Monday, March 2, 2015

Heading Home!

Hello family and friends of the Epiphany School of Global Studies program in Peru! The students are leaving Cusco in an hour and making their way to Lima. Currently all flights are on time and students should be back in Raleigh at 11:47am tomorrow morning.  

LA2064H 02MAR MO CUZLIM HK6   555P  720P

AA7265Q 03MAR TU LIMMIA HK6   105A  650A/

AA1266O 03MAR TU MIARDU HK6   935A 1147A

Thank you for your support of this program. Please call WLS with any questions - 303-679-3412. 

Erin Hawk 
Director of Operations

The Final Countdown

The Final Countdown

By Harrison Cho

I would love to start off by apologizing to Ms. Miller for typing this. Things will inevitably be censored for their content or completely omitted. I apologize I apologize I apologize. Please enjoy.
Cusco in the foreground, Miles Davis in the background. What a good night it has been thus far. I don’t consider myself a pensive person, nor a cathartic person at that, but for the next few moments of your time I will try and wow you with just these characteristics. If you haven’t been monitoring your children lately, then you would be surprised to find out that they are in Peru. Don’t pack those bags and rent your clothing in sadness yet though, you’re in luck. It’s is our last day here in this wonderful country.
Your student may tell you of the exhilarating experiences of running up mountains, speaking into the porcelain telephone, or communicating with the many people that we met in our adventure, but I can guarantee they will not tell you of the inner change that he or she may have made. I will try and relate this to you as best as I can. Internal change beings with the external, as counterintuitive as that may appear. Unwanted Body hair, the lack of bathing or basic oral hygiene, and common trips to the bathroom are the impetus for this change. Fortitude of the body leads to fortitude of the mind: “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” - Frederich Nietzsche. This quote is a simple summation of what has gone on in the past week externally. Through sickness, dehydration, the cold, and the impressive language barrier we have become stronger in body. I digress though.
Though the external change was unwarranted in every single way, shape, and form, it was all for the better. While confined to a sick bed for two days, it gave me more than enough time to be the solipsistic individual that I thought was nonexistent. “What am I doing with my life,” I thought to myself as I furiously coughed. “What really makes me a happy person,” I pondered as I lay in bed dehydrated. While I was alone for two days, Peru gave each of us enough time to consider what we would be doing for the immediate future. While I may have had a few moments more to consider what I thought about life and existence as a whole, you should be confident in knowing there is a changed individual returning to the United States.
We are not the smartest people to ever live nor the most insightful. We are not the strongest nor the fastest. We are not the happiest nor the most gracious. Instead, we are human beings who are trying to progress to these states of being. We are teenagers ready to take on the world, solve its problems, and evaluate its state of being. We may not tell you how we have changed. We may feel afraid. We may not want to divulge any information at all to be quite honest. (I’ll try my best to tell you everything ma.) We have changed though. We have come back with individual goals that challenge our comfort zone. We are happy to be coming back.

To be honest I don’t really know what else to say to give a final summation. We are sitting in the lobby of our inn ready to depart for burgers, Walmart, and easily obtainable firearms. I’m ready to be back. We are ready.

We will miss Peru.

To end this, I’ll type the lyrics to a famous song that some of you might know.

“We’re leaving together
 But still it’s farewell
 And maybe we’ll come back
 To Earth, who can tell?
 I guess there is no one to blame
 We’re leaving ground
 Will things ever be the same again?
 It’s the final countdown”

Adios Peru. It has been both the best of times and the worst of times. We will see you in a day’s time patient parents. (Mom please don’t forget me at the airport.)

Friday, February 27, 2015

What More Can We Say?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Our work here is finished....Almost

What an amazing day in the field!

Today the students completed their last day working with the NGOs in the field. Students working with Awa Maki went to a Qechua village in the mountains and met the local women who spin, weave and create the products sold in Ollyantaytambo and internationally. Students were taught how to make bracelets using local techniques and quickly realized it was a very difficult skill to learn.

Students working with Ayani Wasi went to the Soccma village and led two health campaigns for the local Qechua people. Students discussed the importance of the proper technique of teeth brushing and hand washing. After, students hiked to a beautiful waterfall and had a picnic lunch.

As the day closed, students were debriefed about our big day at Machu Picchu tomorrow. Students then played a quick game of soccer before returning for the evening to their homestays.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Amazing Race

On your mark, get set, GO!
After working with their NGOs this morning students participated in Ollaytantambo’s Amazing Race!  There were five stations of fantastic fun! 

