The Student News Site of The Webb Schools

Webb Canyon Chronicle

The Student News Site of The Webb Schools

Webb Canyon Chronicle

The Student News Site of The Webb Schools

Webb Canyon Chronicle

Political turmoil forces Webb to move trip from Peru to Bolivia

Narineh Madikians
Webb students embarking on the Spring Break trip to Bolivia pose in front of Fawcett Library. From left to right are Michael Szanyi, Humanities Department faculty, Jamie Zeng (‘23), Wendy Chang (‘23), Marina Saeger (‘23), Jackie Shugert (‘24), Wura Ogunnaike (‘23), Ken Lin (24), and Stephen Hebert, Humanities Department faculty. This photo captures most, but not the entire travel group, all excited for the trip.

On December 7th, the Peruvian government almost collapsed in the span of a single day, prompting dangerous protests and conflict that has only escalated since December. In the morning, Peru’s former President Pedro Castillo attempted to stage a coup and dissolve congress. By the end of the day, he was impeached, arrested, and replaced by Dina Boluarte, his Vice President.  

This incident was the catalyst for protests across Peru, particularly among rural populations, which make up a large portion of Castillo’s base. Protesters are calling for early elections, Castillo’s removal, the dissolution of Congress, and a new constitution. Protests have become increasingly violent, and clashes with police and the military have resulted in the deaths of at least 55 people.  

In addition to civilian casualties, the protests have caused damage to roads, railways, and airports. In December, the Peruvian government had to airlift hundreds of people out of Machu Picchu, a historical site set high in the Andes mountains.    

As the domestic Peruvian conflicts escalated, Webb’s original spring break trip led by Dr. Linsley and Stephen Hebert, Humanities Department faculty, needed to pivot.  

“We will change our destination to Bolivia, an incredible place to visit in its own right,” said Dr. Linsley in an email informing the travelers about the change in plans. “In Bolivia we’d still be able to pursue our original lens of inquiry, exploring Andean religion, art, and culture during Semana Santa [Saint Week].”  

The other leading teacher Mr. Hebert further explained the reasoning.  

“As we looked at our desire to go to a predominantly Roman Catholic place and thought about Holy week in the South American catholic context, and as we thought about indigenous cultures and the interplay between colonial forces and indigenous forces.” Mr. Hebert said. “All the stuff we were looking at in Peru –– most of it was also in Bolivia.”  

While Peru’s political tensions may appear surprising to many, they have been steadily intensifying for a long time.  

“Peru has a long history of struggle with the Shining Path [Communist Party of Peru], and like lots of Latin American countries, with authoritarian leaders and CIA intervention,” said Dr. Susanna Linsley, Director of Experiential Learning. “The path to stable government, in Latin America since colonialism, has been fraught. In governments where popular voices aren’t heard through safe and regular elections and legislation, popular protest is an amazingly effective form of political action.” 

Then it was down to logistics. How can Webb students still embark on a fun, educational trip that provides a similar experience to the original plan without elevating the costs or adjusting the dates? The smooth pivot was a result of the two Latin American countries’ similar religious makeup as well as the travel partner’s existing programs. 

“When Peru was off the table, Bolivia, a high (altitude) Indian country with Quechua speaking indigenous people and strong Catholic roots, seemed like the perfect replacement to meet our program goals,” Dr. Linsley said. “Our travel partner, Envoys, already had a program to Bolivia, so it was an easy pivot for us, while still truly keeping with our original goal of the program.” 

With the details settled, Webb students share their own goals for the trip.  

“I wanted to explore the [Andean] culture and have a fun Webb-sponsored event that allowed me to spend a break with my friends that were also going,” Marina Saeger (‘23) said.  

“I’m very thankful for Webb’s opportunity to travel outside the county or just travel in general because I wouldn’t have had the opportunity without it,” Valeria Gonzalez (‘23) said.  

“When I heard that they were bringing back the Spring Break travel program, I was really excited because I would finally be able to do something I had been looking forward to for so long,” Jackie Shugert (‘24) said.  

