Gustavus Group Awaiting Evacuation from Machu Picchu Area Posted on January 27th, 2010 by

Machu Picchu attracts more than 400,000 tourists a year.

Twenty-one students and two faculty members from Gustavus Adolphus College are among the estimated 2,500 tourists and others currently awaiting evacuation near Machu Picchu in Peru. The group is on a January Interim off-campus study course titled, “Education, Healthcare, and Poverty in Peru.”

Extreme rains and flooding near Machu Picchu have made ordinary routes impassable. As weather permits, helicopters are airlifting people out of the area. The Gustavus group expects to depart in the next several days. In the meantime, trip leader Debra Pitton, Professor of Education at the College, is in touch with campus officials. She indicates the group is safe and morale is good under the circumstances.

“The students are very supportive of one another,” she said. “Everyone is lifting each other’s spirits. Parents should be so very proud of how the students are handling the situation. Fortunately, we are able to stay in a hotel and there is enough food and water. We also had a wonderful opportunity to see Machu Picchu on this trip. The students are appreciative of that experience and will come back with wonderful pictures.”

The weather problem has afforded a deep learning experience for the students, Pitton said. “We agreed as a group at the outset of this trip that we wanted to really understand this country and its people. This situation has certainly been an incredible learning opportunity in that regard.”

Carolyn O’Grady, Director of Gustavus’s Center for International and Cultural Education continues to work closely with Pitton, travel providers, the U.S. Embassy in Peru, the State Department, and others in managing the situation. She has been in regular contact with students’ families and has shared news of the situation with the campus community.

“We are proud of how our group is handling this challenge,” O’Grady said. “I’m not surprised that our group is responding with typical Gustavus fortitude and positivity. We look forward to welcoming them home, we hope soon.”

Here’s a video statement from Gustavus’s Carolyn O’Grady:


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Luc Hatlestad


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