Tag Archives: Peru

A Fulbright Teacher in Bogota, Colombia, A Special Series – Amazonas: The Open Border – by Laura Blasena. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

A Fulbright Teacher in Bogota, Colombia, A Special Series – Amazonas: The Open Border – by Laura Blasena. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

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(Capybara in Spanish is chiguiro. The nature reserve threw their food waste into the same area every evening, and a family of chiguiros would stop by to eat the scraps in the morning.)

I was really surprised when I told the professors at my university that I was going to visit Amazonas before returning home for Christmas and the only response I got was “Why wouldn’t you want to go to the coast for your vacation time?”

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When I was actually in Amazonas, a lot of tour guides and various individuals that we met during our ten day trip asked us the same question: “Why do foreigners always want to visit the Amazon?” I’m not really sure what the answer is, but I know that from my personal experience that I grew up learning about the Amazon as a mythical, majestic, wonderful place. I played Amazon Trail for hours on the computer in elementary school, and in science classes throughout my education we would learn with awe about the wonders of the Amazon.

In Colombia, it’s a little less awe-inspiring for a very specific reason.

I and several friends of mine in the Fulbright program spent, all together, ten days in Amazonas, the region in the south of Colombia that shares a part of the Amazon rain forest that also extends into Peru and Brazil. It’s an open-border area, which means that throughout our travels we spent several days in Peru and Brazil, but we were never required to present a passport. We were only required to declare if we were bringing more than two products of another country back into Colombia due to economic sanctions in the area.

Our first two days were spent at a nature reserve in Peru. We hiked, napped in hammocks, fished, kayaked, hung out with capybaras, and searched for caimans (alligators) at night. At the end of our two days, we returned to Leticia, the capital of Amazonas in Colombia, and stayed at a hotel from which we made two additional overnight excursions into Peru and Brazil, as well as a few different day trips into Brazil. We were only once required to exchange pesos for reales (the currency of Brazil), and it was to pay for a lunch that we bought in Tabatinga. Tabatinga and Leticia are more or less the same city, but they are divided by a political boundary on maps and a series of small signs that we accidentally missed the first time we entered Brazil.

Our guide that stayed with us for our ten days in Amazonas explained that while she was a Colombian citizen, she chose to live in Brazil because rent was cheaper. There was no paperwork to fill out. There was no citizenship to apply for. She simply paid her rent each month and crossed the border whenever she wanted to go in to Leticia, which is quite often because she does most of her grocery shopping there.

It was very interesting seeing how the three countries were so fluid in this area. Of course, in the jungle there was no way to tell if you were in a Peruvian river or a Colombian river, but even in the cities there was very little to alert you to the fact that you had entered another country. In Brazil, the signs are all in Portuguese, but Portuguese and Spanish are such similar languages that I often found myself reading the signs and wondering why the Spanish had been spelled so strangely.

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(Is this a Peruvian, Colombia, or Brazilian river? I have no idea. I also have no idea how the guides remembered where to go in the different branches of the river, especially since the landscape changes so drastically depending on the season.)

Back to the question: Why is the Amazon not quite so awe-inspiring to Colombians?

Amazonas is the place that many high schoolers visit on their end-of-the-year-trip. At many of the nature reserves that hosted visitors, we were confused about the sheer number of beds, showering facilities, and hammocks that existed until our guide would explain that each location often hosted large groups of high schoolers from international or private schools throughout Colombia.

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(They’re not actually called river grapes, but I like to call them Amazonian River Grapes. Unlike other grapes, they grow on trees and the best way to get them down is to hit the tree with a stick (very scientific). You have to peel the skin off the outside of the grape before you eat it or else you risk getting abrasions on the inside of your mouth because the skin is like sandpaper.)

At the first nature reserve that we stayed at there were three school groups also there. One group was from Cali, a city on the Atlantic coast of Colombia. The other two groups were from Bogota–like us! The first night that we stayed at the reserve there were only the five of us, but on the second night the 120 bed facility was nearly full! Another group of high school students also stopped by in the middle of the day.

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About our special correspondent Laura Blasena: Ever since I was a little Kindergartner I’ve always wanted to be a teacher.

I graduated from St. Scholastica in the summer of 2015 with a double major in Elementary Education and Spanish Education after student teaching as a 5th grade teacher and also as a Spanish teacher at NorthStar in Duluth, Minnesota.

