Issue 2 Amauta Spanish School Newsletter December 2005
  in this issue
  Welcome – Bienvenidos
  AMAUTA... bringing you more ways to study Spanish...
  Announcing… Amauta Kids Support
  Volunteer Project News
  Volunteer of the Month
  AMAUTA is growing...
  Amauta Chocolatada
  Student of the Month
  Amauta in Accion
  New Year in Peru
  Staff profiles
  Thinking of doing the Inca Trail while in Peru?
Welcome – Bienvenidos!

We hope that you enjoy our second ANNUAL newsletter, bringing you news of AMAUTA Spanish school over the past 12 months and our plans for the next year!  In 2006 we will celebrate our 10th birthday, and with these 10 years we bring you experience, excellence and innovation.

In addition to our ever-popular Spanish courses, this year we have added a variety of new programs, designed so that you can enjoy the best of Peruvian culture and fabulous adventure that this spectacular country offers.

2006 is going to bring lots of exciting new projects and we wish you the very best for this year, and hope you have a very happy Christmas.

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year!!

Best wishes!

César Rondón
Jose Berendse
General Directors
 AMAUTA ... bringing you more ways to study Spanish...
This year AMAUTA is offering a range of exciting new programs that are designed to complement your Spanish studies and also provide you with the opportunity to learn more about Peru.

Spanish & Trekking enables people to combine a week of Spanish classes with the famous Traditional Inca trail to Machu Picchu.  For those a little more adventurous, they can to take part in Spanish & Rockclimbing or Spanish & Paragliding, Spanish & Rafting… like the names suggest, these programs are for those who really want to get the most out of their holiday to Peru!

People who would like to learn more about Peru’s rich culture and the Spanish language can do so with the Peruvian Cultural Workshop which is a specially designed interactive course that gives the client the option of focusing on either traditional Peruvian weaving, or Peruvian music.

We have noticed a greater number of parents bringing their children to Peru over this summer season, and for this reason are introducing three exciting new packages… Spanish for Families, Spanish for Kids (7-12), and Spanish for Teens (13 – 19).  The Spanish for Families offers a custom designed package to suit every family while the Kids and Teens courses are operating during the European and US summer holidays

Peru is believed to be one of the most spiritual places on earth, and in our NEW Spirituality and Spanish program you can learn more about yourself, through meditation, ceremonial activities and rituals of the Andean world
AMAUTA is a small organisation, working “hands on”, and on the ground in Cusco. We specialise in this region and know the projects intimately. As Cusco is only a small city, in some ways “everyone knows everyone” and we are like a large family.

AMAUTA has recently introduced a kid’s support program (for young people between 6 and 16) whereby you can directly help young people.  Our special focus is education and health.

$ 40 a month is enough to pay for an English, computer or skills based course (such as carpentry or cooking), a swimming course, monthly tuition at a private school (where the education is much better) or a Karate or Tae Kwondo course.  How the child or teenager is assisted depends on their personal needs and interests.

The children that are targeted for the scholarships will be those who sell around the Plaza de Armas or engage in petty crime and participate in our AMAUTA en Accion Streetkids Project. Those who are eligible for medical assistance may come from any one of the projects where we place volunteers.

Did you feel a special connection with the Peruvian people while in Cusco? Would you like to continue to have an association with Peru when you go home?  Please contact us for more information about the Amauta Kids Support Project.

Jimena This is Jimena… she is a beautiful little girl of one year and 10 months old. A little shy at first, once she warms to you she has a big smile and likes to wave goodbye! She came to Amauta’s notice through one of our projects, when it was learnt that she wasn’t receiving enough nutrition. Now, her mother receives a plate of food from the Amauta kitchen each day and Jimena is blossoming! Would you like to sponsor a child like this? You can make all the difference!

Children at 'Señor de Huanca'
Children at 'Señor de Huanca'
“Señor de Huanca” is a project located in one of the poorer neighbourhoods of Cusco. Every afternoon children from this area of Cusco can go there to play or do their homework. Between 40 and 60 children aged from 2 to 16 visit “Señor de Huanca” daily. Many of them come from families with problems; this can be because their parents are separated, alcohol abuse by their parents, maltreatment or malnourishment.

