As a freshman, I was able to have my first study abroad experience in Peru. I would not have been able to do so without OVPDEMA. I was so excited to visit a country of Latin America and see the differences between Peru and my country, Mexico. Everything about this country was incredible, despite the fact that I had a cold for the entire time. The trip lasted two weeks. The first week the group visited various parts of Peru including El Carmen, Vilca, and Huancaya. The last week was spent in Lima. Although we spent about a day in each city, I learned so much about culture and heritage in each location through our workshops.
Each workshop allowed the group to have a better understanding of the cultural practices of each group we spent the day with. We learned how to perform traditional dances of Afro-Peruvians from El Carmen, learn recipes for candy and sweets, and experience real culture for ourselves. As we continued traveling towards the south of Peru, we reached the highlands. Here we saw waterfalls, mountains, and just nature at its finest. Before this, we were in Laraos and experienced the life of a traditional Peruvian. I wore a traditional skirt and hat with a brightly colored shawl over everything in preparation for gardening. The process of planting for this small town was something sacred and truly an honor to be apart of. Unfortunately, we did have to come down from the mountains, roughly about 11,000 feet, and head back to the capital, Lima. Our workshops did not end there. We went to a university in Lima and had more workshops centered around the culture on the coast in the form of street art, coastal dances and music, even one about playing traditional pan pipes. I learned so much about the country in just two weeks.
As a Latina in the United States, I have always known that my Latin background was diverse and beautiful already but traveling to Peru and experiencing their version of Latin culture was incredible. Latin America is the result of mestizaje, a mix of races and cultures. I saw European, African, and indigenous influences fused into Peru. I deepened my understanding of heritage and how the people applied their own heritage and culture to their environments. This trip was enlightening and a humbling experience. Thanks to Indiana University and my scholarship programs, 21st Century Scholars, Hudson and Holland, Groups, and OVPDEMA, for giving me the opportunity to study abroad and broaden my understanding of our world and all its cultures.