2006 Report

Significant learnings


Andean society and practices

  • Here in the Andean highlands there exist a complex social network among neighbors, families, land owners, health workers and shop owners, to name a few. People really depend upon each other and strive for balance within society that appears egalitarian. Land use for food, animal husbandry and general resources reflect a balance or fluidity, as well.
  • Going to market and watching people walk for very long distances to sell their goods opened my eyes to the differences in conceptions of time and energy. The notion of the “Peruvian hour” and the importance of stopping to interact with people you know along the way, struck me.
  • Learning about the different foods that are grown and produced in this region has been a very satisfying experience. Going to market to see the potato and corn varieties as well as sampling them here at the chacra allowed me a greater understanding of the people I saw tending their crops on a daily basis.
  • I enjoyed the variety of activities and thought the cuy healing was a highlight because I have never seen anything like it.
  • The coca leaf, tobacco and pisco are viewed as sacred, respected entities that aren’t necessarily abused or consumed in mass quantities. Consumption has been a theme in my mind since arriving here, and being aware of my own consumption is just one aspect of things I have become more aware of.

Work and resourcefulness

  • I saw how much work people do everyday when they tend their fields by hand, with out the help of modern machinery. And so why should we (Americans and others) consider them ignorant because they still farm traditionally? I think it’s quite beautiful that people here still appreciate, value and cherish their roots.
  • The thing that stands out in my mind is how hard people work, weaving, plowing, gathering crops from early morning to dusk. What they eat, what they wear and where they live all comes from the hard work of their own hands.
  • I’ve seen the hard work of women in the market, the hours of strain put into beautiful things that I feel I don’t pay enough for. They have a lot to say for themselves by the hard work they perform everyday, the generosity they express.
  • My impression is that life here does not revolve around material objects; the locals enjoy hard work enough to survive and play enough to appreciate the goods things in life.
  • Everything still speaks of the natural world here – of workmanship and handicrafts. You have to know how to do something with your hands in Peru.
  • The people are resourceful and utilize what they have to ensure that they will maintain the life that they love and the niche that they fill. The farms extend high up to the tops of the hills where no one but the most determined and experienced farmer would venture to plant anything. The people here are resilient and humble and it is just their life – plain and simple, integrating all the parts of themselves – their surroundings, and their beliefs into one complete daily life practice, perfected by generations.


  • Every woman I have seen in full traditional dress blows me away with the beauty, vibrancy, intricate embroidery patterns that decorate their clothing.
  • Traditional dress and hats have taken on more meaning that just amusement or photographic material. Through actually living here for a few weeks, learning traditional song and dance, as well as interacting with a variety of people, I feel like I can better understand the meaning behind the symbols.
  • Market days and fiestas show Peru’s strong culture. I see farmers, weavers, ceramicists and others carry on traditions. Customs of dancing, drinking and fireworks in front of the church seem so powerful. There is a feeling you get when you attend such events, it empowers your body and soul. Just being there you absorb part of the culture.
  • I love that we had the opportunity to visit two very different fiestas. It was interesting that even amidst differences, similarities were foremost. The fiestas provided great insight into Andean people and culture.
  • The main thing I learned about Andean culture is that it is beautiful, meaningful, steeped in legend and tradition, and in need of being preserved. I hope that the traditions and beauty of Andean highland society isn’t receding in the way of the glaciers of the Andes.

Relationship with the earth

  • People know their land outstandingly well. There are no actual boundaries to their land, except for natural markers they go by. Probably by word of mouth, passed down from generation to generation these people know every inch of their land; plants, trees, rocks and people. I could be walking past a plant and that plant may have medicinal purposes. The people here are not wasteful, but resourceful, using waste for animals or fertilizer. It is in a way an ecological area where everything cycles returning to nature.
  • People have a great respect for the land, the mountains, the sky, and for Pachamama. It is only from outside influences, such as prepackaged food and bottles that contamination and pollution begin to manifest.
  • I was overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of the people. They live closely with the earth and know it very well. Despite economic realities, the people have so little yet they seem so happy – all one has to do to get a sense of this is attend a fiesta.
  • Despite the difficulties and dangers, people make sacrifices and survive through it, without moving, knowing they could be swallowed up by the earth in an instant knowing they are no more than mere humans living in a landscape that they have no control over – they have not tried to conquer it, only work with it, alongside it with the understanding that the less they know and the more they do not pay attention to, the worse off they are. In this way the relationship is cyclical and beautiful – if you do not know the plants you are more likely to be sick and stay that way, if you do not listen to the weather and ecology you do not eat. Everything that has a cause in nature has an effect in humans living here. What a beautiful place to learn and be a part for a while.
  • In the past three weeks I have learned an inconceivable amount about midwifery, music, dance, language, the environment, herbs and natural medicine, and a lot about myself. I am not the same person I was three weeks ago.
  • I am stronger and a little bit wiser. My previous worries have been transformed into concern for the environment on an entirely different level, embracing people’s needs, looking out for the social well being of not only myself, but of the community and those around me.