Because the project is run by just two people, the psychologist Frida and teacher Gladys, Amauta Volunteers are of great help! They organize workshops like painting, sports and theatre.
Children at 'Señor de Huanca'
One volunteer, Marjolijn Vreeken., is making a newspaper with the children at the moment. Other volunteers teach English and help them with their homework. The activities offered at “Señor de Huanca” contrasts with the experiences that the children have at their homes, where they are often left by themselves, with the parents not home, they have no one and nothing to play with.

The project used to occasionally organise something for the children to eat. However, a volunteer - Iris Engels - generously left a fund at Amauta to make sure the children get a good meal at least once a week - the meal that they might not get at home!


Every newsletter we like to interview someone very special is currently volunteering in Cusco. We would like to introduce you to…

Danielle Jamison-Chalmers
Nationality: USA (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Length of stay in Peru: 3.5 months
Age: 23

1. What motivated you to volunteer in Cusco?
I just finished my undergraduate degree in art therapy and had done a lot of volunteer work around my practice in Boston, which was very rewarding as well as interesting. I had a desire to learn Spanish and to continue my volunteer work, so coming to Cusco and volunteering was a way of combining my background in art therapy with learning Spanish. Amauta was the only place that I found that offered a volunteer program for beginners in Spanish and had contacts with an array of hospitals that mentioned the use of art and seemed to encourage independence and new techniques within their programs.

2. What is your most memorable moment at work?
When I spoke to one of the patients and he responded. In the month and a half that I had been at the hospital I had never heard him speak, only shake his head yes and no sometimes. I noticed that some of the patients there only spoke Quechua so I asked my teacher for any phrases she knew and using my little notebook with these phrases I sat next to this particular patient and began asking him questions in Quechua. He not only answered but he also drew a coherent picture that day, where as the other days he would simply sit at the table with me and just hold all of the pencils in his hand, rarely touching them to the paper. Speaking the little Quechua that I knew was a great break through for me at the hospital. For the first time I was I was able to communicate through words with so many of the patients who had been distant before and for the first time the table was full, almost everyone was eager to draw and paint.

3. What does your work involve?
I have been working at a mental health center, mostly with patients who are at the center permanently and have been labelled as “mentally disabled” but I also work with others who are only there for a certain period of time whose conditions are less severe and generally involve emotional disturbances. There are three different groups, although there are many different diagnoses and conditions the patients are faced with, I generally work with one of the groups mentioned above but if there are many patients who are not involved in an activity I sit outside and work with anyone who wishes to draw or paint. The activities at the center are organized and set for the most part so generally the patients who join me are the ones who cannot or do not want to join an activity for any given reason. All the doors are locked in the centre, so through working with the patients outside, my goal was to demonstrate that I could sit outside and let the patients be free to create whatever they want, join when they want and
leave when they want and still maintaining some kind of order. However, it hasn’t necessarily made a great impact because the idea of what art is seems to be a bit different. I feel the doctors want the end result to be a coherent picture not scribbles or a mess of magnificent colors – so it’s hard for the people I work with to see that I am making progress.
Art therapy is about creating a bond through art, about helping the patients develop enough trust through this connection to feel confident enough to share their feelings or stories with me, either through words, colors, or pictures.

4. How do you think you have helped by your volunteer work?
I feel I have helped the patients to feel that they are cared about, that they have someone they can talk to and someone they can confide in –that they have a friend.

6. Any other comments?
I feel that it is very important to be aware of the cultural differences and respect these differences while at the same time finding a respectful balance between what you believe is right in your heart, what is right for the people you are there to help even if it goes against the beliefs of the center.

We are in the process of designing a new building close to our school in Calle Suecia. The new building is going to provide us more space and will offer students a fantastic view of Cusco.  Stay tuned!  We also have fabulous plans for new activities and a new building in Urubamba on recently purchased land.

Children in the community of Agua Buena
Children in the community of Agua Buena
A distinct aspect of Christmas in Peru is the “chocolatada” where better off people or organisations offer a bit of Christmas cheer to poor children or pensioners.  A chocolatada is often organised by churches, businesses or shops and are characterised by giving a cup of hot chocolate, some bread or biscocho (a sweet bread with dried fruits inside), some sweets or maybe a toy.

To read more about Christmas in Peru, please check out the website.

