Interview with a Peruvian teacher

Dec. 31, 1969, 7 p.m. | By Zach Mellman | 53 years, 11 months ago

Quick facts about Peru:

  • Location: Western South America, bordering the South Pacific Ocean, between Chile and Ecuador
  • Area: 1,285,220 sq km
  • Climate: varies from tropical in east to dry desert in west; temperate to frigid in Andes
  • Population: 27,483,864
  • Life expectancy at birth: male- 67.9 years; female- 72.81 years (July 2001 estimates)
  • Ethnic groups: Amerindian 45%, mestizo (mixed Amerindian and white) 37%, white 15%, other 3%
  • Religions: Roman Catholic 90%
  • Government type: constitutional republic
  • Capital: Lima
  • Population below poverty line: 49% (1994 estimate)
Sandra Gutierrez is in her third year at Blair and teaches ESOL 4 and bilingual science, moved from Peru's capital of Lima to the United States when she was 15.

Gutierrez, a mestizo, says that Peru has a close knit society. "There is a very strong sense of community," she says with a beautiful Peruvian accent, "It is more of a neighborhood life. You know your neighbors."

She also says that in Peru, family is considered very important. "Family has a very central role. People eat together and families play at the park." she says.

She went on to say that people tend not to move as frequently as Americans. "People are less mobile. Most of the time, if you're born in the city you live in the city," she explains.

Gutierrez believes that Americans do not dance as often as Peruvians. "One big difference between the United States and Peru is that at a party, it's not just talking and eating, it implies dancing!" she says emphatically.

Gutierrez recommends Peruvian food such as the cuisine prepared at Tropicana, a Peruvian restaurant located at 8638 Flower Ave. In Peru, the food consists mainly of fish from the Pacific coast, and beans, potatoes and rice elsewhere. It is usually spicy and "food is made from scratch every meal."

According to Gutierrez, as in much of the world, the main sport for men is soccer. The main sport for women is volleyball. "On Sunday, they close the streets [in parts of Lima] and put up volleyball nets," she says nostalgically.

She also says that there is not much social privacy. "It is a very gossipy society. People are very much in your business," she says. In addition, people in Peru are very trendy. "If something becomes fashionable, everyone does it," she explains.

Unfortunately, the economic situation of Peru is not as she wishes it would be. "It is a very 'classist' country. There is a small middle class, a very small upper class and a big lower class. It is very exclusionary to the lower class," she says with a disgruntled tone. She also says that wages are low. "Most of the teachers in Peru make $300 to 500 a month. People don't have money," she says.

Despite the economic hardships, Gutierrez believes that Peru is a nice place to live.

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Zach Mellman. Zach Mellman was born on October 18, 1956 (he was held back once or twice). He has lived in Takoma Park, Maryland his entire life. He is currently a senior at Blair enrolled in honors classes. He is also a member of Blair's golf team, … More »

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