By Katie Lau | August 1, 2022

Volunteer Spotlight: Simon

Simon is a Norwegian student with an interest in Quechua culture. He documents his experiences and findings here.

Simon

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 Peruvians of Quechua origin and their identity with or resistance to the Quechua culture.

Peruvians of Quechua origin either reject or uphold their Quechua identity. The main findings in this study demonstrate that cultural identity issues continue to persist, and are often inter-woven in complex structures affected by social, cultural and economic factors.

One of the most interesting findings is that gender should not be seen as an isolated factor but in conjunction with social mobility and rural-urban environments where males are less willing to uphold their cultural Quechua identity and females limitations in social mobility.

A female from Maca emphasized how connected she and the Maca community are with the preservation of their cultural identity by addressing the importance of wearing traditional clothes and arranging competitions rewarding young Peruvians who perform in their native Quechua language. In contrast, her male cousin visiting from Arequipa expressed his dislike for the sound of the Quechua language and his lack of association with its culture.

Among the main observations is that tourism may potentially function as a pull factor, helping communities to resist cultural degradation by providing possible economic gains through the preservation of traditions and language.

Religious differences also arose during interviews (Catholicism versus Andean spiritualism). These variances are worth further investigation regarding the manner in which they influence Peruvians of Quechua origin to reject or uphold their Quechua identity.

In short, my findings involved social mobility, gender, rural vs. urban residence, economic empowerment, tourism, hybridization of Quechua, and intellectual bilingual educational policy (IBE).

My Journey in Peru

I reached out to Quechua Benefit for the possibility of volunteering as an English teacher at Casa Chapi.

Dale, Quechua Benefit’s Executive Director, connected me with long time Quechua Benefit supporters Robert Els, Maria Belen Juares Del Carpio, Kathe Torres and Abel Santander. They were a huge help to me while conducting interviews in Arequipa, Canon del Colca, Cusco and The Sacred Valley.

The warm and welcoming people of Quechua origin 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 their worldview was shared with more people.


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