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Jan-Feb 2019: Brittany Rohm

 

 

 

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Cusco was considered by the Ancient Incas to be the navel of the world, and served as the capital of their empire. With Machu Picchu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and recently named one of the Seven New Wonders of the World, nearby the tourism industry is booming. Thanks to a citywide ban on all foreign, corporate restaurant and retail chains (such as McDonald’s and Starbucks), visitors are encouraged to eat and shop from locally run businesses. Tourists can appreciate the fact that they are making an impact on the local economy and enjoy spending time in a city that, without the standard signs of globalization, feels a bit off the beaten path.

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The little round sign above the door told me I was at the right place: Aldea Yanapay – Otra Forma de Vivir. A voice approached from behind as I searched for the right buzzer.

“Are you here to volunteer?” It was as much an eager welcome as a question.

“I just came by to see the after-school program,” I started to respond, but it suddenly no longer seemed necessary to give a calculated, uncommitted answer. Her unfeigned enthusiasm was already convincing me that this would be worthwhile.

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