|By D Magnuson (17net-campusnet-nat-4.luther.edu - 188.8.131.52) on Wednesday, May 31, 2006 - 9:52 pm: Edit Post|
I had the very good fortune to be a part of Peru-III from Sept 63 to June 6. Although we were supposed to teach in regional universities, there were numerous political upheavals which caused at least a fourth of our group to be placed elsewhere. There were 5 or 6 of us who wound up getting assigned to the newly created (Alianza para el progreso program of the Kennedy-Johnson years) Peruvian National Federation of Credit Unions (credit coops). We were auditors and field men who would travel throughout the country and do audits and/or help beginning credit unions set up their operations.
Although a bit disappointed at first that we wouldn't be teaching, I think that most of us realized in the end that we were given a super opportunity to know Peru like few Peruvians ever get to know it. In most cases, the credit union volunteers would either work with a Peruvian coop auditor in the major cities of the country, or, as in my case, I would define an area and work with the coops there, returning a time or two to make sure that things were going well.
As a result of my experiences, I got into many of the remote corners of the country and was able to boost both my language proficiency and expand my understanding of major aspects of Peruvian geography and society.
Having entered the Corps torn between pursuing career options in business administration and language (with just about ZERO proficiency in spite of an old fashioned near-major in Spanish, one heavily based on translation and grammar), I found that my Peruvian experience was just what I needed to make the decision to return home and pursue graduate study in the language. That would ultimately lead me to a 37 year career teaching Spanish in a small liberal arts college (just retired, May 2006). Many are the times that I reminded my students that without that experience, I would never have entered the classroom, especially to teach the language.
One of the supreme joys of my teaching has been to lead 19 January term courses in Latin America, including 4 of them back to Peru since 2001. (I will return again in Jan 2007 to mentor a new colleague, hoping that our college will ultimately establish a long-term relationship with our Peruvian colleagues.)
Many, many are the lessons of my Peru years that have provided me with classroom material that has enriched the students that have been in my classes and enlighten community members who have come to know me.
One of the pleasant consequences of my vounteer experience was seeing my son join the PC, leading him to spend 2+ years in Honduras. It was great to visit him there and compare how the Corps had changed and see the similarities and differences between Honduras and Peru.
I also want to highlight the fact that just in the last couple of years, I have been reacquainted with a couple of PVCs from Peru-IV (overlapped our group for about a year) who also worked in credit union auditing. Now in my retirement, I am hoping that we might get together (they have already done so with a couple of other PCVs that they worked with) and share the impact of the Peruvian experience on our lives and the seeds that have been sown for future growth.
That's it from here. If you know of anyone who worked in Peru from 1963-66, please extend my greetings and invite them to contact me if they are as curious as I am to know how the PC impacted them. I am always envious of a fellow grad student who was a PCV in Bolivia and has maintained very close ties to his group over many years.