By Katie Lau | August 1, 2022

Volunteer Spotlight: Simon

Simon is a Norwegian student with an interest in Quechua culture. This article was written in his own words.

I am a Norwegian student from Oslo, currently writing my bachelor thesis in Development Studies at the University of Oslo. My thesis concerns: Exploring and identifying essential factors to Peruvian students of Quechua Origin identification with, or resistance to the Quechua culture

I originally contacted the Norwegian embassy in Chile (with a department in Peru), they pointed me toward contacting NGOs in Peru. From there on I got acquainted with Quechua Benefit, and the possibility to volunteer as an English teacher at Casa Chapi. I sent an email asking if it would be possible for me to volunteer, and on the side conduct some interviews with the teachers and older students concerning bilingual education. Dale Cantwell made me aware that due to Covid the start up for the 2022 school semester in Peru had been delayed, and would not fit into my schedule.

Nevertheless, Dale put me in contact with freelance photographer Robert Els, and his girlfriend, architect Maria Belen Juares Del Carpio, who both were invaluable help to me while conducting interviews in Arequipa and Canon del Colca.

They shared their local knowledge with me, guided me, translated during the interviews, and became good friends. Dale also put me in contact with his good friend, and close associate of Quechua Benefit, Kathe Torres, who put me in contact with her boyfriend, Abel Santander, who also become a good friend. Abel helped me out in Cusco and The Sacred Valley.

After staying for about 5 weeks in Peru I am left with the impression that my experiences, and learnings from the Andean highland of Peru would need the scope of several books if it were to be put in words. In short, I would describe my experience there as beautiful, fun, intense and with unexpected events happening all the time. I got to see the differences between urban places like Lima, Arequipa, and Cusco in contrast with Canon del Colca, and The Sacred Valley. I met warm and welcoming people of Quechua origin who gave me insight into their way of looking at the world, which left me humbled, and inspired. I believe the world would likely be a better place if this worldview was shared amongst more people.

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