Friday, July 11, 2014

Friday, July 11

Our day started with a delicious breakfast at our hotel, Casa Andina.  We then visited one of the oldest school in the country of Peru, Colegio Nacional de Ciencias.  The school is located in the historical center of Cusco and dates back to colonial times, originally created in 1619, and re-founded as Cilegio Nacional de Ciencias by Simón Bolívar in 1825.  We visited with Mr. Renan Quispe, Principal, and six other members of his administrative staff.  The staff explained the three levels of the school: primary, secondary, and an alternative primary education for working students to complete their education.  We quickly learned that one of the main objectives of the school was to keep strong contact with the community.  The school leaders described a ritual centered on skills, strength, and community called Warachikuy in which eighteen year olds expressed cultural traditions and the physical, intellectual, and artistic skills necessary to lead people in this coming of age test. 

After our discussions, we toured the school, visiting students in their last year of the secondary level and awaiting graduation in December.  We visited a science lab, history classroom filled with artifacts from pre-Inca civilization, and the music room.  We observed students at play during recess and in preparation for a formal mass being held in honor of three faculty members who were struggling with medical conditions.  We were saddened by the lack of resources in this school – limited and outdated books; lack of basic supplies such as paper, pencils, and chalk; broken and dilapidated desks; and dusty hallways.  Yet, we were awestruck by the passion and determination of the educators within who worked tirelessly to provide an education and opportunity for a better life for their students.
After lunch at Inka Grill, we toured Qorikancha, Covento de Santo Domingo Del Cusco.  Qorikancha is a site of Inca ruins.  The Spanish invaded and destroyed the Incan temple, Temple of the Sun.  As added humiliation, the Spanish constructed their own sanctuary, Santo Domingo, in its place.  The site contains some of the original Incan archeology, amazing stone structures, with each stone placed perfectly without the need for plaster in between the stones.  The grounds were beautiful!
Our group took time to pause and reflect on what has been a whirlwind eight days and discuss some of the emerging themes we have been seeing with regard to education and their application to the U.S. context.  Each member of our group led ten minute discussions on topics that included technology implementation, exploration of public and appropriate education, disparities among subgroups, assessment and accountability, special education, inequality and quality, and informal and formal systems of the economy.
We rounded out our day with a fabulous dinner at Incanto and are all shortly headed to bed.  We have an early day tomorrow, beginning at 5:00am as we trek to Machu Picchu, one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world!
        --Sarah Hitchings 

At Cusco's Main Square, the day after we arrived: Dr. Pentecost, Cabrina, and Ashley.
Right before our meeting at the Colegio Nacional de Ciencias: Deborah, Ashley, Carla, Stephanie, Dr. Jean-Marie, Cabrina, Sarah, LaRhondolyn, Dr. Pentecost, and Meredith.

Visiting the school, with principal Renán Quispe (second from right), as well as the secondary section director.
Interior patio at Colegio Nacional de Ciencias.

Cabrina in the library section with books dating back to the mid 1600s.

Colegio Nacional de Ciencias students with the U of L hand symbol, with Carla, Dr. Jean-Marie, Meredith, and LaRhondolyn.

Meredith, Carla and Sarah at the main entrance of the Qoricancha and Iglesia de Santo Domingo, posing with peasant women in traditional dress and their baby llamas and lambs.

Carla in the original Inca section of the Iglesia Santo Domingo, which can be seen in the background.
Patio of the Iglesia de Santo Domingo.
Dr. Aliaga in front of Qoricancha. This picture shows how the Spanish structure of the Iglesia de Santo Domingo was built on top of the Inka Temple of the Sun or Qoricancha.
A panoramic view of Cusco main square (Plaza de Armas), with the Cathedral in front, and the church of the Society of Jesus to the right.
Night view of Cusco main square.
A view of the church of the Society of Jesus, and Cusco streets an plaza.

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