Blog Post

A Hemisphere Away from Home

Jacqueline Wiese, a graduate student in the University of Pennsylvania's historic preservation program, volunteered to spend some time researching and working in Peru's Colca Valley in summer 2009. WMF connected them with AECID (the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation), our partner in the Colca Valley, and subsidized their travel expenses. See page 10 of our summer 2009 newsletter for background information.

As WMF interns in Chivay, Peru, Patrick, Yaritza and I had the privilege of working in the offices of the Spanish Agency of International Cooperation for Development (AECID). We learned a great deal about the organization's purpose and outreach techniques. At site visits to various provinces in the Colca Valley we met locally trained residents who are carrying out supervised restoration efforts, such as in the Templo de Canocota. We also observed meetings between AECID architects and local homeowners at the AECID headquarters in Chivay. Building training, artesian workshops, and the general use of the AECID facilities have become significant community resources for residents in Chivay and nearby towns.

AECID and the Cultural Patrimony Program for Community Development have been working in the Colca Valley for some time now and are producing successful results. We have seen these results firsthand, in the form of actual job creation and better living conditions for the local population. What started as plans for the restoration and maintenance of twelve churches throughout the Colca Valley has grown into something much more substantial for this region of Peru.

As a preservation planning student, I found this entire experience very enlightening and it has inspired me to look at the context of cultural resources on another level. Although the complexities of protecting those resources internationally are often quite challenging, they are also comparable to the complex relationships between local, state, and federal governmental entities here in the United States. Understanding these relationships is necessary in order to make things happen, especially in under-funded and understaffed historic preservation agencies and non-profit organizations. And even if the Colca Valley region of Southern Peru is a hemisphere away from where I call home, it is clearer now that things are not so different from one person's home to the next. We all have a history to protect and a community to protect it for.