PASEO Program Adventure- Day 12: Trujillo, Peru

This whole lack of a cell phone thing really got me wondering why our society places such a large emphasis on electronics and non-verbal communication. Text messaging instead of phone calls, following people on social media sites instead of maintaining active communication, ignoring one another at the dinner table to “talk” to others via cell phones instead, and the infamous “let me take a picture of this so I can capture the moment.” When you don’t have a phone in front of you to partake in these actions, the only thing you really have is time to sit and think about all of it.

I’ll be the first to admit that it’s sad to think that so many pictures and videos are lost, but at the end of the day, that’s all they are—pictures and videos. The memories will always remain. (Yes, I’ve been told numerous times that I should have backed everything up on the cloud, but seeing as I’m not the most tech-savy person out there, the only thing I know about the cloud is that it’s what the weather forecaster speaks about whenever providing inaccurate weather forecasts). And in case you were wondering, no, my sense of humor hasn’t improved since losing my phone.

But really think about it. Everyone is trying to capture the moment we are currently living in, but are we really capturing the moment by snapping a picture? Of course you can look back years from now and enjoy the tangible object you have in your hand, but if we’re so focused on “capturing the moment,” we may lose out on actually living in and enjoying the moment. And that would be the biggest loss of all.

Maybe this is me trying to rationalize not having a cell phone at the moment and trying to look on the bright side, but I do hope that the day will come where we can stop relying on electronics to communicate with others while distancing ourselves from those around us, stop using emojis to describe how we’re feeling, and stop trying to preserve the moment we are currently in. When you take the time to think about it, each of the aforementioned actions only cause us to miss out on so many incredible memories that could be made all while doing so.

Yes, even though I’m sitting here writing about the challenges of communication in an era of technology, I still went out and purchased a Peruvian cell phone this evening in order to communicate with others. However, there is still something to be learned, seeing as so many of us are guilty on missing out on the current moment every time we try to “capture” the moment as best as we can. And as a side note, since the quality of the camera is subpar, I’ll leave you with a blank canvas to paint your own picture.

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PASEO Program Adventure- Day 11: Alto Trujillo, Peru

This morning started with a class focusing on Spanish for the mental health setting. After class, I traveled to Alto Trujillo to complete another observation for a different school. In order to get to the school, we had to take two different busses and a shared taxi cab. As I exited the taxi cab, my cell phone must have fallen out of my pocket. However, I didn’t realize that it was missing until the cab drove off. By now, someone must have either picked up my phone and switched the sim card so they could use it, or the person must have sold it by now. Either way, I was kind of hoping that whoever took my phone would continue writing blog posts for me so I would be off the hook, but that has yet to happen. For this reason, I still don’t have a photo for today’s post, and you’re still stuck with me.

Upon doing the evaluation for a primary school classroom, a psychology intern for the school approached me and started talking about difficulties she has come across while working with some of the children. As many of the teachers from other schools already explained, she mentioned that it’s difficult to generally expect children to act any way other than aggressive when that is the type of environment they are growing up in. The school system can be perfect and teachers can be a great sense of support for these children, but the difficulty lies in what type of environment the children are returning home to each and every day.

What is also upsetting is that since so many parents mistreat their children, neglect their children, or are working around the clock to provide for their families, the behaviors of so many children don’t meet what most schools would consider to be “ideal expectations” of how a child should act. For this reason, typical disciplinarian methods don’t always work. Unfortunately, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that the school’s disciplinarian (I believe every school here has one—or at least every public school) takes extreme methods to discipline the children when they “act out.” This intern told me that this particular school’s disciplinarian uses a garden hose to hit the children when they misbehave.

Again, so much of the necessary change needs to comes from the top down and from within the household, but unfortunately, this is much easier said than done. As frustrating as it is, I don’t have the solution or answer on how to go about making this change, but it’s something we need to be aware of. We never know what somebody may be going through or experiencing behind closed doors, so we cannot be quick to make our own conclusions or assumptions. Empathy can go a long way, and while it’s not the answer to a systemic problem that so desperately needs to change, I guess it’s something we will have to start with for now.

