As my time at Indiana University nears its end, I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to have studied abroad in Peru for two weeks through a course offered by OVPDEMA. Coming from a low-income household, I could not imagine having the chance to expand my worldwide view during my undergraduate years, but thanks to OVPDEMA and the Hutton Honors College, I was able to explore a new country and make memories that will last a lifetime.
During my time abroad, I participated in workshops relating to the topics we discussed and read about during the second 8 weeks of the spring semester. From watching Afro-Peruvians perform traditional dances and songs to learning how to create tapestries with natural resources from Amazonian women, every day was a new adventure filled with numerous learning opportunities. The workshops provided tangible, hands-on learning that visually connected the course objectives and knowledge accumulated throughout our prior discussions and readings. In short, my experience entailed gaining a deeper understanding of Peru’s socio-cultural history, challenges associated with heritage, different lifestyles and livelihood of Peruvians, and ultimately an expansion in my global perspective.
Despite the communication barrier and unfamiliarity in a new environment, I soon became acquainted with the unknown and was eager for each day to begin. Whether we were travelling in a van for 10 hours or marveling the craftsmanship of handmade, artistic pieces at the local markets or trying new cuisines, there was so much to see and even more to learn beyond the workshops. One of my favorite memories from the trip include our visit to the local markets, which sold a variety of items such as alpaca rugs, baby alpaca scarves and blankets, replicas of Peruvian soccer jerseys, and more. As a business student, I was surprised to see the high-level competitiveness between each stand as many of them sold similar items. When I saw tapestries with similar Amazonian designs that we had learned about during one of our workshops, I was immediately furious because the merchant was not providing credit to the actual artists and was only selling the items for profit. Knowing that the Shipibo-Conibo Urban Community (home of the Amazonian women artists) has struggled with being recognized and respected, I was enraged to see someone else copying their art technique Through this, I realized I should be more aware of where products are created and the impact
Moving forward, I will continue to cherish my first visit to Peru from the delicious tacu-tacu (fried beans and rice) to the breathtaking views of the mountains and collage of architecture. My time abroad has opened my eyes to privileges I have overlooked for years.