Nearly 100 children received a bit the Christmas spirit!
Nearly 100 children received a bit the Christmas spirit!
On Saturday, 17th December a number of Amauta staff and some foreign volunteers gave  their time and services to help with a chocolatada held in the community of Agua Buena, which is near the Cusco airport and on the outskirts of the city. The chocolatada was held in conjunction with a Christian organisation who provided the entertainment for the kids while Amauta provided the food and toys (little cars for boys and Barbie dolls for girls).
It was a very successful day, with nearly 100 children receiving a bit the Christmas spirit! There were some extra bags of goodies remaining – these were gratefully received at the Clinica Hogar San Juan de Dios and the Libertad Orphanage.
Every newsletter, we want to introduce you to some of our students that, for some reason, have become the Students of the Month. They could be the student with the most outstanding results but probably - and more likely - they will be Student of the Month for another reason. e.g. because they studied with us for a really long time and became "part of the furniture”. This month we would like to introduce you to...


Name: Anna Kronberg
Nationality: Swedish (Lund)
Length of stay in Peru: 6 weeks this time. I also came here for 14 days in October 2004.
Age: 72

I longed to go to Peru when I was 18 – but now I am lucky I can still do it. I will come back to Peru, maybe to Cajamarca, Chiclayo and the beaches, but also to Cusco because I have many friends here now and also to visit more hot springs! I will probably come back to Amauta to refresh my Spanish because they are really good at teaching at the pace you are at.

1.What has been the highlight of your stay in Peru?
My visit to Eco Amazonia Lodge in Puerto Maldonado – I went there for 3 days and two nights, but I wanted to stay longer! There were so many things to see – butterflies, tarantulas, snakes, monkeys, turtles, and crocodiles. The food was delicious too! We had to travel there 1. 5 hours by boat which was very exciting – the weather was almost perfect, not so hot and no rain.
My other highlight has been the hot springs – I love them. I went to the hot springs in Lares – it is a small town and you get there over a very bumpy and rough road. The biggest hotel in Lares – the Hotel Paradise – had two rooms! I also spent four hours soaking in the hot springs in Aguas Calientes – on the Saturday and the Sunday. Very lovely!

2. What was the most memorable part of your stay?
The most memorable part of my stay was going to Amantani Island in Lake Titicaca. Last year I went to Taquile and Uros, but this time we had more time and we stayed with a family who were very friendly. The kitchen was like 200 years ago in Sweden – and they made really delicious food. The food in Puno was also excellent – the bread was like in France! My cousin went up the hill in Amantani to see the sun go down, but I couldn’t - it was too far, but I woke up in the morning and saw the sun rise!

3.What did you enjoy most about your classes at AMAUTA?
So many things. Ana Maria because she is “divertida”. Elena because she has a big heart. Claudia because she has an open mind and is very helpful. Javier – I think he is new – but he is so friendly and he is good at teaching. They are all good! Sometimes they push me to learn, but I cannot learn as quickly as the younger people – I must repeat, repeat, repeat!

4.What recommendations do you have for other people coming to Peru?
You must be really open minded because it is so different – they are poor and have a lot of poverty. (Though it is not like India, of course) I think maybe it is because of the government that they are poor, I also think if people helped one another things would be better My recommendations:
a. Don’t give to beggars
b. Don’t get angry with the sellers. Say to them “Vaya con Dios” and be patient with them. They are only doing that job because they need to eat.
c. Maybe give pencils or toys to small children but never money.

5.What do you consider is a MUST DO activity in Cusco?
Go to the Inca Museum because there are so many things to see there! Also you must take the train from Cusco to Ollantaytambo because of the zig zag trip on the hills, it takes a little time but it’s worth it!

6.Any other comments?
Peru has a rich past – and it’s not only the Inca culture (which we hear most about) – it is also the Moche, Chimu, and Nazca cultures, amongst others. There is so much to learn! If you come to Cusco to only dance and sing, you can do it, but there is so much more! You have to test your courage and do something that you don’t do at home.


Name: Zepher Potrafka
Nationality: USA (Richmond, Virginia)
Length of stay in Peru: 4 months.
Age: 20

1. What has been the highlight of your stay in Peru?
It’s a toss up between the Inca Trail and my trip to the jungle in Puerto Maldonado. On the Inca trail we had perfect weather, and really good guides. Machu Picchu was amazing – a little cloudy at first but then it cleared up!