Research methods

  • Participatory Action Research (PAR) is rooted upon sustainability, the empowerment of community members and consciousness raising. This approach seems to be based upon open dialogue and communication, with flexibility and an element of fun and enjoyment. Each of the workshops I attended was fun and the people seemed to be enjoying themselves. It sparked passion within people and was not invasive nor threatening.
  • The best aspect of PAR is that it comes from the people and not filtered (or maybe bot as much) by the anthropologist. I learned that the basic idea is that knowledge is collective and created by social interactions, which ties in very well with our group research teams.
  • I have particularly enjoyed learning about the methodologies of PAR and have become excited and inspired by this field. The thought that one can become attached, yet detached, to allow communities to seize their own futures (in the US as well as abroad), regardless of whether or not it leads to industrialization, to relinquish the manipulative and subjective words of “poverty” and “development” and allow communities to define these words for themselves.
  • I’ve learned that anthropology research doesn’t (nor shouldn’t) have to be merely academic. I’ve seen by example how research can be done via community interaction. Becoming involved in community discussions and concerns – be it regarding health, violence, water, mines, healing, agriculture, weaving, etc. – the point is the involvement and action.
  • Anthropology without action is very frustrating and it is inspiring and uplifting to see something else (Action Research) that is real and working. I know for many people time commitment is an issue, but I know through first hand experience with similar action methods that true organic change, even in a small community takes a very long time, but is worth every minute of it. I feel incredibly fortunate to have had this experience to learn new ideas for how to inspire participatory research within a community.
  • I was particularly struck by engaging with PAR and what it means. This program has helped me tremendously in terms of opening my thinking about various ways of knowing and learning. The concept of facilitation seemed particularly apt to me; consciousness raising, knowledge producing research that groups accomplish on their own. PAR sessions aren’t the research team’s but rather belong to and are of the participants.
  • I want to positively impact the individuals and area where I get the opportunity to work in the future. PAR gets the community involved and in control of their destiny.
  • All the knowledge I have gained is from experience, I will apply it to the next experience and the next, the experiential learning cycle is never ending.
  • I feel getting into the community and using my Spanish to communicate and find out different and new things is a method on its own.
  • The whole experience was research – research on the different aspects of a new culture, research on the great people I met, lived with, conversed and research in myself – learning more about who I am and where I need to place myself in this world.


  • I think that this setting is absolutely perfect for this program. Carhuaz, while it is a nice sized town, and being lodged above in a more rural area is conducive for the kinds of experiences and observations that are a key part of this whole experience.
  • The way of life on the ranch is inspiring to me, and I’m hoping to make some changes in my life based upon what I’ve seen. What better place to foster learning? To hear a lecture about Andean tourism while looking at the very mountains, then go out the next day to talk with the people affected by the tourism. Nothing we learned or examined was in vain – everything related back to the everyday reality of life in the Callejón de Huaylas.
  • The place of study is excellent. Living on an ecological ranch with animals, solar energy, solar cookers and organic food all focused on environmental awareness.
  • By living in a sustainable setting, we were given a model of how to live in balance with your surroundings. It also felt nice to be a part of a social network here, to coexist with animals and plants and to feel that your energy and qualities were a key component to the group setting.
  • The chacra serves as a dual component to our learning experiences. Living in the setting raised our own consciousness about our contribution to the earth. The issues of consumption and waste were clearly brought to our attention.
  • I felt more in touch with the earth and gained a heightened sense of the importance of the land and protecting her. The food was so carefully prepared and a lot of care went into our general well being. I felt honored to be a visitor and temporary resident here.
  • I think that this setting is perfect, and it has a safe haven feel that I so needed. I hope this location for the field school never changes.
  • The workings on the ranch have provided so much to think about. Living by example makes such an impact. The knowledge gained has been immense, similarly the stay at La Casa de Pocha has and will continue to affect me and my life. The setting completed the program “package.”
  • It is time to wake up and see the mountains in the distance, for they can be climbed, they can be touched and they can be seen if one opens up their eyes wide enough to see the possibilities they hold.


Photo gallery


Jenny Morgan,
California State University – Fresno

My Three Weeks in Peru
During August, I spent three weeks in Peru enrolled in an ethnography field school offered by the Center for Social Wellbeing and Patricia Hammer. We focused on Action Research, an idea that insists on the researchers’ participation in the community in which they are learning about. My lessons began when I flew into Lima, a busy city by the bay……| more…

Aline Lane,
Western Washington University

Reflection: The places we go, people we meet, things we do are all experiences that build our character and make us who we are in this very moment and for the future. Being twenty years old, confused about life, people, and where or what to do with my future, traveling to Peru for three weeks was probably the best thing I could do for myself.……| more…




Posted on: September 22, 2017admin
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