Teaching Outside the Box

By Vivian Smith, Community Education Coordinator


If you picture our Spanish teachers in a classroom teaching grammar, you’d be dead wrong these days. As part of recent training workshops with local teacher Chrissie Ellison, the teachers have developed a dynamic 10-hour cultural immersion course tailored to incoming Awamaki volunteers and tourists alike. The lessons are based on a walking tour of our historic Inca town. The teachers teach their students about Ollantaytambo past and present, cultural information, typical foods (including tasting unusual local fruits!), and essential Quechua phrases. For those staying in homestays, the final session focuses on homestay family norms and etiquette. Tourists may opt to go on one of Awamaki’s tours as part of their class, for example visiting a Quechua community or learning the art of Peruvian cooking in the home of a local chef. The class has already proven to be a success. “I have never taken a class where I didn’t feel rushed or nervous, but this class made me relaxed and happy!” said one of the first volunteers to take the class. The Spanish teachers, already experts on their culture and traditions, are now equipped with the teaching skills necessary to create a fun and enriching experience for all those who pass through Ollantaytambo.


Vivian Smith is the Volunteer Coordinator at Awamaki and works closely with the Awamaki Language Center. Her proudest life achievements include seeing an opera for two dollars, mastering Bejeweled at the age of ten, and being JLo for Halloween ten years after she was popular.

About Awamaki

Awamaki is a nonprofit fair trade social enterprise dedicated to connecting Andean artisan weavers with global markets. We collaborate with women artisans to support their efforts towards educational and financial independence by co-creating beautifully handcrafted knit and woven accessories using hertiage techniques.