Wellesley Students Use Community Service Travel Grants in Peru To Help Poorest Children

For immediate release:
May 1, 2008

Contact: Arlie Corday, acorday@wellesley.edu

WELLESLEY, Mass. -- Community Service Travel Grants are offered by Wellesley College’s Center for Work and Service on a continuing basis throughout the academic year to fund community service projects during Wintersession, spring break and summer vacation. This spring break, 35 Wellesley students received grants of up to $1,000 to travel to Israel, Ecuador and Peru, as well as Miami and West Palm Beach, Fla., and New Orleans.

Juniors Sara Dickhaus of Bayville, N.J., Julia Schroeder of Fulton, N.Y., and Kelly Jauregui of Union City, N.J., used the grants to travel to Huancayo, one of the poorest areas of Peru, located in the Andes Mountains. They joined the Tinkuy Peru program, founded and directed by Tino Leoncio, a world-famous weaver and artisan. Tino has been awarded with Peru's highest arts honor, the Amauta Title, distinguishing him as the wisest and most skilled living person in his craft. He has taken trips to the United States with NOVICA (a division of National Geographic) to teach his technique. Since 2003, Tino and his family have dedicated themselves to educating the community, particularly by teaching English at the Mountain School, a school they founded from private donations and personal funds.

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At the Mountain School (Sara Dickhaus, left,
Julia Schroeder, center)

Sara Dickhaus, Kelly Juaregui, Julia Schroeder Class of 2009

Students at a public school in Huancayo
(Sara Dickhaus, center)

“When we decided to apply for the grant we were hoping to spend our spring break volunteering as much as we could and practicing Spanish. I had no idea how much more I would gain,” says Dickhaus.

The three Wellesley students lived with Tino, his wife, two daughters and extended family. They taught at a local public school and the Mountain School in a very poor region of Huancayo located on a mountainside. Most of the local families live in improvised housing without electricity, gas, water or sanitation, and the children do not attend regular public school. The Mountain School is organized by Tino and his family for students in the area and consists of three to four classes separated by age and level. Student ages range from about 5 to 14 years old, including those with no prior understanding of English and more advanced beginners.

Between classes and in the evenings, Tino and his wife, Mari, took the time to lead the Wellesley students on hikes and excursions to nearby villages and markets. He also introduced them to fellow artisans to gain a better understanding of Peru’s rich culture.

 “One of my favorite trips was to Ingenio,” Schroeder says. “We ate trout caught right before our eyes at a 400-year-old mill. It was breath-taking.”

The students sampled traditional Peruvian food including pachamanca (meat, potatoes and tamales smoked underground) and ceviche (trout perpared raw, covered in lemon) and enjoyed music by a band comprised of friends of Tino’s family.

“This experience definitely helped me become more aware of inequality, the importance of education, and the impact that nonprofit organizations and individuals can have on their communities,” says Dickhaus. “Mi corazón se quedó en los Andes de Peru (My heart remains in the Peruvian Andes).”

After graduation, Kelly Jauregui plans on working for Teach for America and pursuing a career in law, Julia Schroeder plans to work with international refugees and Sara Dickhaus is preparing to work in business and politics in a Spanish-speaking country.

To learn more about Tinkuy Peru, go to www.tinkuyperu.com or contact Tino Leoncio at leonciotinoco@hotmail.com.

Since 1875, Wellesley College has been a leader in providing an excellent liberal arts education for women who will make a difference in the world. Its 500-acre campus near Boston is home to 2,300 undergraduate students from all 50 states and 68 countries.