I can honestly say now that I had the time of my life in Peru and would gladly do it all again.”

To learn more about study abroad opportunities at UTSA, visit utsa.edu/studyabroad

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