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Andover to launch 2013 student expedition to Peru

Ten students will explore region’s culture and archaeology

October 10, 2012 --The Spanish Department and the Peabody Museum will launch an archaeological and linguistic expeditionary program to Peru for ten Andover students this summer. Spanish instructor Mark Cutler and Peabody Museum educator Donald Slater will lead the three-week voyage, which includes a challenging 30-mile trek along the Inca Trail, culminating at Machu Picchu.

“A very small-percentage of visitors travel to Machu Picchu this way,” said Slater, who, with Cutler, previously led four student expeditions to Mesoamerica since 2005. This is their first time taking students to Peru.

With the assistance of an Abbot Grant, the two traveled to Peru last June, where they charted an itinerary for the upcoming voyage that combines some of the culture’s most dichotomous elements — from remote villages to cosmopolitan cities, through both its lowlands and highlands — to explore, among other themes, modern civilization’s relationship to its ancient past.

Cutler and Slater decided to name the program HUACA, an indigenous Quechua word that refers to a sacred place or object, and an acronym for “Human Understanding through Archaeology and Cultural Awareness.” The Quechua language, which, according to Cutler, is spoken by 3 million people in Peru, is facing possible extinction.

“Our students will be able to experience a culture that teeters on a precipice of uncertainty: it will either live despite increasing contact with the modern world, or it will die,” said Cutler, who cites a Quechua Google page as one newfangled way young people are working to preserve their heritage.

As with their previous expeditions, all Andover students, regardless of their ability to pay, are eligible for the trip. Cutler and Slater hope for a big turnout at an information session on November 7, and have even created a slick trailer to entice applicants.


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