The TANDEM network has just welcomed its second new partner school this year: ACUPARI Peru will now carry the TANDEM Cusco seal.
The school will answer some basic questions, so we can get to know the school better from their own point of view.
1. ACUPARI is a language school with a close link to Germany. Where did this German-Peruvian bond come from?
In 1989, the Asociación Cultural Perú Alemania, ACUPARI, was founded on the initiative of Mrs. María Jurgens de Hermoza, a recently appointed Honorary Consul of Germany in the city of Cusco, accompanied by a group of Germans living in Cusco and other international personalities from the city.
It was supported by the German Embassy and the Goethe Institute with the purpose of strengthening cultural relations between the two countries and promoting cultural events from both regions in addition to the teaching of German, Spanish and Quechua.
For 29 uninterrupted years, this non-profit association has contributed to the diffusion of German culture in Cusco.
2. What motivated ACUPARI to become part of the TANDEM International family?
When you learn a language, one of the key points is communication. Taking immersion courses helps considerably, but this needs to be complemented with frequent conversation practice. The best way to support our Peruvian and foreign students is to provide them with the necessary tools.
The main objective of ACUPARI is the teaching of Spanish and German language courses. To strengthen and reinforce the learning of these two languages so important in today’s communication, we offer complementary conversation practice between international and local students.
ACUPARI, as a member of TANDEM, provides this free program for all students who have achieved a level A2 and wish to participate in this mutually beneficial experience.
The TANDEM Program, besides being a tool for communication and mutual assistance, is a great experience creating indissoluble friendship bonds between participants. It allows foreign students to know the real, daily life of the “cusqueños” as well as their familiar environment, and local students learn about the life and customs of Germany. Fostering this empathy between them, encourages relations with a multiplier effect for ACUPARI, since foreign students will recommend us and tell others about their great experience in the Cusco school.
3. What is the difference between ACUPARI and other Spanish language schools?
ACUPARI is not only a language school, but also a non-profit cultural association; our goal is to create intercultural meetings for our students outside of their regular classes.
Since its inception, ACUPARI has taken special care in the selection of its Spanish teachers. They are specialized in teaching Spanish as a foreign language, and many have vast experience in working at the school for decades.
Similarly, all our teachers who teach German are native speakers and have the DAF certification to work in our school. We also have the constant care of German administrative and service staff and interns who are always ready to meet the requirements and needs of foreign students. We offer them opportunities for volunteer work, visits to various places in Cusco and the surrounding region, or other activities they wish to do, so they find a warm and familiar environment, and gain plenty of confidence. With this strategy, where personal relationships are most important, the results are in a more satisfactory learning of the language.
ACUPARI offers students multiple intercultural extracurricular activities, such as the Café Berlin and the “Stamtish”, which are places for fraternization with Peruvian students, German cinema, Salsa classes and excursions to different monuments, museums, concerts and performances in the city.
Throughout the year ACUPARI receives many requests from German teachers to work in our school. After careful selection, they become part of this family, along with many young people interested in doing internships with us.
4. Machu Picchu is one of the best known Peruvian symbols in the world. What other attractions does Peru have for an international student who wants to learn Spanish in Cusco?
Cusco, capital of the Inca Empire, is the oldest city in America. It has a millennial culture and is home of the magnificent legacy of the Incas. This can be seen in the splendid architectural monuments scattered throughout the city.
The Archaeological Park of Machu Picchu is the most important exponent of this legacy, generally considered one of the Wonders of the World. Nearby is Sacsayhuamán, scene of the Great Inti Raymy, a party dedicated to the Sun God. Not far away is Tipón, a masterpiece of hydraulic engineering recognized by UNESCO. In the Sacred Valley of the Incas are Pisac, Moray and Ollantaytambo, marvelous places providing testimony to Inca greatness.
Cusco also has considerable Spanish cultural heritage; after three hundred years of colonization, the merging of both cultures is evident. Multiple proofs of this are the Main Basilica of the Cathedral, the Minor Basilica of La Merced, the Church of the Company, the Plaza de Armas, other countless churches, squares and colonial mansions, the House of the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, and the Palace of the Cabildo.
We also have to mention the Korikancha or Great Temple of the Sun, in which the syncretism of the Spanish and Inca cultures can be fully appreciated.
As depositories of cultural legacies, of both the ancient Cusco and the Spanish, local museums are filled with ancestral treasure relics. The Museum Inka, the Museum Machu Picchu and the Regional Historical Museum, as well as others keep the cultural legacy of the Colony alive. The Museum of Religious Art, the Museum of the Convent of San Francisco with its fabulous library, the Museum of the Convent of Santa Catalina and many others preserve the “Virreynato”.
