Ryan Chartrand

A new program on campus is giving students the opportunity to spend five weeks in Peru over the summer to learn about the many aspects of Latin American culture while participating in several community-based projects.

The Peru Summer Study Program, headed by geography professor James Keese and political science professor Craig Arceneaux, is a quarter-long program that will give students the opportunity to “learn about Latin American culture, economy, politics, development and ecology,” Keese said.

Both Keese and Arceneaux met with students on Oct. 26 to discuss the features of the new program that includes excursions to famous Peruvian locations such as Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca and the Amazon Rainforest.

“The meeting had a pretty good turn-out,” Keese said. “We had over 23 students come in and 11 said that they were going.”

Though field trips to exotic locations are an integral part of the trip, the program will also allow students to participate in many different projects.

“The Peru Study Program is more than just a tourist venture and will also include cooperative work with many communities and organizations,” director of pacific programs Richard LeRoy said.

One of the key organizations that the study program is partnering with is ProPeru, “a student service program that provides individuals and groups with unique and challenging cross-cultural experiences,” according to www.properu.org.

From June 23 to July 28, students who are eligible for the program will live in Cuzco, Peru, while obtaining 12 units of academic credit that includes four units of extensive Spanish and two general education courses addressing issues related to Peruvian and Latin American culture and society. The general education courses will be taught in English by Cal Poly faculty, LeRoy said.

The program also provides students with the opportunity to live with Peruvian host families, allowing for intensive development of cross-cultural skills, impromptu language development and the chance to study another culture as a participant observer.

Though the program will include several tourist trips to extravagant sites and cities around Peru, the program has a stronger emphasis on providing students with the opportunity to absorb the culture while participating in many hands-on projects.

“What makes this program so special is that it is not simply a sightseeing or tourist trip, but more of an opportunity for students to get some real, hands-on experience with another culture by participating in several community-based projects,” LeRoy said.

The program includes several physical and community oriented projects such as organizing sports programs in local communities, designing and constructing irrigation canals, building and modernizing small schools, and reforestation of the Amazon Rainforest-an extension of Cal Poly’s “Learn by Doing” philosophy.

Students of all majors with a grade point average of at least 2.5 are eligible to participate. According to the program’s Web site, student selection will be based on GPA, personal interviews, faculty references, and an application essay.

“We’re looking for students who have strong intentions to learn the culture in addition to an open and adaptive mind; culturally sensitive and mature,” LeRoy said.

For further information about excursions, projects, fees, applications and eligibility, the Peru Summer Study Program will host another meeting on Nov. 30 in the Mathematics and Science building in room 219 from 11 a.m. to noon or check out the Web site at www.perustudy.calpoly.edu.

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