By Courtney Fowler, Staff Reporter

Children of Peru playing frisbee with Colleen Ward (photo courtesy of Colleen Ward)

Children of Peru playing frisbee with Colleen Ward (photo courtesy of Colleen Ward)

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?

For fourteen eager students anxiously awaiting their May 2015 travel course, the answer is Peru.

Now that the course is closed, students have officially begun preparing for the trip. “It’s never too early to start getting ready,” said sophomore Amber Hanson. “I’ve already researched where exactly we’re going and even used Google Earth to look at some of the sites.”

The course is broken up into three general phases while traveling around the beautiful country of Peru. Students have the chance to explore the urban city of Lima, spend time with families in the countryside village of Andahuaylas, and end their trip in the tourist town of Cusco.

“We will be spending approximately equivalent time in each of the three locations,” said Lucas Kellett, anthropology professor and trip leader. “This gives students the opportunity to really experience a profile of life in the Andes.”

In each city, students will be able to visit important museums, historical buildings, community schools, and archaeological sites including Pachacamac and Machu Picchu. Students also have the opportunity to try local cuisine, including guinea pig, and attend a baptism.

“I’m most looking forward to spending time with families in Andahuaylas,” said Hanson. “They live in clay houses without running water so it will be interesting to experience a culture so different from the United States.”

In Andahuaylas, students also have the opportunity to visit several Inca and pre-Inca sites. While staying with the families, students typically bring gifts and do a small service-learning project in the community.

Colleen Ward, a senior who took the course in 2013, enjoyed spending time in Andahuaylas the most. “When I picture Peru in my head, it’s this city,” she said. “It is in the highlands of Peru in the middle of the Andes Mountains and is absolutely beautiful.”

More than the beautiful cities and breathtaking archaeological sites, Kellett feels the most important part of the trip is watching students go outside their comfort zone. “My favorite part is to witness the awe that many UMF students experience on the first trip abroad to a very different part of the world,” he said. “Students gain an understanding that they are global citizens in a rapidly changing world.”

For many students going on the trip, this will in fact be their first time travelling abroad and experiencing a new culture. Each day, they are expected to write journal entries and document their experiences in Peru. While this is a part of the overall course work, it is also a wonderful way to be able to reflect on their travels.

“I would recommend this trip to anyone,” said Ward, as her eyes gleamed with remembrance. “Seeing the way people lived in Peru made me realize how lucky I am to live where I am. It was a great experience and I learned so much about the culture and myself.”

For Hanson, the wait to experience Peru is still three months away. “It can’t come soon enough!” she said. “I never wanted to travel before college, but now, I can’t wait.”