Claire Ward - Teacher in Peru
Qualified History Teacher
Over 7 years teaching History to secondary school pupils.
Claire spent two months in Peru using her knowledge of teaching to help with heritage education at schools near the Inca trail in Huyro. This is what she had to say about the project:
"My experience in Peru is one that will stay with me for the rest of my life as, I hope, will many of the friendships I made there - I would thoroughly recommend it."
The Project Partner
Claire worked at various schools in Huyro alongside local teachers. She was supported by Tim DeWinter who has developed a partnership with the Peruvian Ministry of Education to help with heritage education in schools. With Tim’s help, Claire was able to hold active workshops with students to recreate problems faced by their Incan ancestors. Tim also has an agreement with COPESCO who are trying to encourage locals to become more aware of their heritage. Claire was able to get advice from Tim about working in schools. At the same time, she was able to use her experience to suggest new activities for workshops.
Claire's role at the schools included the following:
- Assisting with the development of a heritage education programme.
- Working with existing staff to produce a package of educational materials.
- Helping to present workshops in local schools involving the use of historical artifacts.
- Planning trips for local pupils so that they could see the historical sites of their ancestors.
Claire worked with staff who have taught in the local community for years. Over time, local schooling and the Heritage Education programme has provided the following benefits to the local community:
- Pupils now have access to a more engaging and inspiring way of learning about their local history.
- Local people are beginning to understand the importance of learning about their own culture and preserving it.
- The increased attention being paid to education will have a positive impact on the skills and employment prospects of young Peruvians in Huyro.
- Having a foreigner come to teach History is a novelty. This makes pupils take interest in their work and fosters a passion for learning.
“We were made to feel very welcome by the community in Huyro and were invited to several parties during the time I was there. The strangest and most fun one was definitely the celebration for St Martin’s day at the house of one of the primary school teachers. We arrived just in time to see the statue of St. Martin being danced back from the church to the shrine in front of which the party crowd gathered. We were welcomed and given seats in the shade, which I was incredibly grateful for, having forgotten to top up the repellent and sun cream before we left. The sand flies had a feast on my legs, but at least I avoided getting sunburnt as well!
The party began with the teacher, dressed in a pointy hat and with James I style facial hair painted on his face, lassoing one of the party goers who was dragged off to the chapel and emerged with a handkerchief pinned to his or her back and carrying a set of horns. They then tried to rip the clothes of the crowd while the singer of the band made an array of bull noises, until another victim was lassoed, dragged into the chapel, and the whole process was repeated again.
This was also my first experience of Peruvian dancing. Having spent much of my time in Ecuador declining salsa lessons, I thought I had got pretty good at the polite “thanks, but no thanks”. Unfortunately I was told that it was not acceptable to say no here. As the only gringa at the party I was pulled up to dance on a pretty regular basis and embarrassedly span and shuffled as best I could as the whole crowd looked on. Thankfully, as the party progressed, the dancing became a more communal effort!
Living and working so closely together in Peru means that volunteers become very close very quickly and we often spent our weekends together as well on excursions to Quillabamba, Urubamba or visiting Machu Picchu. We spent the Halloween weekend in Cusco- several people were leaving the project and the fancy dress farewell seemed fitting. With limited resources we struggled somewhat with costumes; however I think we did fairly well. We were joined by a Ninja, a gringa tourist, a pirate, a fairy, Zeus, the victim of a horrific murder, the devil and Death herself! Gathering on the Plaza de Armas we were in the unusual position of becoming a tourist attraction being photographed more than the buildings in one of South America’s most famous squares!”