While my future plans before graduation were initially to become a classroom teacher, I decided to wait a year to begin teaching in the United States and have chosen to work as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Bogota, Colombia. In Colombia, I will be working with a university as an assistant in the language department, attending classes, running conversation clubs, and offering the perspective of a native speaker.

I’ve always loved to travel. In college, I participated in several study abroad trips, visiting England, Guatemala, and Mexico. (I loved visiting Mexico so much that I even went back a second time!). I’m looking forward to the travel opportunities that I will have while working and living in Colombia.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In five semesters we have published 200 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. We are sponsored by St. Scholastica’s Department of History and Politics and by the scholarly Middle Ground Journal: World History and Global Studies (http://theMiddleGroundJournal.org).

For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica.

Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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The North Star Project, 2013 Summer Report Number Thirty-Five — Lima, Peru, Peru te quiero, por eso te defiendo Peru I love you, that is why I defend you

The North Star Project, 2013 Summer Report Number Thirty-Five — Lima, Peru, Peru te quiero, por eso te defiendo/ Peru I love you, that is why I defend you

By Pamela Hartley Pinto
Lima, Peru, “Perú te quiero, por eso te defiendo/ Peru I love you, that is why I defend you”

Turmoil in the Peruvian Congress

Corruption unfortunately is not a foreign word to a Peruvian. Corruption has been part of our government as long as I can remember and is a major part of the political history of the country.

Peru has a booming economy, it is growing and it is constantly developing into a modern and stable, in the most loosely defined sense of the term ‘stable’ However, many aspects of the country are not moving forward and one of these is the permanent issue of corruption, creating instability and discontent amongst the citizens who now more than ever are fighting for Peru.

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In these times of struggle and political instability, Peru remembers the hard times it has been through and how it has overcome many hardships. Peru celebrates today a weekend of independence, democracy and freedom. Peru declared its independence from Spain on July 28th 1821, today it celebrates this triumph and remembers all the obstacles that made this nation stronger.

As Peru celebrates its independence, the citizens also unite and gather to demand a better and less corrupt government. In this week of independence, several strikes and political demonstrations have taken place. Citizens have united to speak up for their rights and have demanded transparency and accountability from the government. The streets of the main square were filled with people chanting and screaming, “Peru te quiero, por eso te defiendo which roughly translates to Peru I love you, that is why I defend you. Something characteristic about these protests was that the young people of Peru are now speaking up and taking a stance for a change that they not only want but also need.

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Thousands of people, mainly young citizens and key organizations such as the National Human Rights Defense Coordination, gathered in front of the congress to protest about “La Repartija” This refers to a political arrangement created by the government to benefit its own representatives. It is an unfair, corrupt, biased and unrepresentative election of government officials for this upcoming term. Officials were elected based on party favorites instead of being chosen for what they could bring to the table. A couple of examples of these poor choices include the public defender, head of the constitutional tribunal and head of the central reserve bank. All of which are key positions in the country.

People are protesting because the government is not acknowledging the demands of the average citizen. The political atmosphere that surrounds the capital city of Lima is not one that promotes trust or transparency, instead the government projects uncertainty and instability. As the people walked through the main square, police officers and military itself tried to contain the until then peaceful protest with tear gas. This invasive action by the police shifted the entire protest into a chaotic scene where several people were arrested. At the end of the protest, many highlighted that the protest was not only about the “repartija”, it also represented the degrading manner in which politics have been taking place in Peru.

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Protests like these are not uncommon in Peru, or in any other country in fact. However, in times celebration and regard for national pride and unity, protests of this sort tend to become a trending topic to emphasize that the people do not agree with the political aspect of the country. It is important to highlight that a well-established democracy is created from political, economic and social balance. The government must respect the autonomy of different social groups. Instead, today, Peru’s government is creating great polarization amongst its political entities. Peruvians are demanded a united front, we want a stable democracy, a government that is truly representative of all the citizens, not just the elected few.

Peru has come a long way, but it is more than evident that there is still a long road laying ahead. Now more than ever the people of Peru expect more from the government, more from the country itself. Peru has a lot to offer, and its people know this more than anyone. The expectation from the people first and foremost is to have a decent government, which includes a decent power.

Picture credit: Francesca Chacon and Giancarlo Castro.

The North Star Project: Collaboration between The Middle Ground Journal Student Interns, The College of St. Scholastica, and North Star Academy 8th Grade Global Studies Classes, 2013-2014 School Year Summer Reports.

