MOUNT VERNON — To immerse oneself in another culture, for greater understanding of our complex and beautiful world, is a noble pursuit and the mission of the Fullbright Hays fellowship program. Mount Vernon High School Spanish Teacher Dena Hooley lived and studied amongst native Peruvians last summer, when she accepted a Fullbright-Hays fellowship to study language in the country. Hooley was stationed in Cusco, Peru for six weeks, from June 24 to Aug. 5 of 2017.
The goal of this fellowship was for the participants to fully immerse themselves in the culture of Peru and expand their preconceived notions of the world. They lived with native Peruvian families and experienced daily life with them, a routine that everyday tourists would not usually be able to see.
Hooley explained that her group was stationed in Cusco, where it was winter, due to it being in the Southern hemisphere. Despite it being “winter,” the days were still around 60 degrees, but it would get below freezing every night. She and her fellow scholars would take language classes in the morning, and spend the afternoon in immersive cultural classes and experiences.
These experiences included visits to see folk music and dancing troupes, which danced the traditional dances of different regions in Peru; many small farms and agricultural centers; and an Incan salted spring, which became an industrial salt mine.