2. What was the most memorable part of your stay?
It was all memorable; I can’t really pick a specific thing.

3. What did you enjoy most about your classes at AMAUTA?
Meeting people from all over the world. I have met at least 10 people that I am definitely going to keep in touch with. The good thing about group class is that you exchange ideas and cultural experiences instead of just talking with the teacher. One week I had individual classes and that was nice too, because we went out a lot, I went up to Sacsayhuamán with my teacher. I also stayed a week in Urubamba – and apart that it rained for most of the week, it was relaxing and quiet and I enjoyed it. Also, I loved the extra activities: cooking, music and salsa class. It’s a chance to learn new cultural things and take something home with me. Each year at my university we have a cultural festival, so I hope to use what I have learnt here.

4. What recommendations do you have for other people coming to Peru?
Make sure you go to the jungle, Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley and that you see all the sights, as much as possible. Stay with a home stay family.

5. What do you consider is a MUST DO activity in Cusco?
For me, Pisac are the most impressive set of ruins, besides Machu Picchu.

6. Any other comments?
I love the jungle so much; I’ve been looking for volunteer opportunities the past few days, because I want to go back so much.
AMAUTA en Acción
'AMAUTA en Acción'
AMAUTA is proud to present the recently established foundation 'AMAUTA en Acción'. Our many years supporting social projects has made us understand there is plenty of work to be done, and led us to establish our own Foundation. Through this foundation, AMAUTA aims to support existing projects with educational and medical help.

Our first project is assisting Street Kids – it is an after school project for the children around the Plaza de Armas aged between 6 and 16. We already have a room and we envisage a safe and friendly space for the children, a place where they can receive encouragement (moral support, assistance with their homework, and help in medical situations.)  They will be helped to apply for scholarships for English courses, receive a glass of milk daily and a meal weekly. In addition, volunteers will organize workshops for them in areas such as computing, English, theatre, dance and painting.

In early 2006 we will be working on the infrastructure for the project, and gathering a group of about 30 children, and by March we hope to have the project up and running!  This is going to be a rapidly evolving project, so please ask at the office for more information if you are interested!

Our next project is to have two buses, “AMAUTA Movil” equipped with all the necessary educational and medical equipment, visiting many of the projects where our Volunteers work in Cusco, and also in small communities (eg in the Sacred Valley).  Currently, AMAUTA is refining the project, collecting funds and equipment. Do not hesitate to ask for additional information or to contribute any idea that might help.
Cusco's Cathedral
Cusco's Cathedral
New Year is a huge celebration all around the World, and Peru is no different, with this festival largely associated with drinking and having lots of fun with your friends.  However, there are a number of rich customs associated with New Year that are intended to bring good luck.  In general, in Peru people are more connected with the spiritual, the mystic and the superstitious than we are in the west… and they do believe in miracles!

Customs associated with the New Year are intended to bring good luck– a popular tradition is to dress up a doll – (or effigy) with old clothes and then burn it, which signifies getting rid of the old, and making a new start. New clothes are also popular representation of the new, and markets catering to this idea spring up in the streets of Cusco in the days before New Year. If you haven’t got new clothes, underwear is a very popular alternative.  The colour of your underwear is also important – with most popular yellow (for happiness and luck) followed by red (for love) or green (for money).

If you want to travel in the upcoming year, you should take a suitcase or briefcase and carry it around the block or Plaza de Armas on New Year’s Eve. Eating of grapes as the clock strikes 12 is also a popular way of bringing luck – one grape for each of the 12 upcoming months.

Other people light coloured candles (the meaning of the colours is the same as for the underwear, with white bringing good health) in their house. People also participate in a tradition known as “baño de flores” – or a bath of flowers. Depending on what they are wishing for, they fill a basin with water and flowers of a certain colour (roses for love, for example) and will bathe using this combination of water and flowers. At midnight, they put beans into their pockets, and whilst doing so, they wish for money.

A classic custom is to place three potatoes under your chair or sofa – one peeled, on partially peeled and one with it’s’ skin. At 12 o’clock you need to choose, (without looking) one of these potatoes and it will forecast what type of financial year you will have. The potato with no skin means no money, partially skinned means a regular year and a potato with a full skin means lots of money!

In a similar vein, if you throw 10 cents over your shoulder it represents throwing out the poverty of the previous year, and therefore bringing auspiciousness. Other people distribute rice around the house, which is intended to bring money and luck.

