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Above, from left (back row) are Matthew Luz ’17, Anthony Corbett ’18, Anika Pommers-Dear ’17, Gillian Russo ’17 and Lara Dudley ’19. From left (front row), are Nicolas Colon ’17, Sabrina Superneau-Gilman ’18 and Diana Faulkner ’17. Below, at lunch on Isla Taquile in Lake Titicaca (from left front) are Corbett, Superneau-Gilman, Margaret Huang and Faulkner, and (from right front) Luz, Sarah Pudney ’18, Edith Sherburne ’18 and Samantha Giffen ’18.

Students Travel to Peru over Spring Break


When Dr. David Cupery surveyed MCLA students last year to find out where they might want to travel over spring break, many of them expressed a great deal of excitement at the thought of visiting Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, and other Peruvian destinations.

That, along with Cupery’s familiarity with Peru from his travel there, recently resulted in a trip of a lifetime for 13 MCLA students.

Anika Pommers-Dear ’17 got her first passport at 5 months old, but she’d never been to South America, and was eager to add a new continent to her nearly complete world travel list.

“Seeing Machu Picchu and hiking on trails carved by the Incas was a long-time dream. It absolutely lived up to the hype. I was blown away by the simple beauty and incredible precision of Incan architecture,” she said.

The best part, according to Pommer-Dear, was her first view of Machu Picchu after a rigorous, up-hill hike from Aguas Calientes that began at 4:15 a.m.

“I’d seen countless pictures and videos of the ancient ruins. Seeing them in person felt like stepping on to the pages of a National Geographic magazine. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to share feelings of awe and exhaustion with, against the backdrop of the Andes,” Pommers-Dear said.

Of Machu Picchu, Edith Sherburne ’18 of Saugerties, N.Y., added: “I arrived there at 6:30 a.m. with two of my very best friends, and the clouds and fog were literally rolling off of the mountains around me. Then, what seemed to be all at once, the ruins appeared below me, and I was breathless.”

Michael McAndrew ’18 of Holyoke, Mass., particularly enjoyed visiting Lima, Peru: “I have never lived in a very big city, so it was interesting to finally be in one. Lima is particularly interesting because it is a fast-growing city with a lot of energy.”

A highlight for Nicolas Colon ’17 of the Bronx/Harlem, N.Y., was the opportunity to see some native dance performances.

“They wore clothing of all their ancestors, as well as all the different variations of their people in different parts of Peru. Each song and dance had a different meaning and rhythm. Each was moving to watch,” he said.

The trip also featured a two-day, one-night trip to the islands of Lake Titicaca – home to indigenous people with unique cultural characteristics, who have experienced minimal change in the face of global technological and cultural revolutions, Cupery explained.

To learn about their way of life, students visited three different islands and spent the night and ate three meals with a host family.

“Travel courses are great for educational development that builds an understanding of foreign cultures and contexts and empathy for different ways of living, challenges and opportunities,” Cupery said.

“The combination of classroom sessions and travel allow students to enter the country with foundational knowledge of the places they will visit, while the face-to-face experiences with the subject matter help the material come alive.”