The efforts of Utah Valley State College students have finally paid off. Facebook pages, dances, hallway tables, popcorn, posters, fliers, and petitions to local businesses were just a few of the ways that students raised money to send help to earthquake victims in Peru.

The project “Hope for Peru” began last fall. It was started by Advanced Spanish 3050 classes just weeks after the August 15, 2007 disaster; the day Peru suffered the deadliest earthquake registered in 35 years.

One of the main focuses for this aid project was the children. It was reported that children, months after the earthquake, slept in the streets with no other place to go. After learning this, UVSC contributors made a big push to get help to them by Christmas. It worked.
“We were able to plan, organize, prepare and execute a special Christmas dinner for…700 people,” Sara Ulloa, Professor of Advanced Spanish, stated. “We [gave] Christmas gift[s] to 300 children under the age of 12. Each gift consisted of food, clothing, schools supplies and toys.”

Gifts were also handed out to some of the local mothers. These gifts consisted of soap, detergent, brooms, dishes, pots and pans, pitchers, kitchen towels, storage containers, blenders, and irons.

The gifts and donations were personally taken and handed out by volunteers of UVSC’s faculty and students. They were met in Peru by hundreds of people and posters thanking them for their kindness. The children even prepared special presentations to show how grateful they were.

“We feel that this ‘Hope for Peru’ project was a complete success,” Ulloa said. “As we worked together to help these children, each one of us learned to become a better individual and asset to this society.” 

While the project was targeted to those affected by the earthquake, an educational purpose was also expected as part of the process.

Most of the students involved with “Hope for Peru” had spent time living abroad in Spanish speaking countries. They wanted to continue learning the language because of their love of the people and customs. As one learns a foreign language, it is imperative to learn about its culture as well.

As students participated in this project, they replaced time spent in computer labs reviewing verbs, with time spent in actual application, gaining real life experiences of Hispanic customs.

“The ‘Hope for Peru’ project was, for me, one of the greatest educational experiences that I’ve ever had,” Trevor Dorius, UVSC student, said. “Not only was I constantly learning, but I was doing so with the purpose to help others.  That for me made it worth it.”