This description has lots of details, if you're interested - but if you're short on time, just read the first paragraph of each section!
This 3-credit University-transfer course, entitled Indigenous Land Rights and Legal Pluralism, runs from July 3rd to 21st, 2017. The course investigates concepts of cultural and legal pluralism, policies applied to indigenous peoples throughout the history of the Americas, and globalization and contemporary issues of indigenous peoples in Latin America.
The program consists of two weeks of intensive classroom learning in Lima, followed by a trip to the Amazon rainforest to meet with an Indigenous group who, when their land was threatened by mining interests, won the first case before the Constitutional Court of Peru that recognizes the rights of self-determination, territory and autonomy.
Here's a link for more info!
What This Program Means To Me
In September 2016 I went 'back to school' as a full-time student at Douglas College. I've worked hard and done well, and next year I'm transferring to UBC to pursue a degree in Anthropology and Linguistics. I believe this trip would greatly enhance my education - as an Anthropologist and a human being!
I've long been fascinated by Peru and its role in history: as the cradle of civilization in South America over 5000 years ago, and later the home of the Inca, the largest pre-colonial civilization in the Americas. As a student of Anthropology, I see Peru as an amazing representation of the diversity of today's world: residents of bustling mega-cities (greater Lima's population is over 10 Million people!) share a flag with more than a dozen of the world's remaining 'Uncontacted' indigenous peoples. Nearly half of this country identify as indigenous, another 30% Mestizo (analogous to our Metis), and large African, Caribbean, and Asian populations contribute to a remarkably diverse society - still grappling with 400 years of European colonialism. I believe visiting places that are new and different, and meeting people with different lives and histories, is an invaluable education for anyone; but especially for an Anthropology student, and especially in Peru, this opportunity is truly priceless!
I'm also a recovering addict and an adult living with Major Depressive Disorder and ADHD. I spent much of my twenties and early thirties going in circles, convinced I could never live the kind of ambitious life I had envisioned as a child. In 2013, at the age of 34, I was finally ready to get clean and allow hope back in. The past four years have been a journey of re-building love for myself; of re-connecting with the belief that I CAN live much more than the grey life I had resigned myself to. Last year I found the courage to take a leap and return to school, and for the first time in decades, I feel like I'm on the right path, of giving life everything I've got! Just submitting the application for this program - being willing to even dream I could do something like this, and just give it a try - was a huge success for me. To actually go on the trip? Well, that would be the ultimate proof that even the biggest dreams CAN come true!
In March, I ordered transcripts of my grades, wrote an essay entitled "Who Chooses Peru As a Study-Abroad Destination?", and sent them off to PUCP to apply for one of two scholarships that cover half the cost of their field-school program.
Applying for this field school was easily the most ambitious thing I have ever done. It was difficult - not only for a person with ADHD to jump through the many hoops toward a complete application, but for someone with chronic Depression and years of history in active addiction to push past the old self-doubt and fear of success that still want to hold me back.
But I pushed through and did it, then let go of what the outcome might be. And on May 19th, 2017...... I was selected as a scholarship winner!
One of the strongest caveats I had about applying was always the nagging thought: "what about the money"? I knew I could never afford an international trip, scholarship or not. I live on student loans, scholarships*, and occasional part-time work, and that barely covers my tuition and living expenses. (*And believe me, scholarships are a lot fewer, and smaller, if you're not coming straight from High School - even with a 4.2 GPA.)
For a long time I just assumed I wasn't actually going to GO on the trip, and just focused on the application as a victory in itself, But as I told family and friends about that victory, over and over again they told me not to sell myself short without at least TRYING to actually go!
Finally, enough people said "I'd love to chip in - you should start a GoFundMe!" that I decided okay, I'll give it a shot!
The program cost is $3000 US, and it includes the 3-credit University course, room and board, and the trip into the rainforest. The scholarship covers half of that cost, leaving $1500 US, or close to $2000 Canadian.
Balance of program cost: $2000
Return flight to Lima: $1500
Total campaign goal: $3500
I will penny-pinch on my own for walking-around money - and I probably won't need very much, as the Canadian Dollar has pretty good purchasing power against the Peruvian Sol.
Being able to go on this trip would be an incredible gift. I am BEYOND grateful to those of you who have supported and encouraged me in this, as well as those who have even offered to contribute financially. I greatly value and respect generosity, and would be just incredibly grateful for any help you can give.
That said... friends who are just as broke as I am: THIS IS NOT FOR YOU! I am privileged enough to know quite a few people who are NOT struggling to pay their basic living expenses. This campaign is for them. Keep your money. Treat yourself to Starbucks every once in a while . A trip to Peru is not a need. If you really want to help, share this campaign with the people in your circle who have more to give - and you'll have my eternal gratitude!
PS: A Few Thoughts on Needs, Wants, and Value
(aka some philosophical rambling, for those who are into that kind of thing)
Yup, this trip is very clearly a want, not a need. I have an amazing, rewarding life, and live at a far greater level of privilege than much of the world.
And yet! Yes, I do actually believe that sending a middle-class white girl to a fun international summer-school is a valid expenditure of money. Because it would help that white girl learn, and grow; it would increase her perspective on and appreciation of her own privilege; most of all it would help her grow her courage and her faith. Her ability to believe great things are possible. It would increase the chances she might accomplish great things - for herself and for others - in the future. I believe that the more each of us grows and fully engages in life, the more we have to give; and so the ultimate way I can make the world a better place is to make MYSELF a better person, (and keep giving what I can as my capacity increases).
Call it... trickle-down philanthropy, if you like. And I think it does (unlike trickle-down economics) actually work, because (unlike economics) it has morality at its core. I believe my reason for existing as a human is to contribute whatever I can to the wellbeing of all people, and you have my commitment to take whatever personal capital you invest in me and not only multiply it, but return it out into the world.
That said, the need for actual DIRECT philanthropy in this world is much greater. Again: this trip is very clearly a want, not a need. Please, give to those who need help before you give to me. Donate to NGOs that make a difference around the world. Buy a sandwich for the man outside the 7-11. Support the GoFundMe for the bereaved family to hold a memorial, or the person with medical bills, or whose pet will die without expensive vet care, or who can't afford reconstructive surgery after a mastectomy . THEN donate to sending me to Peru.
On the other hand, if you're thinking "fundraising for an education trip? I mean, maybe if you were volunteering....":
I humbly submit that a) there are many good ways to volunteer for free, and b) if you want to spend money to help people in some far-away country, there are far more efficient ways to do so than sending over an unskilled Westerner for a month. No, when you donate to a 'volunteer trip' you are paying for the personal experience and growth of the person you're sending - a worthy investment, to be sure! And absolutely the same investment you'd make by sending me to Peru. :-)
- Janet Fischer
- Steve Campbell
- Amber Wilson
- Tammy Ray
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