Communication Studies students experience Peru, learn about disaster communication in Maymester Study Abroad course | Communication Studies
June 19, 2014

Communication Studies students experience Peru, learn about disaster communication in Maymester Study Abroad course

Seven Communication Studies students, along with students from Emergency Administration and Planning Program and the Department of Public Administration, recently journeyed to Lima and Cusco, Peru, for seven days to study disaster and crisis communication. The Communication Studies class included two graduate students, Cassandra Gersh and Laura Maninger, and five undergraduate students: Michelle Brite, Anastacia Bynoe, Paige Fountain, Breanna Mapston, and Lance Ragland. The course was led by Dr. Brian Richardson (Communication Studies) and Dr. Laura Siebeneck (Public Administration), who partnered with administrators and faculty at Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola, a Peruvian university with campuses in Lima and Cusco. The week was packed with guest lectures from emergency management professionals and professors, and cultural fieldtrips and excursions.

Highlights of the class included the following:

-visiting the Museum of Cultural History in Peru

-Mirabus tour of Lima

-hiking Sacsayhuaman Archeological Park near Cusco

-group dancing at Candelaria, a site that celebrates Peru's traditional dances

-visiting a children's hospital in Cusco

-touring the Cusco Fire Station #39, and getting an unvarnished perspective of the challenges facing emergency responders in Peru

-hiking Machu Picchu, the world-renowned Incan site believed to be built as an estate for Incan emperor Pachacuti in the 15th century.

-dining on delicious Peruvian cuisine including ceviche, arrroz con pollo, fresh Peruvian fruits, and drinking Inca Cola, Pisco Sours, and Chicha Morada, or purple corn drink. Some of our group even dined on cuy (guinea pig), cow heart, and grilled alpaca.

Students and faculty alike described this trip as a life changing experience, "As a faculty member, this was easily one of the best experiences of my career," said Dr. Richardson. "It was great to get out of the classroom, and see up-close and personal, how culture, geography, disaster, and communication, interact with one another in one of the most special countries in South America."

Student Testimonials

By far my most enriching college experience. Made life long friendships. Ate the best food. Hiked one of the seven wonders of the world. Oh...and I learned about crisis communication!! - Paige Fountain

There is no excuse to not study abroad. You will develop relationships that will change your life, and experience the world in a new way. I will never regret the time I spent in Peru. I know that I will lead life differently because of this experience. - Cassandra Gersh

I knew that the countryside would be beautiful but I did not imagine I would fall in love with Peru as much as I did. I will definitely be making another trip to Peru in my lifetime. I can only hope that it will be as magical as this one was. - Laura Maninger

I've finally had time to reflect on my trip to Peru, first I want to say thank you to Dr. Brian Richardson and Dr. Laura Chance Siebeneck for allowing me the opportunity to experience Peru. I learned so much about South America and the world on this week in Lima and Cusco. It is such a diverse culture and one of the few places you will see modernization and traditional inca values mesh together. Pictures do not do Machu Picchu justice, but standing in the middle of the Andes mountains overlooking an ancient Inca civilization will go down as one of the greatest experiences of my life. I learned so much more on this trip than just crisis communication in Peru. If you are thinking of doing a study abroad, DO IT! - Lance Ragland