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Students connect with alumni during winter study abroad trip to Peru

“My experience in Peru has profoundly impacted me on both a personal and transformative level. It went beyond being a typical tourist adventure; it was a journey that left an enduring mark on my identity and outlook.”

- Dev Patel, a senior majoring in biological engineering

Purdue students had the opportunity to travel to Peru over the winter break. The South American country offers a blend of history, diverse landscapes and vibrant culture that provides an unforgettable educational experience. The winter agriculture study abroad course, Purdue Engagement Methods for International Food Security, was led by professors Jeneen Fields, PhD, and Mark Russell, PhD.

During the 8-week course, 11 Purdue and three National Agricultural University de la Moline students established international partner relationships and worked together to learn about intercultural communication, market analysis, project design and planning, and cultural factors affecting community food security.

Students sitting around wood table
Students talking at tables with potted plants surrounding them

“Students are deeply impacted by participating in study abroad experiences, it is an amazing evolution to watch in real time,” says Jeneen Fields, PhD, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology. “They learn new processes in agricultural production, business and engineering, that incorporate sustainability at the core. Their exposure to the different cultures and the relationships they build with fellow students and project partners can launch lifetime friendships and support systems.”

The course seeks to strengthen learning, literacy and life skills of Peruvian and Purdue students through mutually beneficial engagement. This year, students were also able to attend a gathering with Purdue alumni from Peru.

“The alumni lunch provided an opportunity for me to connect with fellow Boilermakers who hailed from Peru, creating a sense of camaraderie and sharing of Purdue experiences in an unexpected setting,” said Patel.

“This casual meal and gathering of Purdue alumni from Peru with current students from across our campus was engaging and energizing for all involved,” says Mark Russell, PhD, professor of Agricultural Sciences Education and Communication. “Students shared perspectives about their Purdue experiences and the alumni reinforced how valuable their professional preparation at Purdue has been for their career success. This was a first for our community engagement in the Peru class and hopefully many positive connections and professional opportunities will result.”

Students at Machu Picchu

Patel summarizes his Peru experience:

“This trip cultivated a deep appreciation for cultural diversity and the richness of human connections. Making friends with locals like the students from La Molina University, Purdue alumni and Ernesto from the travel agency was not just a highlight; it resulted in genuine, lifelong connections.”

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