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.

Xeina is a recent high school graduate now moving onto college in Maryland. This is an interview about what the future holds for her.

Q: Now that you have completed high school, what’s next, Xeina?

A: My next steps are for me to go to college, my summer was busy but ready for college. I am either go into medicine to become a surgeon or any other type of doctor or I’ll be going to business. I am not sure yet, but whatever path I take my heart will be with it.

Q: What are you looking forward to the most while in college?

A: Well making friends, study hard to achieve what I want but also have a great experience.

Q: Why is education important for you?

A: Education is important to me because without it you limit your potential to become more than what you think. Also education is important because is this life education is everything and learning new skills. 

Q: Do you have any words of encouragement for future college-bound students that may have reservations/hesitations?

A: I am not sure how college is going to be because I haven’t started yet, but trust me that college is not just study, is also the connections you make. The people you meet and the new skills you learn.

Q: Any other comments or remarks for our community at Quechua Benefit?

A: I just want to say thank you for all the people who has followed my journey until today. I am really grateful because if it wasn’t for you guys, I wouldn’t be here ready to go to college and give everything of me, study hard, but also enjoy my experience. You guys are part of my life and I hope to make each and everyone of you proud of me. Thank you again!

Inspired by Xeina’s story? Your gift today will help her, and others like her, create opportunities to make an impact in their communities. Click the link below to give the gift of higher education.