One of the activities included in my program here in Perú was visits to a Peruvian high school. I was excited for this opportunity because I wanted to learn about Perú’s education system in comparison to that of The United States. Today marked my last visit to the high school, which I visited a total of four times. This school is surprisingly close to that apartment that I live in here. Ever since I got here I wondered what was behind a long wall that is across from my apartment building. On my first visit I was surprised that I had never figured out that it was a school. The entrance gates are about a 3 minute walk for me.
During my visits to the school I have had the pleasure of helping students ages 14-17 practice their English. On the first visit we had a “get-to-know-you” session where about 3 Americans talked with about 4 Peruvian students at a time. They typical questions were asked by both: What’s your name? How old are you? Where are you from? What level of school are you in? What do you want to be when you grow up? What places have you traveled? I was instantly surprised by how good the English of most of these students seemed to be. Of course there was the dominant speaker in every group, but their English was overall very good.
On the second and third visits I was given groups of about 4-5 students with whom I completed activities with. These activities required the students to compare and contrast specific aspects of Peruvian culture to American culture. In one group we discussed places to travel. It was neat to see which places the students chose as tourist destinations in Perú. They listed the places I have already visited as well as many more. Many girls in my group had visited Disney World in Floridea and thought that it was the main tourist destination in The United States. In another group I was given the topic of Education. It was interesting to see how different Peruvian schools are than American schools. I must add a disclaimer, I am discussing Peruvian schools in Lima. The school system outside of Lima is very different than in Lima. There are more opportunities and more access to knowledge in Lima. I saw two major differences between Peruvian schools in Lima and schools in the US. One of these differences was the number of public schools there in comparison to private schools. In Lima, public schools are not common because they are not as acceptable or nearly as good of an education as private schools. In The United States we take for granted the great public education system that we have compared to other countries. The other major difference was the emphasis put on learning a second language. In the US, students aren’t required to take a second language unless they plan to go to college. In Lima, private schools (as well as select public) teach students to be fluent in English. The school system is different in Lima than in the US and it was interesting to see these differences in action during my visits.
Today on my last visit to this school, the students prepared a special presentation for us. They had traditional culture presentations as well as table after table of traditional Peruvian food. Walking around and letting the students present for us as well as eating some good food was a sight to see. I have enjoyed being able to see the personalities of this age group in comparison to the students that I have met at the university. I felt that visiting this school was well worth the time and I wish I would have been able to visit it more!
|Me with some of the girls I worked with|