PASEO Program Adventure- Day 10: El Porvenir y Trujillo, Peru

If I could fast forward one day (in real time)… My phone fell out of my pocket today in a shared taxi cab, which explains why this post is picture-free. I’ll explain what happened in tomorrow’s post (which is today in real time). I just figured I’d let you know you’ll have to use your imagination for the next few days with regards to what I’m talking about. And for those of you who just look at the pictures and don’t read the post (which I imagine is most everyone), well, it doesn’t really matter since you wouldn’t have made it this far in the post anyways.

Today, we traveled to El Porvenir, where we met with a group of local women and family members. We will undoubtedly learn a great deal from those in the group, but the goal is to help teach these individuals relaxation techniques for them to utilize at any given moment. More importantly, these individuals will be able to teach these learned skills to others in the town, so that the cycle of knowledge can continue to be passed along.

Our evening was spent learning about Psychology in Peru, which focused on healthcare throughout the country. We watched various videos that showed the lack of resources and services that public hospitals are able to provide. People wait days in public hospitals before being able to be seen by the general doctors on site. Specialists are rare to come by, so you have to wait to see one of the few general doctors. When it comes to important procedures of surgeries, you may have to wait days before being seen, but being seen just means that you’re given an appointment to return months later. You’re also given a list of supplies that need to be purchased for your procedure or surgery—all of which you must pay for and supply yourself.

Hospitals receive government funding, but tend to find themselves on the side of corruption, as they have deals with local clinics. If someone needs an appointment, the hospital will likely send them to a private clinic. Regardless of whether or not it is an emergency, the individual will have to pay for his or her own transportation from the hospital to the clinic. Now add on the cost of whatever the private clinic will charge as well.

If you want to see someone for a mental health concern in the hospital, you’ll likely see a nurse because mental health professionals are just as scarce as good public healthcare. Imagine having a serious medical condition, all while having to wait days in a hospital (no exaggeration)—in a wheelchair (if you are lucky), on a chair (if you can find an available one), on the floor (if there is room), or outside on the street. Now imagine having said serious medical condition, alongside a mental illness. With or without a mental illness, you will likely come out of the hospital worse than when you went in.

While medical care is short-staffed and completely behind, you can only imagine what mental healthcare is like. For this reason, oftentimes the solution for those with mental illnesses is to go to the church, talk to a friend (if you’re fortunate enough to do so), turn to alcohol and/or drugs, or commit suicide.

It’s difficult and frustrating to discuss the corruption, mismanagement, and maltreatment that takes place for those without financial resources, which ultimately affects the lives of so many. How do you make a change from the bottom upwards, when real change needs to start from the top and work its way downwards? Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer just yet, but we have to start somewhere. And seeing local individuals gather together to try and help those in their community is definitely a start in the right direction.

PASEO Program Adventure- Day 9: Chan Chan, Peru

This morning, some of the other students and I traveled to Chan Chan, where we were able to see ancient ruins dating back hundreds of years ago. Chan Chan in Chimor translates to “Sol Sol” in Spanish or “Sun Sun” in English. As you can see in the pictures below, the attention to detail is truly magnificent. 

In this day and age, it’s difficult to find a contractor who will provide such noteworthy work and get the job done before the mortgage is paid off. But what the Chimu civilization was able to do was, and continues to be truly impressive. 

This next part comes from Cartwright (2016) because I wouldn’t be able to accurately describe the historial importance of these ruins on my own. 

“Chan Chan (Chimor) was the capital city of the Chimu civilization which flourished on the northern coast of Peru between the 12th and 15th centuries CE. The city was a giant metropolis populated by peoples from across the Chimu Empire, the largest the Americas had ever seen up to that time. Today, many of Chan Chan’s huge palace complexes with their high relief-decorated adobe walls still survive as testimony to the city’s lost grandeur.”

Hathaway (2009) states, “During its heyday, about 600 years ago, Chan Chan, in northern Peru, was the largest city in the Americas and the largest adobe city on earth. Ten thousand structures, some with walls 30 feet high, were woven amid a maze of passageways and streets. Palaces and temples were decorated with elaborate friezes, some of which were hundreds of feet long. Chan Chan was fabulously wealthy, although it perennially lacked one precious resource: water. Today, however, Chan Chan is threatened by too much water, as torrential rains gradually wash away the nine-square-mile ancient city.
Located near the Pacific coast city of Trujillo, Chan Chan was the capital of the Chimú civilization, which lasted from A.D. 850 to around 1470. The adobe metropolis was the seat of power for an empire that stretched 600 miles from just south of Ecuador down to central Peru. By the 15th century, as many as 60,000 people lived in Chan Chan—mostly workers who served an all-powerful monarch, and privileged classes of highly skilled craftsmen and priests. 

