Dr. Paredes shares about Peru

Posted By Horizon Staff April 11th, 2013 in Features : 0 COMMENTS

Katie Pluymert

Staff Writer

Dr. Ruben “Tito” Paredes-Alfaro, Adjunct Professor of Anthropology, is an interesting man with a colorful story and a great admiration for Westmont College.

Paredes was born in the Central Highlands of the Andes Mountains in Peru. His hometown, called called Huancayo, is located 10,500 feet above sea level. During his childhood in Huancayo, the town had a population of around 100,000 people. Many rural villages and peasant communities composed the town. With a high level of interaction between city and rural life, the town saw people of different occupations working side-by-side. Those who worked in agriculture raised crops such as corn and veggies, and also raised animals for dairy products. Others worked in city and public services for the government, or       in manufacturing.

“There was a lot of interaction of city life and rural life [in Huancayo],” he described. “The people were very hardworking.”

Growing up, both of Paredes’ parents were teachers. There were six children in his family, and all of them attended a Methodist school in the area. Luckily for a large family like that of Dr. Paredes, fellow Protestants got a fifty percent discount on tuition. “That was nice for us, because we were a large family!” he said with a chuckle. “It was a nice opportunity. We got a pretty good education [at the Methodist school].”

Young Paredes knew that he wanted to be able to make a difference. This desire motivated him to study hard for his entrance exams so that he could begin his university studies at San Marcos University in Lima. In Peruvian society, primary school prepares students for a single test for admittance to university-level studies. The field is quite competitive.

“[When I took the entrance exam] about 5,000 exams were given, and there were only about 800 vacancies,” Paredes said. “Many people have to try once, twice, or even three times, oftentimes. Thank God I was able to make it in on the first try!”

“I think my Methodist education had something to do with that,” he continued, “so I am                     very thankful.”

After studying at San Marcos University, Paredes came to the United States for graduate studies. He enrolled first at UC Berkley, and then at UCLA, where he received his Ph.D in Anthropology. He also studied theology at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California.

In 1976, Paredes moved back to Peru with his wife to do ministry with the Quechua Indian population, walking alongside the natives of the land and learning how to express the gospel in their language and culture in    the process.

“Basically, [we were] contributing so that the Christian gospel could be expressed in the culture of the people,” he said.

In 2005, when then Westmont professor Dr. Laura Montgomery was preparing to spend the semester south of the border leading the Westmont in Mexico program in Queretaro, Paredes was contacted to take over her classes during her leave. He came during that time and taught three anthropology courses. Once again in 2008, he returned to the school to fill in for                                   Dr. Montgomery.

This year the department asked him to fill a position for two years.

Paredes believes in the mission of Westmont, and is proud to be a part of it. “It’s a part of the philosophy at Westmont,” he says, “being conscious that we are living in a world that is connected closely with one another. Wesmont is aware that there is a great area of globalization that needs to be taken into account.”

He continued, “For these next two years I should be here at Westmont, and I’m really enjoying my time here.” He is particularly fond of the people at Westmont. “It’s nice to have the company of the faculty and staff, and I really enjoy the students,” he said. “They are good students, nice students. I enjoy getting to know them.”

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