Saturday, June 25, 2011

How strange it is to be anything at all.

I went to Centro Educativo Basica Especial Carlos A. Mannucci, a school for children, adolescents and young adults with mental disabilities.  The principal and students welcomed our NAU group with open arms, literally.  We got a tour of the school which was divided into classrooms according to age groups. The first room was for children who were not of school age yet, anywhere from 1 to 4 years of age.  This section provided the children diagnosed at an early age with the initial stimulation in order to improve basic gross motor functions and communication.  The next several classrooms had about 15 students each with only two teachers.  The children were delighted to see us and approached us to hug us and introduce them.  The teachers also seemed really happy that we were there to help.  I cannot imagine how hard it is for them to keep order and teach at the same time.  They were thrilled to have the extra hands.  Children with mental disabilities require much more attention than normal children.  It is in the best interest of their development that they receive one on one attention.  Unfortunately this doesn’t always happen.  The last two classrooms were for young adults who were receiving training in order to be placed in jobs.  Some of them painted and made things to sell in order to pay for their tuition.  They also participated in recreational activities such as dancing, choir and drama classes.  One boy showed me a picture of a Christmas play he had been in the previous year and another picture in which he was dressed up as a wizard.  They showed us how to dance the Marinera, a traditional Peruvian dance.  A mother came in with her daughter, it was her first time there and when she saw us she was overwhelmed and started crying.  She was so happy that we were taking an interest in her daughter, who was yet to be diagnosed but was 7 years old and could not walk nor speak.  Our professor did some basic tests on her daughter to see where she was at and what we could do to help.  Surprisingly, the teachers had not been formally trained in psychology except for one woman who was a student at the municipal university.  Still, they did their best and helped the students substantially.  We extended our resources to them offering them advice so that they could find different ways of treating the children and improving their programs. 
I am so glad that we went, these children deserve so much love and attention and I know that if they had more resources and funding the school will be able to treat the children more effectively.  By adopting a few new techniques they will be able help the children and young adults reach their full potential.  When I sat down in a classroom and talked to the kids I realized how much we could help them.  One boy insisted on combing my hair.  Another built towers out of legos and every time I showed any of them attention they got really excited.  It was so much fun watching them draw and cut out vegetables and fruits.   It was really sweet to be around kids that were so genuine and happy. I can’t wait to go back.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Rich and the Poor

I've noticed that the people in this country live quite near to all of their ancient ruins.  Some of the poorest neighboorhoods are within walking distance of many archeological sites.  I wonder if there are ruins underneath them.  Maybe one day they will be completely forgotten or possibly destroyed forever.

This picture was taken in the town of Lamayeque

Within the hotel at Del PilarMiraflores, I could hardly tell I was in Peru. It was located in the center of Miraflores, a posh, european style area with many American chains such as McDonalds and Starbucks.

Monday, June 13, 2011


Parque de las Leyendas, Lima, Peru
I have mixed feelings about going to the zoo.  I love learning about animals but seeing them in cages makes me worried and depressed. It's not right to put an animal in an unnatural environment without it gaining any benefit.  I will support organizations that capture animals in order to help their species procreate if they are endangered because in this case the benefits outweigh the adversive effects of nonaction.  The practice of holding animals in zoos although ancient has never shown to benefit animals in any other sense.  In fact some animals revert to obessive behaviors not normally seen in the wild as a result of their captivity.  Isn't there other ways we can expand our knowledge about animals without subjecting them to exploitation?

Cross-Cultural Psychology

The last few days have been quite hectic.  On Tuesday night I went out dancing with the girls from the the class.  It was really fun.  It's certainly different than going out in the U.S.  Besides the music being more hispanic I noticed that women here do not dance together like they do back home.  In fact we were the only girls who danced without a partner.  This could be because of the more stringent gender roles.  It's common to see couples around Peru holding hands and being quite intimate in public but aside from this Peru is also a more masculine country according to Hofsteade's dimensions.  On the right is a graph showing the data from Peru taken from a massive study done in the 70's.  MAS refers to the level of Masculinity, this can be defined as in difference in values among genders.
      PDI symbolizes power distance.  Power distance is the degree to which the lower class accepts the ruling of the higher class.  This is quite interesting because as you can see Peru scores moderately high on power distance.  When I first got to Peru the presidential elections were taking place.  Many of the people I talked to seemed to dislike the extreme divide between rich and poor.  On our trip to the Pachacamac ruins we saw entire neighborhoods made of shacks.  On the contary, the Miraflores part of Lima is very western and spanish influenced.  There was even a Starbucks around the corner from our hotel, yet outside these places you see children begging for money. 
     IDV refers to the level of individualism which is very low in Peru.  This means that Peru is a collectivistic culture.  This is characteristic of other South American cultures as well.  In individualistic cultures the person is independent and the self is emphasized.  In collectivist cultures the self is defined by relationships in order to form an interdependent self idenity.  In this case the group emphasized.
    UAI refers to uncertainty avoidance which is really high in Peru according to the study.  Uncertainty avoidance is a culture's tolerance for uncertainity and ambiguity.  This means that the people of Peru desire stability and not surprisingly so are looking for stricter laws and harsher punishments.
It should also be noted that most of the population in Peru is Catholic so these religious view have a strong influence on the countries on government and economic system.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


The first day in Lima, Peru I went to an open market.  There I found a medicine woman who sold many herbs for all kinds of remedies.  They were suppose to cure digestive, psychological, endocrine and sexual problems.

The medicine woman charged 5 soles to read my fortune with coca leaves.  She opened a curtain that led to a room in the back of her booth. There she had a shrine with what looked like a Peruvian version of the Virgen Mary.  We sat down in front of the shrine and she took a bundle of coca leaves and told me to breathe into them.  She took these leaves and did a series of gestures and finally she rang a bell.  At this point she let the leaves drop one by one onto a mat infront of the shrine.  "Muy bien," she said "muy bien."  She said I was healthy, and then she took three leaves out of the pile and asked if I felt nervous a lot.  I answered yes and she said I probably had "susto" She recommended that I got a cleansing with an egg or a guinea pig.  Then, she said I could ask three questions.  First I asked if I was going to do good in my career.  "You will finish." she replied.  Next I asked if the person I am with is the one.  "Yes," she said, "you will get married."  Lastly I asked how many kids I will have. "Two." she said with certainty.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Laughing Hysterically

Dozed off to sleep this afternoon and astroprojected. Not really, but it felt as if I could come out of my body out of my own volition. I walked around the hotel room and laughed because it felt euphoric to dance and jump around without gravity to hold me down. I thought of something new to dream about and I saw it instantly. I thought, I'm outside in Peru and I was outside in Peru, I thought its night time and it was night time. I thought about Austin and he was there in Peru and felt his presence, though we didn't talk we communicated as naturally as we did in waking life. I was laughing so hard I thought my roommate could hear me through my dream. I also felt like I could stay in the dream world forever. I wanted to stay there but then I also knew that I had to wake up and read B.F. Skinner for class. So I tried to wake myself up. I moved my fingers, my hands, my arms, toes, feet, nothing worked. I rolled around hoping that falling out of bed would make me wake up. When I attempted to move my body would not follow me, it was left behind and I would end up on the floor next to my bed laughing hysterically. I must have entered a different stage of sleep because after this everything went blank for a while and then I woke up. I asked my roommate if she had noticed me doing anything strange while sleeping and she said no

Life is but a dream.