The parents’ association in Chumpe invited us to their community in late 2016 after hearing about Alma and our innovative teaching methodology from their preschool teacher, who happened to be the sister of one of our teachers, Gustavo. Only a few days before Christmas, Ian and Gustavo took the five-hour drive from Cusco to Chumpe, getting caught in a snowstorm at over 4,700 meters above sea level! It was Ian’s first “white Christmas” after many years in Peru.
The parents and other community members in Chumpe expressed interest in our projects that reinforce state-mandated academic content and promote critical/creative thinking through dynamic projects based 100% on the students’ indigenous culture and values, but they had a special request: they heard that we work technology into our curriculum, and wanted to implement our project as a computer science class within the regular school day, as opposed to an afterschool project with a lighter focus on computation. The community, state teachers, and students were clearly up for the challenge, so we decided to try it out with them and see how it goes.
We began the computer project in 2017 in Chumpe and are still there today. The parents continue to participate and take leadership in the project, the community as a whole remains supportive, and students, who when we started working together struggled to voice any opinion, now proudly lead PowerPoint presentations justifying their innovative ideas of different projects for their community.