Minot State University Spanish instructor Kemerly Moorhouse led nine students to Peru this summer for a Spanish language immersion program.
The group included Valley City State University students Kathrin Oakes, Nicholas Faure and Oluwatoyin Oladosu along with MSU students Rachel May, Marlee Schmidt, Brandon Domonoske, Elysha Blikre and Olivia Christenson. MSU faculty member Linda Olson, who has been learning Spanish too, joined the program.
According to Olson, the group of 10 began their adventure in Lima, Peru, on May 25 and met the host families with whom they lived during the five week stay. The students enrolled in a six-credit MSU Spanish course, "Language and Culture in Peru." Classes consisted of grammar and conversation exercises. The students said they learned a lot. Olson said her host family didn't speak English, so she had to use her Spanish to communicate and improved her conversational Spanish quite a bit.
Submitted Photo - - Students and faculty, from left: Tour leader Kemerly Moorhouse, MSU faculty member Linda Olson and Nicholas Faure, Brandon Domonoske, Marlee Schmidt, Olivia Christenson, Elysha Blikre, Rachel May, Oluwatoyin Oladosu and Kathrin Oaks at Caral, the site of the earliest known continuously settled city in the Americas, dating to nearly 2650 B.C.
During the week, the afternoons and evenings were reserved for cultural activities. Over weekends, the students traveled to famous places such as Caral, Ica, Cusco, the Nazca Lines and the recently named New Wonder of the World: Machu Picchu.
Olson said that Lima, located on the central coast of Peru, holds a strong tie to its history and culture. The group attended the Baile Folklorico, or Folk Dance show, walked on the beaches, took in the nightlife, toured the Bohemian district in Barranco, and ate in a restaurant. Olson described a walk through the streets and squares of historic Lima Centro as a "step back in time."
Olson particularly enjoyed seeing Peruvian art. She plans to use some of the photos she took in her art classes this year.
Minot State University has a number of faculty-led study tours, which Minot community members can participate in. People who are interested in taking a tour should call the Office of International Programs at MSU for more information.
Among the sites the study tour visited was the Parque de Las Fuentes during the city tour of Lima. The Magic Circus of Water is a park with many fountains in Lima. The fountains are interactive and a source of much fun for Lima residents and other tourists. The program included a large multimedia presentation highlighting Peru's cultural background projected on a large water fountain.
The group also visited Caral, which together with the related sites in the Supe Valley, is the site of the earliest known continuously settled city in the Americas, dating to nearly 2650 B.C., and predating other ancient civilizations in the Americas.
Caral is located 14 miles from the coastline and has large platform mounds and a huge plaza amphitheater. Caral's architecture suggests a stratified society with a priestly class living on the higher ground and lower classes in dwellings that surrounded the temples. The people of Caral had no ceramics and no organized writing system, instead keeping their records with quipu, which were string artifacts using knots for keeping records.
Another of the weekend excursions was to Ica, Paracus and Nazca. Olson said the overflight to view the Nazca lines was dizzying. The Nazca culture created huge drawings in the desert floor by removing a layer of dark colored rock to reveal the lighter colored rock beneath.
Another favorite spot of the visit was to Cusco. Cusco is at 11,150 feet above sea level. Visitors to Cusco need to take time to rest and get used to the altitude.
The city, designed in the shape of the puma, which was sacred to the Incans who built it, was considered the navel of the Incan world.
Cusco was the capital of the realm of the Incan kings and contained a temple dedicated to the worship of the sun god. In one room it contained the statues of gods from all the peoples under the Incan rule. This cemented their loyalty and allowed the Incan rulers to remain supreme.
Early records from the Spanish conquistadores tell of this sun temple clothed in gold, although what remains today is a bare reminder of the former splendor. The conquistadores and priests destroyed what they found and used the carved stones from the temple to build Christian churches over remains of the temples. The Santo Domingo, a Baroque cathedral, sits atop the former sun temple.
The group also toured the Sacred Valley in Peru. The valley housed an important Incan road in prehistory. The study group's tour included a visit to the Incan ruins and the market at Pisac. The tour began with a stop above the valley in Pisac.
Olson said that Pisac's stonework and panoramas are extraordinary for the view of the valley terracing below. Water ducts, stone steps and walls have been cut from solid rock. Olson said the Sun Temple at this site is magnificent and rivals the temples at Macchu Pichu. After visiting the site, the group toured the Indian Market in Pisac. Olson said one of the other students on the tour said, "This is so beautiful. I feel like I am in Narnia!"
Continuing on, the group arrived at Ollantaytambo late in the afternoon but in time to climb the Incan ruins and board the train for Agua Caliente, at the base of Machu Picchu, or Old Mountain. The group's Quechan guide, Aquino, met them at the train station and took them to their motel. The next morning at 3 a.m., the group found themselves in line to be the first on the buses to earn a spot to climb Wayna Picchu, or Young Mountain. Olson said the long wait and climb to the top was well worth it and they got a great view of the site.
The group also attended a celebration of Inti Raymi, observed annually on June 24 in Cusco. Incans held this ceremony, the most important festival of the Incan empire, on June 21, the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere. The sun festival is a re-enactment of the ceremony performed to honor the sun god of the Inca. The ceremony begins with a parade from the Korcancha to Sacaywaman. A chosen representative of the Incan kings is carried on a litter through the streets, with his consort, and litters carrying animals sacred to different parts of the Incan empire a snake, a condor, and a puma. Another litter carries a mummy.
Representatives from the different departments dance and report to the Incan king, making offerings of goods from their region. Olson said the pageantry and dancing is elaborate and continues for many hours. After the offerings and sacrifice divining the outcome of the next year, the Incan makes a speech to his people and the ceremony ends.
The group will make a public presentation about their trip to Peru on Jan. 23 in the Harold Aleshire Theater at MSU.