Volunteer Spotlight: Simon

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


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.

A Poem by Fortunato Ramos, Children’s Village Casa Chapi, Second Grade Elementary

My smile is dry and my face is serious, my broad shoulders, my hard muscles, and my hands are broken by the raw cold. I’m only eight years old, but I’m not a child.

Behind my alpacas I walk the mountain, carry my firewood down to my hut to blow the fire to make my rope, AND I DON’T HAVE TIME TO BE A KID.

The years go by and everything is the same. Dried beans with jerky, are my candies, my toy is the sheepdog, I have little time, BUT I AM NOT A CHILD.

My friend and truck is a very slow jogging donkey,
The fox steals my sheep, and I am not able to be a child.

My face is that of an old man and my walk is that of a grandfather, my calluses broken by stones from the hill, my poncho torn by the strong wind, And this tells me that I am not a child.

And there are no wise men? Aren’t there children’s days? I never had the luck to be a child!

Mi sonrisa es seca y mi rostro es serio, mis espaldas anchas, mis músculos duros, mis manos partidas por el crudo frio. Solo ocho años tengo, pero no soy un niño.

Detrás de mis alpacas ando por el cerro. Y carga´u mi leña bajo hasta mi choza, a soplar el fuego a mismiar mi soga, Y NO TENGO TIEMPO PARA SER UN NIÑO.

Los años caminan y todo es lo mismo, moti, sal con charqui son mis caramelos, mi juguete es el perro ovejero, poco tiempo tengo, PERO NO SOY UN NIÑO.

Mi avión de juguete es un pájaro viego, mi camión es un burro de trotar muy lento, mi amigo, es el zorro que roba mis ovejas, y es todo mi consuelo de poder ser un niño.

Mi rostro es de viejo y mi andar de abuelo, mis callos partidos por piedras del cerro, mi poncho rotoso por el fuerte viento. Todo eso me dice, que no soy un niño.

¿Y no hay reyes magos? ¿No hay días del niño? ¡Jamás tue suerte de poder ser un niño!

Our children at Casa Chapi are able to further their education thanks to your generous donations.

The Casa Chapi Family Tree of Giving gives each donor a range of options for expressing their love and support for Casa Chapi. 100% of what you give is spent directly on the operation of Casa Chapi.

To learn more about the Family Tree of Giving, click the link below.