Under the leadership of our North Star host teachers and student interns, The North Star Project has flourished for two years. For a brief summary, please see a recent article in the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

This summer we will re-tool and re-design the collaborative program, drawing on the experience of our veteran student interns, ideas from our host teachers, and new projects provided by our incoming student interns. This summer The Middle Ground Journal will share brief dispatches from our North Star Project student interns, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. As of the time of this report we have confirmed student interns who will be reporting from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing presentations on theatrical representations of historical trauma, historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and different perceptions of current events from around the world. We will post their brief dispatches here throughout the summer, and report on their interactions with the North Star students and teachers throughout the school year.

Hong-Ming Liang, Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA, June, 2013

(c) 2013 The Middle Ground Journal, Number 6, Spring, 2013. See Submission Guidelines page for the journal’s not-for-profit educational open-access policy.

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The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Thirty-Six, Boundaries and Poverty, Peru and the World by Pamela Hartley Pinto

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The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Thirty-Six, Boundaries and Poverty, Peru and the World by Pamela Hartley Pinto

I am fortunate enough to live in one of the wealthiest parts of Lima, Peru. I live in a gated community with guards in every entrance, where pretty much every house has a pool, at least two cars, a huge backyard, maids, gardeners etc. This bubble is paradise for many and they/we forget that less than 15 minutes away on the other side of “paradise” is one of the poorest communities in Lima where people live in extreme poverty.
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Their homes consist of dirt floors, no running water, no private electricity and no sewer system. This is the true definition of extreme poverty where people do live with less than a dollar a day.

The sad thing is that the only thing separating both places is a massive wall built by those who want to keep outsiders or the poor out. A wall that exemplifies the dichotomy of many countries where there is abundant wealth but also extreme inequality. At this time the wall that separates Casuarinas and Pamplona Alta is less than 2000 meters long and 3 meters high.

Once more this wall highlights the segregation and discrimination that exists in Peru. Don’t get me wrong, I love my country but there are things that frustrate me about the society I live in.  This division emphasizes how people unjustly correlate monetary poverty with moral poverty. As if those who live in extreme poverty also lack values and morality itself.
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This wall has been theme for controversy over the past years. Some argue that it is essential in order to “keep them out” others believe that the wall encourages crime and provokes those on the other side.

Personally I was very interested about this assertion and I asked several guards of Casuarinas and they all said that crime has not increased or decreased since the construction of the wall. Therefore this raises another controversy, is the all wall really fulfilling its purpose or is it just a symbolic necessity for those who live inside “paradise?”

[Below is a picture of this massive wall and it is evident how two areas are so close and at the same time so different.]
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For all of the North Star Project 2013-2014 Reports, see https://mgjnorthstarproject.wordpress.com/
For all of the North Star Project 2013 Summer Reports, see http://www2.css.edu/app/depts/HIS/historyjournal/index.cfm?cat=10

The North Star Project 2013-2014 School Year Reports: The Middle Ground Journal’s collaborative outreach program with K-12 classes around the world. We gratefully acknowledge North Star Academy of Duluth, Minnesota as our inaugural partner school, and the flagship of our K-12 outreach program. We also warmly welcome Duluth East High School and Dodge Middle School to the North Star Project.

Under the leadership of our North Star host teachers and student interns, The North Star Project has flourished for two years. For a brief summary, please see a recent article in the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

https://www.historians.org/publications-and-directories/perspectives-on-history/january-2014/embracing-oa-universities-adopt-open-access-policies-for-faculty-journal-publications

Having re-tooled and re-designed the collaborative program, we are drawing on the experience of our veteran student interns, ideas from our host teachers, and new projects provided by our incoming student interns. This school year The Middle Ground Journal will share brief dispatches from our North Star Project student interns, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. As of the time of this report we have confirmed student interns who will be reporting from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing presentations on theatrical representations of historical trauma, historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and different perceptions of current events from around the world.  We will post their brief dispatches here, and report on their interactions with the North Star students and teachers throughout the school year.

Hong-Ming Liang, Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA, 2013-2014 School Year

(c) 2014 The Middle Ground Journal, Number 8, Spring, 2014. See Submission Guidelines page for the journal’s not-for-profit educational open-access policy.

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Filed under North Star Student Editors, Pamela Hartley, Professor Hong-Ming Liang