As illustrated here, Cusqueño families have a wide range of customs to celebrate the New Year – and each family has their own tradition.  Many families celebrate the New Year together by having lunch and then the young people will go out with their friends. There isn’t a specific food associated with New Year but turkey, chicken and guinea pig (cuy) are common, and drinks such as chocolate (also associated with Christmas), pisco sour and Cusqueña beer are popular.
In this newsletter, we have decided to introduce you to some of the staff that work at Amauta – a great way for you to get to know the type of people who work at our school!  It seemed appropriate that we first introduce you to Lara, who works in reception. She is one of a great team in the reception of Amauta that consists of Norma Guevara (Academic Coordinator) Katelijn van Bentum (Promotion and Reservations) and Lizet van Galen (Volunteer Coordinator).

Lara Neyra Martinez
Lara Neyra Martinez
Name: Lara Neyra Martinez
From: Sicuani
Length of time working at Amauta: 4 months

1. Why do you enjoy working at AMAUTA?
This is a new experience, as  I have never worked with tourists before. The administrative work is not new for me, but I like the movement of the people. I like using another language (English) and learning because I am always meeting new people from new places.

2. What does your work involve?
I am often the first person you meet when you arrive at Amauta, because I work at the reception. I am the office manager and I handle all the incoming phone calls. I am also in charge of student registrations, so I am the person that enters your details into the database.   I also supervise housekeeping and cleaning at the Amauta Student House and make sure everything is OK.   I do the selection of all the host families – I go to the homes, and talk with the families and assess whether students will like staying there. I also organise special requests for students – for example, if they don’t want to stay with a family with pets or children, I can organise this for them. I work very closely with Katelijn and Lizet, we are a team!

3. What is your most memorable moment at work?
We had some problems with some girls in one of the apartments – they broke some things – but at the end they came and said “chau” and gave me a big hug and at the end I think that the problems that we sometimes have are no way equal to the friendships we make.

4. What do you consider is a MUST DO activity in Cusco?
Get to know the people of Cusco by visiting typical places – for example the San Pedro Market, the ruins or a typical restaurant.

5. Any other comments? 
I have only worked here four months but I see it is very important how the teachers work very closely with the students to make sure they are learning very well.

Harry Gonzales is one of our key “men behind the scenes” -  he was the first of our team in information technology and now coordinates this rapidly growing department!

Harry Gonzales
Harry Gonzales
Name: Harry Gonzales
From: Cusco
Length of time working at Amauta: 5 years

1. Why do you enjoy working at AMAUTA?
I have worked various years at Amauta, and I very much enjoy being part of the staff of the best Spanish School in Peru. It is a motivation to be able to contribute to what the little the world knows about my city (Cusco) and our marvellous culture. In addition, my work at Amauta has permitted me to grow at a personal and professional level.

2. What does your work involve?
I am responsible for the Area of Information Technology and Internet, my work consists of, among other things, of making sure our web pages are functioning correctly, design and development of strategies of positioning of the Internet, and to organise and coordinate the work in the Area of Information Technology.

3. What is your most memorable moment at work?
Every day in Amauta brings new experiences, above all good moments. Although I can’t remember one in particular, I can say that I am delighted when the evaluation of our results is positive.

4. What do you consider is a MUST DO activity in Cusco?
Something that we should make obligatory in Cusco is to visit Machu Picchu, it is unpardonable to visit our city and not go to Machu Picchu. I have gone various times myself, and always I have felt a mix of energy and mystery, moreover a feeling of profound admiration and respect for our ancestors, the Incas.

5. Any other comments?
Working in Amauta is fun, I really enjoy it!
Inca Trail
Inca Trail
Since 2004, the number of trek permits is limited to 500 per day (about 200 tourists and 300 trekking staff) so if you want to do this trek it is VITAL to book well in advance.  For the high season (May to September) it advisable to book at least 3 months in advance to guarantee a place.  Permits are sold on a first come, first served basis, and once all places have been booked, NO trekking operator can offer you a space on the Inca Trail.  There is no system with a waiting list. All spaces are personal and non-transferable and even if someone would cancel, no one else could take that space.
Even in the low season you should book as far in advance as possible. Please also note that the Inca Trail is closed in February of each year for maintenance.

For all your travel needs, contact our partner agency, DOS MANOS Peru AMAUTA students receive a 5% discount on their products!

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