The city was established in one of the world’s bleakest coastal deserts, where the average annual rainfall was less than a tenth of an inch. Still, Chan Chan’s fields and gardens flourished, thanks to a sophisticated network of irrigation canals and wells.  

The Chimú civilization was the ‘first true engineering society in the New World,’ says hydraulic engineer Charles Ortloff, who is based in the anthropology department of the University of Chicago. He points out that Chimú engineering methods were unknown in Europe and North America until the late 19th century. Although the Chimú had no written language for recording measurements or drafting detailed blueprints, they were somehow able to carefully survey and build their massive canal through difficult foothill terrain between two valleys. Ortloff believes the canal builders must have been thwarted by the shifting earth. Around 1300, they apparently gave up on the project altogether.

Chan Chan’s days of glory came to an end around 1470, when the Inca conquered the city, broke up the Chimú Empire and brought many of Chan Chan’s craftsmen to their own capital, Cuzco, 600 miles to the southeast.”

PASEO Program Adventure- Day 8: Trujillo, Peru

Seeing as we have the weekends free, some of the other students and I traveled to the Plaza de Armas of Trujillo in the afternoon. The main city square is home to a cathedral built in 1647. However, the cathedral was destroyed in 1759, and rebuilt shortly afterward. 

We made it just in time as the sun was beginning to set, which brought a special glow to the plaza. We concluded the afternoon by seeing Mujer Maravilla (Wonderwoman) completely in Spanish. It was definitely a unique experience, as evidenced by children running around the movie theatre, people answering phone calls, and a lady next to us helping her child with her homework (all throughout the movie). And after all this time, here I was thinking that my mom’s continuous questioning of “what just happened” during movies was irritating. I guess we have to face it that things can always be worse. But if these are the things we complain about in life, then we’re clearly not doing all that bad. 

PASEO Program Adventure- Day 7: Huanchaco, Trujillo, y El Porvenir, Peru

Today consisted of another set of observations in a different school located in El Porvenir. While speaking with the principal, she informed me that out of 936 students (just in the secondary school alone), there is only one psychology intern for them to confide in, should they need to speak with someone. The resources are limited, and no matter how hard the teachers try to build their students up, so many of their families continuously tear them down.

The principal mentioned that just last week, two students got into an argument, which led to one student punching the other in the face. When the school called the student’s parent, the parent came to the school and almost immediately hit her child in the face upon hearing what happened. Fortunately, school administrators were able to intervene, but only for the time being. Unfortunately, what happens when the student returns home is considered a different story. 

With regards to continued education, many times, parents will tell their students that after secondary school, they can no longer continue their education because they need to start working and bringing in an income for the family. In other cases, the children aren’t even given that option, and will drop out of school so that they can work instead. 

While the principal explained that the school does have successful alumni who they are very proud of, there aren’t many. The mentality is typically to continue working where the parents work upon graduating (if the students complete secondary school), and in this particular city, this usually involves selling goods in the local market or making shoes. 

Just a few months ago, Peru experienced a devastating flood, which destroyed many houses and local buildings. One of the teachers spoke to me about a student of hers who was knocked down during the flood and nearly drowned. He hasn’t been able to focus on his school work ever since, and understandably so. Many of the students’ houses were destroyed in the flood as well, which led to them having to stay at the school in the days following the flood. As of this moment, most, if not all of them still do not have a home. 

The resources are scarce and lots of the familial situations aren’t conducive to fostering a child’s development in a safe and loving environment. But the students continue to smile, laugh, and find a way to continue to persevere. For many of these students, school is the only place where they are given the opportunity to do so. 

After a long day of observations and class (which I’ll discuss in a later post), I went to a local restaurant for dinner with a few of the students on my trip. Papa a la Huancaína (boiled yellow potatoes in a spicy, creamy sauce called Huancaína sauce.) and tallarín saltado con pollo was the perfect way to end the night.