Leaving the island during the summer is always a big deal for students living on Saipan. Many of them take advantage of the free time to return to their country of origin, which include places like Korea, Japan, China, and the Philippines. As always, traveling to any of these popular Asian destinations requires a lot of planning to ensure a space on crowded planes.
Saipan International School students who make up the group “Destino Peru” had a different plan. They too left the island for a four-week trip, but they packed their bags to visit a whole other continent: South America.
The 10 students, between grades nine and 10 went to Peru for 26 days. Their itinerary included five cities: Lima, Cuzco, Puno, Arequipa, and Nazca. They started their journey in the capital city and bustling metropolis of Lima, continued to river rafting and experienced zipline adventures in the valley of Lunahuana. Then they continued their journey to Cuzco, where the students trekked the Incan ruins of Ollantaytambo, Sacsayhuaman, and Machu Picchu, listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
In Puno, the students visited Lake Titicaca, the largest lake in all of South America and, at 12,500 feet above sea level, one of the highest in the world.
In Arequipa, the students ventured to Colca Canyon, one of the deepest in the world at a depth of 10,730 feet, where they had the opportunity to glimpse the endangered Andean condor in its natural habitat.
The students also got a chance to look at the mysterious Nazca drawings—a series of markings on the base of the desert that stretch over 80 miles and form different animal figures.
They closed their trip by sandboarding in the desert of Paracas.
It wasn’t all fun, though. The students also visited Peru’s Children’s Hospital, where they entertained the children and medical staff with the traditional Korean “Flower Dance” and many played songs with ukuleles. They also visited the Albergue Cottolengo where they worked with disabled individual’s ages 6 to 30. At the Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the SIS students helped prepare and serving the food for more than 120 elderly unprivileged people. The students also entertained them with various musical performances.
They also had the opportunity to attend the Andino Cusco International School of Austergate and the American School Prescott in Arequipa.
This is the eighth group from Saipan International School that have traveled to Peru. The school has always placed a strong emphasis on the importance of learning about different cultures, their traditions, peoples and languages. With knowledge comes appreciation and respect of these cultures, which is a vital part of Saipan International School’s philosophy.
Destino Peru, founded by Mili Saiki in 2005, is a language immersion opportunity for upperclassmen taking Spanish. Since then, the trip has evolved, shifting its focus from language-learning to the exploration of the cultural, historical, natural, and economic reality of Peru. The result is a learning adventure that also inculcates responsible traveling. Over the years, visiting students have given their time and energy to a number of community programs and service providers, including children’s hospitals, orphanages, and nursing homes.
More than 200 students from SIS have already visited Peru under the program. (PR)