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  • Writer's pictureVeronica Smulders

A summer immersion of a lifetime

The story of how we ventured a different cultural experience in our last trip to Peru

My husband and I are a multi-cultural couple; our kids have been raised in a Dutch-Peruvian home in the United Arab Emirates and as third generation kids, they embrace the best of the cultures they are exposed to, to make sense of the world. True global thinkers.

As they got older, we realized it was time for them to get a deeper understanding of their roots. We had spent many short holidays in The Netherlands and although we had been to Peru too, they were too young to really remember much of it.

An opportunity presented itself and we decided to embark on a long trip to Peru, one where we would not only visit the main landmarks of the country, but also learn about the culture, practices the language and make local friends. We thought what a better way than enrolling them into a Peruvian school!

At the park nearby the school

We spent 6 weeks during summer (Peruvian winter) in Peru, battling the local traffic early morning, slowly getting adjusted to the humidity of the capital, Lima, learning the dynamics and social rules of parenting in the country and picking up as much Spanish as we could.

We made an opportunity of the weekends to travel inside the country, while the weekdays were a more formal learning experience for the kids. Every day after school, the boys came home with a new discovery; whether it was a new word in Spanish, a new friend made at school or the exhilarating experience of finding snails at the nearby garden. The learning was not only limited to the kids; selecting the local snacks for the lunch boxes, the lunch menu for them to try their favourite Peruvian food and even the interaction with the teachers was rather different than in the British school the kids attend in Dubai. Every morning at the pre-kinder we were welcomed by the class teacher with a kiss and every parent arriving subsequently too, every morning was a delightful social gathering; like a “tea time” in the classroom

Gabriel eating local "Humitas"at the school

Part of the curriculum for my older son (7) included “religion” which he was introduced to for the first time. It was the first time he was asked about his spiritual believes and it was an occasion for us to start the conversation. The school also organised socially oriented trips such as a visit to a shanty town in Lima where the kids would spend time with the kids living there and bring necessities as gifts to them.

At the end of our trip, they didn’t master “Español” as much as we would have wished to, but they could ask for what they needed at the store and understand much more than I thought. Most importantly their interest to know more about Peruvian culture was awoken as well as their sense of appreciation and belonging.

To those parents looking to expose their kids to a new culture in a meaningful way, this is an experience I would definitely recommend. Get in touch with a local school, summer camp or local art workshop to see which one works better for your family.

Hasta luego!



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