This Intercultural Study Tour to Peru from May 27 to June 8, 2015 is specifically to the south highlands and south coast of this intriguing country. The objective of this program is to immerse students in the archaeology, history, and contemporary realities of the Central Andean region. Students will develop a deeper understanding of the many different forces and events that have shaped the cultures and societies of Peru, both ancient and modern, and an enhanced global perspective.

The study tour is led by Dr. Helaine Silverman (Department of Anthropology), an archaeologist with thirty years of research and living experience in Peru. Dr. Silverman has conducted archaeological-ethnographic work in Cusco, in which she studied the impact of tourism on the lives of Cusco's residents and on the city's urban configuration. Julie Woolsey (Assistant Director, CHP) is also accompanying the group as the program coordinator for logistics of the study tour. Kim Graber (CHP Director) is also participating in the ICST.

Applications: Due February 16th, as a hard copy, to the CHP office. The application is available on the "Participants" page.

Highlights of the program include:
  • “Time-machine” travel through Cusco, the former capital of the Inca Empire and modern tourist destination.
  • Explore impressive archaeological sites, including Machu Picchu.
  • Experience a breathtaking train ride in the high plateau of the Andes.
  • Visit a traditional community of weavers, and appreciate how global tourism allows these indigenous people to negotiate their own identity(ies) in customary and modern forms.
  • Tour a Colonial Period convent where, although cloistered, the social, economic and racial hierarchies of the secular world were replicated.
  • Marvel at ancient solutions to environmental challenge amid the desolate beauty of Peru’s Pacific Coast, where in one cove (Puerto Inca/Quebrada de la Vaca) the Incas established an outpost to exploit the rich marine resources (thereby providing the emperor in the highland capital with fresh fish), and where the poor soil was enriched with guano agricultural production.
  • Enjoy breathtaking desert scenery of the south coast.
  • Tour the famous pilgrimage and oracular shrine of Pachacamac.
  • End this exciting trip in Miraflores, the most delightful district of Lima, with vernacular and ultra-modern architecture, fabulous restaurants for every budget, and great shopping.

Flight Details
Leaving Chicago O'Hare on May 27 and returning on June 8.

We will be staying in a range of places, from tourist hotels to small-town hostels and pensions. Accommodations will be simple but clean and comfortable. Bathrooms may be down the hall; students will generally double up in rooms.

Medical care
Students were required to provide documentation of their fitness for travel, especially at high altitudes, either through a group McKinley Health Center medical consultation or through other arrangements with a physician or nurse. The Study Abroad Office provides medical insurance.

Pre-departure meetings
Students on the ICST attended several evening sessions with Professor Silverman, to gain historical and cultural background and to prepare for this adventure.

Students will be required to keep a journal of 1-2 pages per day during the trip. If a copy of the journal is not provided to the CHP upon return, a 5 page reflective essay may be submitted instead; the CHP will excerpt portions of submitted materials.

Other important matters to consider:

  • We will be moving rapidly throughout the trip, sometimes through a wide range of temperatures and altitudes (from sea level to 14,000 feet). Many people react to the high altitude of Cusco and Puno, suffering from “sorroche” or altitude sickness (headache, shortness of breath, rarely nausea). Usually, these symptoms pass in 24 hours, though physical activity (walking up and down the hilly streets and clambering over ruins) can be somewhat stressful. Please note the application process requires students to participate in a group medical travel consultation with McKinley Health Center or like documentation.
  • Peru can seem chaotic for U.S. travelers. You will need to have patience. Airlines often don’t fly on schedule. Restaurants, museums, archaeological site offices, and other facilities rarely can make change, even of small bills. Ambulatory hawkers of postcards, CDs, sweaters, and the like can overwhelm tourists and be a nuisance.
  • Students with dietary restrictions or serious allergies can find the food options limiting or risky.
  • Even so, this is one of the most beautiful countries in the world in terms of natural features and the architectural patrimony. Many Peruvians, especially in Cusco, are very positively disposed toward tourists and eager to interact (often to practice their limited English). Peruvian food is inexpensive and fantastic. The handicrafts are unsurpassed. And Peru’s history is so dramatic that novels and film have often appropriated it, most recently in the novel Bel Canto, and the movie, The Dancer Upstairs, not to mention frequent references to Peru in literature and film as a “land of mystery.”
  • Specific information about passports, money exchange, inoculations, health tips, luggage and what to pack, cameras, food, free time, conduct, etc. will be provided to students selected for the program, along with a suggested pre-trip reading list.