Power to the People: Economic Empowerment for Women

Like the famous John Lennon sung, “She got to be herself so she can free herself,” women working in Awamaki liberate themselves through economic stability. With little or no education, these women provide another paycheck by an alternative path (from a Western perspective), using cultural traditions they learned as niƱas. As the knitters, weavers, spinners, and homestay families continue to lift themselves out of poverty, their lives and their families’ lives change dramatically. Traditionally, the men of the household work as porters along the Inca Trail. Receiving payment as porters is typically unreliable, and the men are working away from home for most of the year. Because of this, the family sacrifices either education for the children, sanitary bathroom facilities, or other necessities from a Western view. Women in Awamaki receive more economic opportunities, resulting in increasing access to health and education for them and their families. Their children will attend school in Urubamba or Cusco; their diets will contain more variety; and their homes will be improved.

 (Photo from

If you teach a woman skill workshops, she will be empowered.
by Liz Fieschko

The Dogs of Ollantaytambo

Ollantaytambo is at heart, despite all of the tourists, a small town of 2,000 people. Because of this small setting, everybody knows the dogs that are around town. Many of them live solely off of the tourists’ charity and what edible trash they can find on the streets. Despite this, they are some of the happiest dogs I have ever seen. The carefree nature of the dogs is reminiscent of the laid back community of Ollantaytambo. The best of these dogs is Jack.

Jack is a medium sized, black and white dog who is between 13 and 14 yeas old. Jack is not owned by any person, but is cared for by all of the NGOs in Ollantaytambo. Jack has been poisoned twice, had a stroke, and has even been left a two days walk from town.  When we went to the Incan ruins on the Pinkallnua Apu (Mountain) in town, Jack followed us, sometimes leading, the hour hike up and the 15 minute hike down.


Another much younger dog named Inti, the Quechuan word for “the sun,” followed us up as well. When one goes into town to get something, they will always find Inti somewhere. One of the most interesting dogs in Ollantaytambo is a 3 legged dog I’ve named tripod. Tripod is missing his front left paw, yet he’s one of the most energetic dogs in Ollantaytambo. The dogs in town help create a unique Ollantaytambo experience.

by Hayden Baer

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Two Roads…

Today students split off into groups based on the NGO they chose to shadow for three days.  One group went with Ayni Wasi to Soccma, a pueblo about an hour into the mountains. There they followed a promotora as she made house visits in the community. 

The other group met with leaders at Awamaki to discuss models of international aid and how their organization works to tackle poverty.  Students learned how each division of the weaving cooperative contributes to the products that are sold.  They visited a building project for a group of weavers near Ollaytantambo. 

In the afternoon students learned how to basket weave!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Incan Ruins in the Heart of Ollantaytambo

This morning the students toured the Incan ruins in town.  These ruins, dated in the 16th century, were built just before the Spaniards arrived.  Though the reason is unknown, the temples here were not completed.  There is even evidence that the Spaniards defaced the temple. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Climbing to New Heights

This morning the group hiked up the side of a mountain called Pynkulluna.  In the afternoon students listened to a local leader talk about work to preserve the Quechua language.  Students learned about the duality that exist in Incan culture and the conflicts that arise when trying to merge Incan and modern culture. 

After the talk, students headed out into the town to celebrate Carnival.  There is a tradition in Ollaytantambo where children throw water on each other in the streets.  A few brave students suited up to join the fun.  Others ran for their lives when a group of 8 year olds eagerly welcomed them into the activities. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Un Dia Magico

 After banana pancakes topped with honey, we began our team building activities outside of our hostel. Students then embarked on a scavenger hunt in Oyalltaytambo!  Students used their cameras to take creative photos of prominent sites around town.  They also had to use their Spanish skills to learn cultural facts about the community.

Students spent the afternoon with their homestay families and then returned to the hostel after dinner for our evening reflection and a despacho ceremony with a shaman.  

Of course the day would not be complete without celebrating David’s 17th Birthday!  Happy Birthday, David!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Getting in the Groove

Two days of transportation can do this to you...The crew is in great spirits though!

After settling in at the hotel, we break into groups to establish norms, address concerns and create goals. 

Randall and Adela are our fantastic leaders from World Leadership School.

On our first night in Ollatnaytambo, we enjoy a night out on the town.

In Cusco!

The group has arrived in Cusco and are headed to Ollantaytambo. They will grab lunch in the Sacred Valley before continuing their journey. The blog will be updated by the students and faulty starting tomorrow. Please call WLS 303-679-3412 with any questions! 

Erin Hawk
Director of Operations

In Lima

The students arrived in Lima late last night. They spent the night at a family run bed and breakfast and will head to Cusco today. 

Erin Hawk
Director of Operations 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

And We're Off!

Bright beautiful faces on a beautiful day!