After over three months of living in huge cities, small villages, coastal towns, jungles, the Andes Mountains and beside the Mekong River, students on Study-Service Term (SST) from Cambodia and Peru returned to a gray and rainy Goshen on Wednesday. This was the second Goshen trip to Cambodia and the eleventh to Peru.
While the Cambodia group arrived at 2:30 p.m., the Peru group’s flight was late in Lima and didn’t arrive in Goshen until much later in the day because of the missed connections that followed.
Kevin Koch, assistant in the international education department, noted that the returning groups were smaller than usual, with only five returning from Cambodia and nine from Peru. The rest of each group stayed to travel in surrounding countries.
While both groups similarly completed a study term and a service term, their settings and activities were very different.
The Cambodia group spent their first few weeks in Phnom Penh, the capital city of over one million people. Along with language studies, the students visited Angkor Wat, a series of 12th century elaborate temples and learned about the Khmer Rouge period, when from 1975 to 1979 the Khmer Rouge party killed one-third of all Cambodians.
After the first six weeks, the students branched off into their service locations where their jobs ranged from teaching pre-schoolers to agricultural work to teaching English.
The Peru group started off in Lima, Peru’s capital city of over seven million people. The Peru location’s usual trip to Cusco and Machu Picchu was canceled due to severe flooding in the area.
However, this flooding opened up new service opportunities for the second half of the semester. Three Goshen College students spent their service portion helping communities clean up after the devastating flood. Other service jobs included working with a gang-prevention program, instructing kids about the importance of a healthy diet, assisting in a health clinic and teaching English, among other things.
The last group activity the Peru students shared was a day trip to Islas Palomino, a small island that is home to over 1,000 sea lions.
This summer’s SST groups are Peru, Nicaragua and Senegal, all departing in late April.