Peru 2013: Learning Through Adventure
In 7 months, we will be taking twenty-four undergraduate students and five staff to Peru, to help rebuild a Peruvian school and teach some of the pupils over 10 days. We also intend to do some physiological research regarding altitude responses and adaptations and to climb Machu Picchu at the end of our stay. This blog is time-line of this process. People out there may be reading this for a number of reason; you may be interested in what we get up out there such as the physiological testing, you may be interested in the benefits we can create for these under-privileged children, some may be interested in the trek up to Machu Picchu and some may want to read this to help consider organising something like this for themselves or a large group like ours. Whatever it is I hope you find this interesting, useful and worthwhile.
The School in Huarcarpay, Peru (30mins from Cusco) which we will be helping to rebuild and renovate.
Sunny Eastbourne in the snow, altitude 0m, population 100,000 and Cusco, Peru, altitude 3300m, population 349,000.
Learning Through Adventure... Aims and Objectives
The Peru 2013 ‘Learning Through Adventure’ expedition is an initiative of the School of Sport and Service Management, University of Brighton. The initiative for year one students of our BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Science degree has three main objectives related to learning, research and cultural exchange. Specifically, the initiative is focussed upon;
· Education and employability
Peru 2013 will provide educational and employment-related experience for students through a number of means. Through planning and fundraising initiatives within the local community prior to the trip, students will have the opportunity to develop key employability skills important for future careers. In addition, through working with children in the Peruvian community of Cuzco, students will develop cultural awareness and gain valuable life experience and self-realisation, which will be of significant benefit in their own lives as they develop their future careers.
From a formal educational perspective, the Peru 2013 initiative has been written and designed to align with independent study modules that students will take in their second year. Output from the expedition will form the basis for a 2000 word individual written report that will count as credit towards their degree. In addition, it is anticipated that research data generated on the trip will form the basis of oral and poster presentations.
· Physiological Education Outreach
A key aspect of the ‘Learning Through Adventure’ initiative will be the outreach programme that the students will deliver to children living in schools in Cuzco. The intention for this programme is to teach basic human physiology to the children in a theoretical and practical way. Students from the BSc degree will prepare and deliver sessions over the duration of a week comprising basic insight into human physiology on topics ranging from the musculo-skeletal and cardio-respiratory systems to basic energy metabolism. The session content will be aligned with national curriculum guidelines to ensure appropriate level and where possible BSc students will use laboratory skills gained in the first year of their degree to implement practical sessions and ensure learning in a fun, active way. The opportunity to gain hands on experience in teaching in an applied setting adds to the uniqueness of the project for the students. These life skills are not possible to teach in a normal academic environment, demonstrating the uniqueness of the venture.
· Cultural exchange / volunteering
The Peru 2013 project is a rare opportunity to make a positive contribution to the lives of others and to experience a once in a lifetime trip to South America with the goal of aiding and educating the local community. The students will assume teaching responsibilities for orphaned and school children as well as implementing sporting activities and helping with the renovation and rebuilding of Huarcapay School. The volunteering project will allow the students to experience different cultures and most importantly make a valuable contribution to the lives of less-fortunate individuals. Continued trips to the region are planned to provide a real benefit to be seen in the community through the work of the students over a period of many years.
Cuzco is approximately 10,000 km from London and situated at an altitude of 3,400m above sea level. Consequently, the expedition provides students with a unique opportunity to experience field-based, environmental research in the areas of altitude and travel across time zones. Opportunities to apply theory to practice and develop research skills will be provided through five research projects that have been developed in collaboration with the students prior to the trip. These projects will explore human tolerance to altitude and the impact of travel across time zones and will require laboratory based testing pre and post expedition, supplemented by field-based testing in Cuzco. It is anticipated that the data generated from the projects will form the basis of poster and oral presentations by the students, but will also contribute to writing journal articles for peer reviewed journals in the area of sport and exercise science.
Students using the Cortex Metamax 3X for Cardiopulmonary Exercise Testing (VO2max testing) in the labs
So to get you up to speed, we started organising this trip in January 2012, which is being booked through the very helpful Travel Nation. Students and staff are paying for this themselves and are actively fundraising through various projects to raise money to pay for the volunteering aspect of the project such as the building costs and set up. Such activities include quizzes, raffles, FIFA tournaments, netball tournaments etc. but I'm sure we will post more about these another time. We are doing only one sponsored event, a 10,000km static cycle, the distance from Eastbourne to Cusco, Peru. Again, I will post more on this later. We have so far gratefully received some funding and support from various companies for equipment and costs. These include MKK, Mad Designs , Springboard and Cortex Medical, for whom we will be posting a running diary of the trip on their website . If anyone else would like to consider sponsoring the project in anyway please feel free to get in contact with me.
Myself, the staff and students will keep you posted as to how we are getting on.