However, students expressed conflicting sentiments regarding the switch. 

“At first I was kind of bummed out because I was excited to go to Peru,” Valeria said. “But I’m still happy that the whole trip didn’t get cancelled and were still able to go to Bolivia regardless.” 

“Honestly, I know that a lot of people don’t agree with me but there is a part of me – I know there is political turmoil in Peru but that in itself would be interesting to experience,” Aiperi Bush (‘24) said. 

“I think it’s a pretty rational decision to change travel locations especially because travelers have recently been stranded at Machu Pichu,” Dayun Suh (‘24) said.  

“As soon as we heard about the political coup, we knew we weren’t going to go,” Marina said. “Tension would not be resolved in time, it was an expected change, and I was happy when Webb came up with safe solution so quickly. It was smart on their part; they were prepared with a backup trip.”  

Despite differing opinions, the excitement levels building up to the trip remain high.  

“What’s great about the itinerary that we’re working with right now is that the skeleton of the Bolivian itinerary was developed by people in Bolivia, and it meets 90% of the goals that we had for the Peru trip,” Mr. Hebert said. 

“I hope that there will be opportunities to speak with the local people,” Jackie said. “It’s always interesting for me to hear different dialects of Spanish.” 

“They’re celebrating Easter holidays, and I thought it would be a great chance to learn more about the culture too,” Aiperi said.  

To students, the journey to Bolivia is more than just a simple travel abroad opportunity, but a chance for Webb students to explore various cultures outside of their comfort zone.  

“The purpose of our travel program isn’t to take kids on trips,” Dr. Linsley said. “This is an extension of our mission for unbounded thinking and experiential learning. So rather than thinking about our travel programs as trips to a destination we think of them as courses.” 

Ultimately, the quest for unbounded thinking and experiential learning continues regardless in Peru or in Bolivia. So long as Webb students immerse themselves in the Andean culture, religious traditions, and beautiful natural scenery, they are bound to have a blast!  

