Study in South America


Study-abroad program caps Kennesaw State’s “Year of Peru” More students went…

Georgia (Sep 12, 2012)

Study-abroad program caps Kennesaw State’s “Year of Peru”

More students went abroad for study in featured country than in previous years

This summer, Ann Nguyen spent six weeks on a study-abroad program living with a middle-class family in Lima, the Peruvian capital. Among the highlights of her trip: visiting the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, riding a dune buggy in the Ica desert and touring the biodiverse coastal town of Paracas. But besides the amazing sights, the tastes of Peru also stand out in her mind.

“My host mom was a great cook and every day she cooked typical dishes such as lomo saltado, papa rellena and aji de gallina,” says Nguyen, a Kennesaw State junior who describes herself as a “huge foodie.” “In the mornings we had fresh bread with avocado, queso fresco and ham. I learned recipes and kitchen tricks from my host mom.”

Nguyen was among 15 Kennesaw State students who participated in a study-abroad program that capped the university’s 2011-2012 “Year of Peru.” On campus, the yearlong country study brought the South American country to life with a schedule of activities that included lectures on the Spanish conquest, women’s health care and traditional mathematics; a textile exhibit; a cello and piano concert; and performances by theatre group Cuatrotablas.

But for a select group of students, the “Year of Peru” meant immersing themselves fully in Peruvian culture this summer as they lived with local families, attended classes, took taxis to get around Lima and traveled around the country. The program, directed by Neysa Figueroa from the Department of Foreign Languages, was the first one to offer a homestay in Lima.

“By staying six weeks, I was able to not only become immersed in the culture but also improve my Spanish,” said Plamen Mavrov, a junior majoring in international affairs and political science. “ I loved staying with a Peruvian family.”

The students, hosted by CENTRUM, the business school of the Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru, took Spanish language classes and visited one of the biggest beverage factories in the country and a textile manufacturer. They also spent time with developmentally challenged adults and senior citizens from low-income areas.

During the “Year of Peru” more students studied abroad in the featured country than in any other year, says Dan Paracka, director of education abroad at Kennesaw State. In addition to the students who lived with Peruvian families over the summer, other groups who traveled to Peru included students from the Center for Student Leadership and the KSU Nature Bound Program.

The “Year of Peru” brought a higher profile for Kennesaw State in the Andean nation of 30 million.

“We now have more connections with universities, faculty and individuals in Peru,” says Ernesto Silva, co-organizer of the “Year of Peru” and coordinator of the Latin American/Latino Studies Program. “People in Peru are now aware of Kennesaw State, whose name was widely publicized when we were interviewed in a national radio program and featured in print media. This greatly increased Kennesaw State’s visibility as a choice destination for Peruvian students.”

Silva, who is originally from Peru, hopes the “Year of Peru” opens the doors for more exchanges and programs in years to come as Kennesaw State signed MOUs with CENTRUM Catolica and Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola (USIL).  Silva said that in summer 2013, another group of Kennesaw State students will study in Peru, including psychology students.

Historically, Peru has been known as the center of the Inca Empire, one of the main ancient civilizations of the Americas. But more recently, Peru has received recognition for its growing economy and stable society, its literature (Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa won the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature) and its celebrated cuisine, Silva explained.

“The cuisine of Peru is quite a unique demonstration of the multicultural origins of Peru,” said Silva, who taught a course last fall on the works of Vargas Llosa.  “It is a blend of ancient indigenous cuisine with Spanish, African and Asian roots. Each region has its own culinary traditions.”

Peruvian cuisine was an important component of the “Year of Peru.” Every Friday. Peruvian cuisine was featured in The Commons, a first for a “Year of” program. Also, two Kennesaw State students attended the renowned Mistura annual food festival in Lima. With Kennesaw State opening a school of culinary arts soon, more exchanges with Peru are expected, Silva said.

All in all, the “Year of Peru” featured extensive student engagement, faculty research and partnership outreach, says Paracka. “The ‘Year of Peru’ was quite dynamic. It resulted in new courses and curriculum, research and grant projects, education-abroad programs and global partnerships.”





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