Last week I went on my last field visit. Yup, my internship is rounding up and you would think at this point I would be a pro at planning my trips. Because this time I was planning on working with parents to validate the adult workshops I had designed and staying in the communities, I needed to plan the trip much in advance to accomodate to parents’ busy schedules. I must admit, I did not. With some valid reasons for the tardiness and others not so much, I felt extremely guilty for the situation. Guilty because I was being the stereotype that we so often talked about in our master’s program; the foreigner imposing a schedule, an agenda, without considering the population. The only thing I could do at that point was to offer deeply felt apology and offer my most genuine flexibility. Luckily, the Cusco team was very open to include me in their work schedule to complete my activities, though I was not quite sure what the agenda would look like.
Off I went on the first flight to Cusco, a city in the Andes at an altitude of 11,000ft. I took my sorochi pill, a pill for altitude sickness, right before my flight. I knew I would go straight to the community with an even higher altitude with no time to acclimate. The acompañantes (staff that provides regional technical assistance for the project) were already at the community. I was guided to the bus station, given further directions to get to the community and sent off. It was quite an adventure! 4 hours, 1 bus and a taxi later I made it to the community of Hachacalla. The Hachacalla school is a multigrade school with about 60 students from preschool to 6th grade. I was welcome by the team and by the lovely surprise of having the principal be one of the participants I met at the Colloquium a month back. The team chose for me to visit this school because it comes very close to what the ideal EIB school is like. Additionally, the team has worked with the community consistently for almost two years, so it made an excellent place for observation of their community engagement strategy.
As soon as I arrived we got right into business. The parents were scheduled to meet in less than an hour after my arrival for a previously scheduled meeting. We did a quick review of the workshop and decided the acompañantes would implement it in Quechua and I would serve as guidance. The workshop went well; we had to cut it short as the meeting was running over 4 hours. All the families were troopers and seemed engaged throughout the workshop. It was great to have the opportunity to do a test run to one of the sessions because it made me realized of some assumptions I was making when designing it and of other things that needed to be modified or at least noted for future implementers. I learned so much from the parents that night (of course, after it had been translated for me haha); I’m so grateful for the opportunity.
The next day was a busy one. I continued taking notes and casually talking to the teachers and children, observing some activities and finally supporting in the implementation of the children’s workshop. With a similar experience as the night before, it was great to see first hand how a session would look like implemented by the teacher and how much more details needed to be included to make the session clear for someone who is new to the workshops.
I parted Hachacalla with a clearer understanding of what EIB is trying to achieve. It’s not only about educating children in their language and with a relevant cultural context. EIB is to empower a population who for too many years has been belittled, who has been divested from their land, their traditions, their beliefs, and whose wisdom has been oppressed. EIB is not trying to bring back the past, but build a future for the next generations of the pueblos originarios who are proud and thriving being themselves. It is also, as one of the parents in the workshop put it, an education where all students learn about each other’s culture and language as everyone is part of this country. Only with time and people demanding their rights to an inclusive education will EIB reach its potential for all peruvians everywhere.
There was much more to the trip, but I think I have overdone the length of this blog. Instead I’ll let pictures describe the rest of my trip. Until next time!