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributors
Jenny Wang
Jenny Wang, Editor-in-Chief
Returning after a transformative summer at Northwestern University, Jenny Wang ('24) is rejoining the Webb Canyon Chronicle as Co-Editor-in-Chief, bursting with fresh journalism skills. Jenny is primarily humble when talking about her talents and interests, she occasionally forgets to flex that she is also a pianist, flutist, comedy enthusiast, and badminton pro. As a prominent figure at Webb, Jenny serves on the VWS honor cabinet, captain of the debate team, and chapel council. Finding comfort in shows like Grey's Anatomy and Gilmore Girls, she balances the demands of her busy life. Jenny's academic pursuits lean towards humanitarian issues; over the summer, she invested extra time into political risk research, specifically analyzing aspects of Israeli lifestyle. Beyond her academic commitments, Jenny's mission this year is to infuse WCC articles with potent and well-balanced viewpoints. Her intellect, vibrant personality, and unwavering laughter contribute to an environment full of energy and positivity. There is no doubt, Jenny Wang embodies a dynamic blend of talents, passions, and determination that enriches both the Webb community and the wider world. Through her versatile contributions and infectious laughter, Jenny's presence leaves an indelible mark, reminding us all of the power of embracing one's passions and sharing them with the world.  Favorite Song: "Welcome to Wonderland" by Anson Seabra
Oma Sukul
Oma Sukul, Editor of Photography
One hundred kilometers an hour. Blink, and you’ll miss it. Hesitate, and it’s too late. But for Oma Sukul (‘23), Editor of Photography, it’s just another day of volleyball. Her lightning-fast reflexes not only help her as a varsity player out on the court, but they also enable her to capture spontaneous moments that are featured on the front page. However, Oma also treasures the slower parts of life. If one were to visit her home in Rancho Cucamonga, she would likely be found indulging in romance stories alongside her cat Lucky or singing along to Niel Diamond with her dad. She cherishes her connections with her friends and family, and you can always count on her to be genuine, friendly, and delightful in conversation. Born in Toronto, Canada, her transcontinental family means that she has roots spanning the Pacific Ocean. Contributing to dozens of articles last year, this year Oma seeks to further explore her creative side. Rediscovering her passion for the WCC's quizzes, she continues her quest to make the publication engaging and entertaining for all. One thing’s certain: whatever life throws at her, whatever the speed, you can count on Oma Sukul to spike it back with a smile.   Favorite song: “I am... I said” by Neil Diamond 
Wura Ogunnaike
Wura Ogunnaike, Editor of Culture & Lifestyle & Social Media Manager
After spending her summer in a lab for a science research program, Wura Ogunnaike (23’) is ready to return to the Webb Canyon Chronicle as a Social Media Manager and the Editor of Culture & Lifestyle. Reflecting her earlier efforts, Wura enjoys writing for the publication because of the freedom and wide range of topics she can cover in the process. This year, aside from having fun with writing, Wura is also taking on the responsibility of a Social Media Manager by utilizing social media outreach to attract more readership and enhance the reputation of the Webb Canyon Chronicle. Outside of the newsroom, Wura is a Jameson dorm prefect, where she always demonstrates the perfect balance between enacting leadership when necessary and showing kindness to her fellow dorm residents. In her free time, Wura likes to read, hike, and listen to Taylor Swift songs. However, her favorite song is “This is What Makes Us Girls” by Lana Del Rey. In addition to developing new interests, her goal for herself is to branch out in multimedia and work on social media-related publications. Some examples include podcasts or a photo gallery, which she has already exposed herself to during her first year of journalism.  Favorite Song: "This Is What Makes Us Girls" by Lana Del Rey
Shuci Zhang
Shuci Zhang, Editor of Audiovisual
Shuci Zhang (‘23) is a revolutionary. Originally from Beijing, she is a fierce advocate for environmental justice and several other social movements, sharing her bold ideas through her passion, podcasting. In the past, she participated in Webb’s podcast-focused afternoon activity, KWEBB, in addition to creating and editing her own podcast series, Calm and Furious. Some of Shuci’s other ventures at Webb include being an active member of chapel council, playing softball, and serving as president of the environmental club. This summer, Shuci had the opportunity to go to Washington, D.C., where she interviewed a climate activist who is a part of the Sunrise Movement –a progressive youth movement to stop climate change– like herself. This activist and many others inspired Shuci, who plans to incorporate their input into her pursuits both at Webb and later in life. When she is not fighting for the causes she believes in, Shuci enjoys exploring a wide variety of art in museums such as LACMA and reading nonconformist literature, especially Oscar Wilde. Tying her passions to journalism, one of Shuci’s goals for the WCC this year is to bring more media, particularly podcasts, to the publication so it can become an ingrained element of Webb news.  Favorite song: “Ceremony” by New Order 
Narineh Madikians
Narineh Madikians, Public Editor
Narineh Madikians (23) is coming back to Webb for her senior year as a completely new person. Along with her new position as the Webb Canyon Chronicle's new Public Editor, Narineh is also a head peer advisor and a member of the VWS varsity volleyball team. Even though her senior year is full of change, Narineh still loves humanities courses from past years such as Advanced Studies Creative Nonfiction. She encourages everyone at Webb to take this class as it has made a significant impact on her writing techniques. This year, she is focusing on the future while also trying to stay present at the moment, hoping to make as many lasting memories as she can before she leaves for college. After a long and busy week at school, Narineh uses her weekends to recharge. She loves to go out with her friends or stay at home and watch movies with her parents and three dogs: Jeckie, Dash, and Rex. At the end of the day, Narineh unwinds by listening to her favorite artists such as Mac Miller, Frank Ocean, and Childish Gambino. Narineh will use her new and old experiences throughout Webb, the WCC, and outside life, to make her senior year unforgettable.   Favorite Song: "Crimson and Clover" by Tommy James and The Shondells

Comments (0)

All Webb Canyon Chronicle Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *