Tearful goodbyes have been kept to a minimum this fall, as Goshen College students only had to say farewell to one SST unit. Eleven students left for Peru on September 1st, and arrived safely later that night. This is the second SST unit lead by Jerrell Ross Richer, associate professor of economics, and his wife Jane, along with their four children Sierra, Naomi, Teresa and Jordan. The Ross-Richer family will stay to lead the next two SST units in Peru as well.

According to Tom Meyers, director of International Education, everything has gone smoothly for the group thus far, aside from the unavoidable sickness that often plagues the SSTers' beginning weeks abroad.

SST veterans have often used the social networking Web site Facebook to keep in touch with their host families after they return to the United States. However, a few students in this group were contacted by their future host families before they arrived in Peru to meet in person. Hannah Roth, a junior, was contacted by her host siblings Omar and Ceci on Facebook three days before she left.

"It wasn't really a huge deal that Omar and Ceci contacted me ahead of time. It was nice to know what kinds of gifts to bring along!" said Roth. "It was really nice to be able to recognize my family as soon as they came to pick me up."

This fall, the current Peru SST unit will attend classes, workshops and lectures in a new location. Unlike previous units, they will be in the only Anabaptist Church in Peru’s capital city, Lima: Comunidad RETO Internacional Lima, which, when translated, is called the International Community of Total Reconciliation in Lima.

Reverend Jose Manuel Prada and the pastoral team welcomed the Ross-Richers and their students this past weekend, and the group will continue to meet there every morning for language class. The church was started seven years ago by Pastor Prada, his wife Esperanza and staff member Jackie Hidalgo, and is affiliated with the Mennonite Brethren denomination.

Additional information and updates can be found at the SST website:  http://www.goshen.edu/sst/peru-fall09/.