In addition to the historical richness that attracts Spanish students, Cusco offers visitors an ecological paradise with its magnificent natural places for walks and excursions. Examples include the Vini Kunka Mountain, also known as the Mountain of Seven Colors, located in the foothills of the Ausangate snow-covered mountain, the Humantay Lagoon near the Salkantay mountain, Las Salineras or Salt Mines near Moray, the Inca trail to Machupicchu, and Manu National Park. In the tropical zone of Cusco, the Province of La Convención houses Quillabamba, known as the City of Eternal Summer, with its beautiful waterfalls and spas on the banks of the majestic Vilcanota River; the Road to Machu Picchu by Santa Teresa with the Thermal Baths of Cocalmayo, the Thermal Baths of Aguas Calientes in Machu Picchu Kamisea and the Pongo del Mainique.
Outside Cusco, there are other wonderful places to visit — Lake Titicaca in Puno, Paracas with its Ballestas Islands, Iquitos with its Amazon River, Kuelap in Amazonas, the incredible Nazca Lines, the City of Chan-Chan in Trujillo, and Lima with its wonderful museums and churches and much more throughout Peru.
5. What recommendations would you make to anyone who wants to study Spanish in Cusco?
Studying Spanish in Cusco is an unforgettable experience. During an immersion course students can do different activities in parallel, such as participating in multiple cultural events that are always in the city of Cusco. Samples include a visit to the National University of San Antonio Abad del Cusco, considered the fourth oldest university in Peru and the fifth oldest in Latin America, a visit to the Municipal Library of Cusco, tasting Peruvian food in typical restaurants and markets, and dancing at night either in places of folkloric music or in any of the clubs that has this city soaked in culture.
An important, but not obligatory, recommendation is for people interested in learning Spanish to live with a family from Cusco. Besides speaking only in Spanish with them, they will offer a totally welcoming family atmosphere typical of our culture. From the very first moment a student will feel like another member of the family that awaits them with open arms.
6. What is the “Children’s Book” project and why is it so important for ACUPARI?
In 2006, the la Asociación Cultural Peruana Alemana en Cusco, ACUPARI, initiated the project “Libro Infantil”, Children’s Book, to promote reading among children in rural Andean communities, where didactic material for children’s literature is very scarce. ACUPARI dedicates these bilingual books to Peruvian children hoping the illustrated stories will encourage them to narrate, paint and create their own experiences and fantasies.
The project was initiated thanks to the support of many friends and students of ACUPARI who shared this magnificent idea.
The first children’s book published in Spanish was “Johann”, which was distributed free of charge to many schools in the Cusco region.
Subsequently, ACUPARI promoted a “Children’s Story Regional Contest ” in 2007; the winning story was “Catalina y la Unkuña Mágica” written and illustrated by the Cusco artist Braddy Romero Ricalde. This story was edited in both Spanish and Quechua.
In 2012 we published our third book composed of three beautiful stories under the title of “Los cuentos de mi Abuela” narrated in Quechua. It was also edited in Spanish and Quechua and illustrated by Braddy Romero Ricalde.
Our fourth children’s book published by ACUPARI is “Kantu y Quenti”.
We are currently in the stage of calling for the II Children’s Story Contest for the edition of our fifth book, which is attracting the interest of many citizens. Our goal is to have this book published by 2019 with the sole purpose of continuing to promote reading among children in rural areas of Cusco.
7. In addition to Spanish courses, ACUPARI offers classes in Quechua, the language of the ancient Inca Empire and one of Peru’s official languages along with Spanish. Is it a language most Peruvians know? Is it very different from Spanish?
Peru is a multilingual country. Quechua is spoken mostly in the highlands. It is a very different language from Spanish, because it did not originate in Europe. It is spoken less in Peru than Spanish, but it exists with many different linguistic variants and is part of the cultural heritage of the Incas.
ACUPARI has among its objectives to preserve the cultural heritage inherited from the Great Empire of Tahuantinsuyo, and one of the exponents of this great heritage is the Quechua language. Such was its greatness that it spread during the Inca empire to Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Argentina, Bolivia and Chile.It had its origins in minor languages and dialects spoken throughout the South American continent. Unfortunately, after the Spanish invasion and during the Spanish rule, this language was anathema and even forbidden to be spoken and was totally displaced by Spanish. During the twentieth century, it was revalued and revived by distinguished indigenous writers Clorinda Matto de Turner, José María Arguedas, José Lopez Albujar, and others.
Because of its origin, Quechua, both in its grammatical structure and pronunciation, is very different from Spanish. It has different linguistic variations such as trivocalic and pentavocalic. It is a language that keeps its pure essence and original richness, and for its connoisseurs is an effective instrument for the transmission of their experiences and Andean idiosyncrasies. Currently, 40% of Peruvians speak Quechua, especially in the Andean area. For this reason it is considered an Official Language, along with Spanish and Aymara.
The Ministry of Education has already included it within the Curriculum of Studies in the educational centers of Peru.