Now in its fifth year, the Service-Learning and Language Immersion Program in Peru is a collaboration of the Center for Civic Engagement, the Master’s of Public Administration Department in the College of Community and Public Affairs and the Office of International Education and Global Initiatives. It combines a course at Binghamton University with 3 weeks of on-site language immersion and service-learning in Cusco, Peru.
Below are excerpts from participating students' final reflections on their experiences with the various service partners they worked with while in Peru. They compare how the service partners attack local development, thinking about similarities and differences in the organizations' strategies.
"I think that each [service partner has] their own ways of tackling local development with different goals in mind. AbrePuertas and Corazon de Dahlia both focused on the enrichment of the children in the area in terms of their education and after school engagement. In Alto Cusco however, the focus was more on the gastronomic availability in the town which currently has no running water. This basic need has to be met before other programs such as [those at AbrePuertas and Corazon de Dahlia] can successfully be implemented. Each program is responding to an immediate need to encourage the eventual improvement of the town in general." --Sedonia Lake
"I found that all three provide an integral service to the community that address very real needs that otherwise would not have been addressed. I think the major difference in the three is that Comedores Populares addresses the need of hunger while both Corazon de Dahlia and AbrePuertas addresses the needs of children from the surrounding area." --Angelina Brooks
---"The service programs have made our immersion in the country and community better and more profound. Because of the service projects, we were able to take a look at some of the social programs in place in Perú and see how effective they are in helping the people and the community advance." --Jennifer Augustin---"[AbrePuertas and Corazon de Dhalia] act independently from their respective municipalities, [offering] safe, empowering programs for the children within the community. This type of empowerment can have real, profound impacts, as they both influence the future generation and instill certain positive characteristics upon the children. In contrast to our work with the other groups, the Comodores Populares received a bit of funding from the local municipality in the form of set amounts of ingredients." --Zachary Malik---"AbrePuertas and Corazon de Dahlia are after-school "safe havens" for children. There are wonderful point systems in place to reward children for attendance and good behavior. I really liked that system in the sense that there is some morality to the establishments outside of the games and fun that take place. Without these incredible programs, children would not have a place to stay since often times their parents work long hours and cannot be there all the time." --Garrett Holmes---"Differences between AbrePuertas and Corazon de Dahlia include that AbrePuertas's children may not have special needs, but there is a child with special needs at Corazon de Dahlia. Unfortunately, Corazon de Dahlia does not receive enough funding to hire a teacher with the appropriate training to assist in the development of children with special needs. " --Danielle Schulman------"Commodores Populares is a little different than our first two organizations in that it didn't directly deal with children however it still empowered the community. It allows the community to obtain food with people in the community and I think actually acts as a unifying force for the people. Although it does not directly impact the children, during our time at commodores, while we were building the room, one of the "Mommies" sons, Dante, watched us, helped us build and even danced with us. Just like the kids at the other two organization I could tell how proud Dante was of himself for helping." --Sara Herlands---"After both projects [at AbrePuertas and Corazon de Dahlia], we were able to see our impact on the children when we were leaving. In our final project, building a new Communes Populares, we weren't able to see the direct impact on the community when we left. However, I feel that helping to build the Communes Populares will have the most lasting impact because it was really needed in the community." --Sydney Dunn---"[All of the] programs focus on different aspects of development within the communities they are found in. Though they are extremely specific, in the end they each provide benefits that create small but necessary changes to try to ensure a better future for all." --Alison Jones---