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In-person workshops in Cajamarca, Peru

By Paola Moreno-Roman


Project in partnership with ”Enseña Peru”

Sunday October 15th 2023

I flew on Sunday October 15th from Lima (Peru), which is where I'm currently based, to Cajamarca. Cajamarca is a city located in the northern part of Peru, right around the Andean region. I flew with Margorie, our intern for this project. We arrived to Cajamarca late afternoon and went straight to our Airbnb to leave our things and get ready for the upcoming workshop.


For this project, we are partnering with an organization called “Enseña Perú”. Today we are meeting with a couple of their team members who will be accompanying us these next few days. I arranged all the items on the table in the living room and waited until our guests arrived. The workshop went pretty well, it was a very short one because we needed to discuss logistics. After a couple of hours, we wrapped things up and our guests left. Margorie and I got all the materials ready for the next few days because the upcoming days we're going to be pretty busy with back-to-back workshops and we were going to have to wake up really early tomorrow. Afterwards, we went out to a nearby restaurant for dinner and then headed back to the Airbnb to rest.

Monday October 16th 2023

We left the Airbnb at 7:00 a.m. today. We are heading to a school named IE 82111 Llushcapampa Baja. The school was really cute and the director welcomed us with open arms. We headed to their "computer room", which is where the workshop was going to take place, Three teachers, including the director, where, in attendance. Also, an Enseña Peru team member, Magaly. The teachers were able to successfully assemble a Foldscope, couple it with their phones, prepare samples, and observe them by themselves. Towards the end of the workshop, we took a little break to collect some samples from outside and observed them as they prepared their own samples.

After that, we hopped back into the car driven by the amazing Mr. Julio. We headed towards our next destination, Micaela Bastidas. Unfortunately, due to some miscommunication, a few of the teachers were not in attendance so we decided to postpone it to a later date that week. Things worked out pretty well because we were able to leave the packages at the school, had lunch right across the street, and then went back to our Airbnb to rest.

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Today we woke up pretty early because we needed to leave by 4 AM. I was ready at that time but the people we were waiting for arrived at around 5:20 AM so I was able to sleep a few more minutes. The reason why we woke up early today is because we are heading to a town that is pretty far called Pisit. We drove past mines and cattle. This area is very well-known for its milk and dairy products. We got to our destination close to 9:30am and got things ready for the workshop. At the school we were just going to train one teacher, so things went pretty smoothly and quickly. We were able to make up for the time that was lost on our way here. We asked the students that were in attendance to help us catch samples to see under the Foldscope. This part was super fun and cute because the students got really excited about getting samples for us, and with the teacher, we were able to prepare a bunch of different slides, using the samples collected by the students. Also, I had brought my tablet to the trip so I was able to couple it with a Foldscope, and show the images to the students. The students also had a chance to observe through a Foldscope, paper microscope, using their eyes.

The director from the school was super nice and invited us to stay for lunch. We went to a nearby store and the lady that lived there had prepared trout for us. It was delicious. After that we went to the second school we're going to visit today called La Zanja. The school is nearby, between 30 to 40 minutes from the previous one. We got there at around 3 PM and we knew we needed to hurry because when it gets really dark, it is harder for the students to walk back home. Lots of the students from these areas walk from their houses to the schools and in some cases it can be pretty far so we wanted to make sure we ended everything while there was still sunlight.

There were three teachers who were part of this workshop and we invited Mr. Julio, our driver to join, since he was just gonna be waiting in the car. The school is pretty small and it has 10 students who are between 3rd to six grade. Because it was a very small group of people, I invited them to attend the workshop as well. We all assembled our Foldscopes together, and proceeded to prepare the samples to watch them.

As soon as we started the workshop, it started pouring so we were unable to go outside to collect samples since it was still raining pretty hard. So what we did was we collected a few water samples from outside. It went pretty well and everyone enjoyed being able to use the Foldscope and observe the samples. Since it was starting to get dark and the rain had just stopped, we wrapped up the workshop, said goodbye, and started heading back to the main town Cajamarca. The drive back was long and I am so thankful to Mr. Julio for bringing us back to our Airbnb safe. We got back close to 10 PM, and Margorie and I still made some time to prepare the materials for the following day. We bought some sandwiches for dinner since it was pretty late and we went straight to sleep. 


Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Today we were able to sleep in a little bit more,. We left the RBB at around seven-ish a.m. and headed to a school called Apalin Alto. The workshop in the morning was going to be for teachers from two different schools, from Apalin Alto and from Miguel Grau.

So, in total there were 6 teachers. However, the Director of the school we were at (Apalin Alto), asked if he could invite three more teachers to attend the workshop. I had brought some extra materials, so I agreed and they were able to join the workshop. Since this was a slightly larger group than the other ones, the assembly of the Foldscope took a little bit longer but it went well. We were able to do all the things planned, including observing samples using your phone through a Foldscope.

We hopped back into the car and headed quickly back to downtown Cajamarca because we needed to pick up a few more extra materials for the upcoming workshop. Then we headed to the school Micaela Bastidas and had lunch at a restaurant across the street. It was really good but it was close to 3:30 PM so there wasn't that much food left. The lady from the restaurant was super nice and offered to prepare something quickly just for us, we thanked her for her offer and agreed. We ate pretty quickly and then headed to the school which was right across the street from this restaurant. We had already left the materials needed for the workshop on Monday afternoon so we didn't need to carry anything, which was good. There were four teachers who had signed up for the training, but the director asked us if she could invite four more and we said yes, because we had extra materials for cases like this. The teachers were really excited about the possibility of building their own microscopes and I am happy to share all ofthem were able to successfully assemble a Foldscope. We started observing some of the premade samples that come in the accessory pouch. They were blown away. The Director had made a small teatime for us so we took a little break and went to the room next-door to eat and drink a little bit what she had prepared for us.  Then I gave the teacher some time to collect samples. We were super lucky that a teacher found a bucket full of water and plants, upon inspection we realized there were some things floating and swimming there - most likely mosquito larvae. The teachers used the tools from their accessory pouch to catch some of them, put them in the little Eppendorf tube, and brought them back to the classroom to observe them through their Foldscopes. The images that they took were really good, and it made me really happy to see how a few of them truly mastered using a Foldscope and how everyone was able to successfully see images through their Foldscope. The goal of training them in groups is also that they will support each other when teaching their students how to assemble a Foldscope, use it, and incorporate it successfully in the curriculum.

We finished the workshop a little bit after 6pm. We had a little mishap with the person who was supposed to pick us up, so I ordered a different taxi to pick us up. Since we were super close to the place were we were staying, 20 minutes away, I wasn’t too worried about just taking a street taxi. We were able to make it by home before 8 PM and we had plenty of time to prepare the materials for the following day, buy some to-go dinner, and relax for a little bit before our final day here.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Today is my final day in Cajamarca. We have trained teachers from six schools so far and we just have one school left, which will be the training today in the morning. We packed in the morning before leaving our AirBnB, got all the materials ready, and hopped on our taxi to go to the place where the workshop was gonna take place: Museo de Agua. There, we met with Magaly from Enseña Peru. She has been an instrumental piece this week because she has helped us coordinate these workshops with the directors of each school. We waited for the teachers from “Cristo Redentor” to arrive. One of the teachers was running a little bit late, so I gave the two teachers who were in attendance some time to start collecting some samples.

After a few minutes, we started assembling the Foldscope, and as soon as we did that the other teacher arrived. So we were able to get in sync, finish the full assembly together, and started exploring, using our new Foldscopes. They were able to prepare their own slides using the samples they had collected at the beginning of the workshop. We had time to look at water samples using the black stickers they received. The teachers were so excited about this new microscopes and shared that they were pretty surprised it actually worked. After the workshop, I handed them the box full of Foldscopes for their students and then said goodbye to each other.

The intern, Margorie, and I headed straight to the airport because we were flying back to Lima late afternoon. Everything went pretty smoothly and we got back home by the end of the day. This was an amazing experience and I am glad that the first part of this project, training the teachers on how to assemble and use the Foldscopes, went super well. Now, I will be in contact with the teachers who received the training to support them as they train their students on how to use the Foldscope, incorporate Foldscope in the curriculum and their existing lessons, and brainstorm what long-term projects could be developed with the students in support of the community. Thank you so much to our partner organization Enseña Peru for all the help with the logistics and to our sponsor for financially supporting the work we do.