Picture of Peru, a student travel group, and locals with animated text that reads

Service Learning

Breaking ground and building cultural bridges in Peru: A photo essay

As students began building a new weaving center in a small Peruvian village, they didn’t just see the progress they were making. They felt the lasting change they were creating.

In March 2022, Spanish teacher Darlene H. and 18 high school students left their cozy town of Brentwood, CA to find adventure in the Andes. As part of their EF Service Learning tour, Exploring Art, Culture & Service in Peru, they balanced hikes through the colorful streets of Lima and the lost city of Machu Picchu with cultural immersion and community service in the Sacred Valley.

We’ll let their incredible pictures of Peru take it from here.

Two pictures of Peru, one that's a landscape and one featuring students and teacher walking along a path together

Darlene and her students traveled to the small village of Patacancha to begin work on their service project.

This picture of Peru features local men, women, and children at a weaving collaborative, with handwritten text that reads,

Following a three-year pause on construction due to COVID-19, Darlene and her students were the first EF Service Learning group to break ground on an all-new knitting and weaving center for women in the community.

Students dig in a rocky area in this picture of Peru

Once we arrived, we got straight to work with excavating a perimeter. Using pickaxes, shovels, sweat, and teenage willpower, we worked with the members of the village to create a noticeable dent in the Earth.

Bailey J., student

Pictures of Peru featuring students and handwritten checklist text that reads,
This picture of Peru features a woman close-up and medium-distance images of a woman weaving with the embedded text,

This project was made possible through EF’s 10-year-long collaboration with Awamaki, an organization that partners with Andean women to create economic opportunity, build their financial independence, and support their art.

Years in the future, when the building is completed, we can look back and know we helped start the process.

Adriana D., student

Two pictures of Peru that feature local men, women, and children inside and outside structures that are currently under construction
Picture of Peru with text overlaid reading,

While students got their hands dirty excavating the building’s perimeter and clearing rock walls, they learned about responsible travel and rural Peruvian life firsthand from Patacancha’s residents.

Two pictures of Peru, one featuring a Peruvian woman holding a bouquet of flowers and a skein of yarn, and the other a close-up of a loom

Once work was finished for the day, the group learned how the local women create yarn from alpaca wool. Using only natural resources (mainly flowers and herbs), they dye the string in vibrant pinks, yellows, greens, and purples.

 

Although I don’t speak Spanish, there is something about smiles and laughter that breaks down the barriers of language. Seeing the smiles of the children, the elderly, the women, the men [when we shared our handmade bracelets] made the trip feel so much more worthwhile and joyful.

Bailey J., student

This picture of Peru features an image of two children overlaid with handwritten text that's a quote from student Bailey J.:

Between learning about their big impact in a small community, Darlene and her students’ explored even more of Peru, from its history and heights to its art and food.

Pictures of Peru 1/4: Image of students in an art classroom

1/4 “We carved and painted our own 4” x 4” tiles at the Pablo Seminario ceramics workshop and will return in a few days to pick them up once they’ve been fired.” –Amelia B., student

 

2/4 “When we were at the top of Machu Picchu, clouds covered the surrounding mountains and parts of the city, but once they parted the view was beautiful. The ruins that were left had their own story to tell. Even though the hike was long, hard, and tiring, the views at the end made it all worth it.” –Devyn C., student

Pictures of Peru 3/4: Image a Peruvian man in front of a tray of empanadas

3/4 “When we arrived in Pisac Market, we went into a store that had jewelry and clothing. The owners were cooking empanadas in the back and offered us multiple types to try—con queso, con queso y jamón, con verduras, and more. Then they taught us how to differentiate real silver and clothing made from baby alpaca far from fakes.” –Leila F., student

Pictures of Peru 4/4: Image of a musician in front of a table of musical instruments

4/4 “We all met for a special surprise down in the lobby, which was a musical demonstration by David Bolaños. He’s a famous musician in South America—he even got the opportunity to play for Queen Elizabeth on her birthday.” –Annabelle B., student

1/4 “We carved and painted our own 4” x 4” tiles at the Pablo Seminario ceramics workshop and will return in a few days to pick them up once they’ve been fired.” –Amelia B., student

2/4 “When we were at the top of Machu Picchu, clouds covered the surrounding mountains and parts of the city, but once they parted the view was beautiful. The ruins that were left had their own story to tell. Even though the hike was long, hard, and tiring, the views at the end made it all worth it.” –Devyn C., student

3/4 “When we arrived in Pisac Market, we went into a store that had jewelry and clothing. The owners were cooking empanadas in the back and offered us multiple types to try—con queso, con queso y jamón, con verduras, and more. Then they taught us how to differentiate real silver and clothing made from baby alpaca far from fakes.” –Leila F., student

4/4 “We all met for a special surprise down in the lobby, which was a musical demonstration by David Bolaños. He’s a famous musician in South America—he even got the opportunity to play for Queen Elizabeth on her birthday.” –Annabelle B., student

A group of students smiling and posing in front of a rock wall in the final image of pictures of Peru

Explore more Service Learning at EF

On our tours, students gain confidence and independence while making meaningful contributions in local communities.

See the collection See all Peru tours

Maddie Poulin

Maddie is a copywriter at EF. She loves dissecting movies and TV shows, making playlists for every mood, staying active, and dreaming about her next trip.

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