Educational program in the Sacred Valley
In addition to minimizing the impact of its operations, an important part of Explora’s Sustainability program involves working with the communities that inhabit the places it introduces its travelers to. In this context, one of the most successful projects in the last few years before the pandemic was the Terevaka Archaeological Outreach (TAO) program, developed together with Brett Shepardson, PhD in archeology from the University of Hawaii.
The program consists of a 14-day educational workshop for young people who belong to the local communities we are in.
TAO defines its mission in three parts: First, to offer an educational experience on the natural and cultural resources the local community is immersed in; second, to raise awareness and create experience on conservation measures and sustainable development; and lastly, to study and document past and present natural and cultural phenomena.
POGRAM IN THE SACRED VALLEY
The first version of the TAO program was held in July at our lodge in Sacred Valley, Peru, and aimed to bring local communities closer to the territory.
The camp lasted two weeks and involved participation by 15 children aged 12 to 18 from different local schools, mainly Urquillos.
TAO is a voluntary experiential education program run by PhD in archeology Brett Shepardson, who together with 6 students from Northern Arizona University organized different activities and research during this period to teach local communities, especially the new generations, about the destination in an entertaining way and in the field.
The program subject was water, and, accompanied by some of our guides, the children received various classes on geology, natural resources, ecology and history, among others, to understand the importance of water over time.
“In the Sacred Valley I realized that the Urubamba River has been the foundation of life for over a thousand years and is now toxic, which is why it is important to show children how ancient cultures took care of it and in that way find a way for new technologies that can help solve this problem,” Brett Sheparson said.
GETTING TO WORK
The young people carried out two research projects in groups as part of the program. First, they had to identify the pollutants in the river and to look for other sources of water. Second, they created digital models of the Inca terrace walls, which are part of the lodge’s facilities, to prevent them from falling due to deterioration.
The idea is for them to share all the information they collect during the program with their families and friends to expand knowledge and involve more people in the region’s problems and their solution.
Britton Shepardson stressed the importance of empowering local people, so they do not rely too much on experts to find sustainable ways to care for the environment.
THE ORIGINS OF TAO
Brett Shepardson created TAO in 2003, an experiential education program to raise Rapa Nui young people’s awareness of archeology, traditional lifestyles, technology and sustainable development. Through non-invasive research, it seeks to empower the local community to discover its history, safeguard its traditions and participate in the conservation of its cultural and natural heritage to prevent the legacy from being lost so it can be passed on to future generations.
In 2012 TAO began offering opportunities for university from around the world to participate in the program as volunteer interns, acting as mentors and research assistants. That was when Explora partnered with TAO and started holding the program every year, with Explora providing lodging to the students and volunteers during the program and facilitating guides’ participation in the courses.