Projects in Peru

Environmental education at Colegio José de la Torre Ugarte, Peru

Paracas, Pisco December 16, 2023

On December 14, Nancy Duman and Werner Knauf visited the Colegio José de la Torre in Pisco. The elementary school teaches about 600 pupils in two shifts – in the mornings and afternoons - and is one of Acorema's oldest cooperation partners. For over 20 years the school’s teachers have been committed to environmental education.

While the children were still playing in the school's very large courtyard, the mascot Pisko  prepared for her performance – with the prevailing high temperatures a real challenge for the wearer of the costume. About 100-200 children gathered in class groups waiting for Piskos performance - more or less in rank and file. A teacher briefly introduced Nancy Duman from Chile and Werner Knauf from Germany as representatives of Sphenisco. Surprisingly, the "Presidente" of the association was given an active role. After a brief greeting to the children and teachers, he handed the principal of the school a large plush penguin, a gift from Acorema and Sphenisco for activities related to the "Animal of the Year 2024-2025".

In a democratic process, the Humboldt penguin was recently chosen to be "Animal of the Year 2024-2025" at the Colegio José de la Torre. The animals considered were the Chuita, Chilean Pelican (Pelicano Peruano), Leatherback Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), Humboldt Penguin (Pingüino de Humboldt) and Peruvian Tern (Gavotin Peruana). Each class campaigned for one of the animals. The children informed themselves thoroughly about "their" animal species, collected arguments as to why it should be the focus of the activities and tried to convince their classmates. The Humboldt penguin received 48% of the votes and won the competition by a large margin. Acorema regularly supports the school with teaching materials such as the plush penguin. Currently the Señora Milagros team has lent the mascot Pisko to the school for a guest performance.

After the director's thanks, Pisko made his grand appearance. To the song "Cholito" - "... we believe that you were born in Peru, Cholito ..." - he danced in front of the pupils, encouraged them to sing and clap along and took their hearts by storm. Like a star, Pisko then took time for group photos with the children.

Meanwhile, the principal invited guests and teachers to have mineral water and lemon cake. He reported that the school had been certified as an environmental school and had won the  second place in the "Environmental Activities" competition last year. The teachers described how they combine their various subjects with the topic environment, how they are always active with the pupils in the community and involve parents in these activities. At Colegio José de la Torre, environmental education is meanwhile part of the identity, so finally the school does not need Acorema's input any longer.

After a long lunch break an election campaign took place. Protagonists of the leatherback turtle, the Chilean pelican and the Humboldt penguin once again presented "their" animals to the guests. With distributed roles, 5-6 pupils each provided information characterizing "their" animal, described its habitat, explained its kind of endangerment and suggested protective measures. Some found it difficult to speak freely. They sometimes lost their thread and helped themselves by reading from their posters. Others performed like born speakers. They promoted "their" animal fluently and with great enthusiasm. They were all applauded for their skills, courage and effort. At the end, each child proudly presented his or her self-painted pictures of Humboldt penguins to the guests. They also gave away presents again. Two children handed Nancy and Werner their handmade Humboldt penguins with the slogan "no botar basura al mar" ("Don't throw any garbage into the sea!") (see pictures). If these children were in charge, the Humboldt Penguin would be saved!


translated by Angelika Veelken, partly using and


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