Last month, during my most recent trip to Peru, I had a couple of inspiring meetings with several young, talented and idealistic people, driven to preserve the cultural heritage of the world.
The first encounter occurred during the first meeting of the Latin American chapter of the association “Youth in Conservation of Cultural Heritage” also known as YoCoCu, at the National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology and History in Lima. I received an invitation to participate in the event representing World Monuments Fund, which I accepted gladly, partly because it was in Peru (my native country), but primarily because it was an opportunity to meet and share my years of experience in international preservation with bright-eyed, talented students, as well as with young professionals just starting their careers in the field.
The presentation by the YoCoCu representatives in Peru was smart, well organized and presented with great confidence and passion. The program, which also included talks by well-established professionals that sparked a lively audience participation, made me realize that the interest in historic preservation among young professionals was alive and well, and demonstrated that YoCoCu was fulfilling an important need by providing opportunities for advocacy, training, research, innovation and professional work, through their expanding network of international members.
The second encounter was a meeting with some members of the non-for-profit association: “Grupo Patrimonio Qoriorqo,” in Andahuaylillas, Cusco. This organization resulted from a 3-year training program supported by World Monuments Fund and the Parish of Andahuaylillas from 2009-2012, through which a group of millennials from the region participated in a series of workshops, site visits and group projects led by Peruvian architect Ernesto Noriega, who provided them with the tools they needed to recognize, document, interpret and promote their cultural heritage and the need to preserve it.
Not all members of this group are still actively engaged in cultural projects, but some of them, thanks to a grant from the non-for-profit organization OrigiNations, organized drawing, paint, sculpture and photography workshops, with a focus on documenting nature and heritage, for kids aged 7 to 11, in 8 communities within the Andahuaylillas district. Group members Jero Gonzalez and Edder Usca, recently completed the first phase of this project and are currently working on a second phase, which includes audio-visual production workshops, to be completed in 2019. The films will be based on local stories told by the participating kids who will also produce the plasticine dolls (Wallace and Gromit like) to be used for the animations.
Professional networking, scientific research, art, photography and animated films made by school kids are just some of the tools being used by young Latin American preservationists to advocate for their cultural heritage. It was refreshing and inspiring to see them in action explaining their research, asking smart questions, showing the artistic creations made by even younger kids inspired by their work and dedication.
They are doing their part, it is now up to us, the well-seasoned, experienced, late-career preservationists, to encourage them, help them along and find funding opportunities for them, so they can fulfill their mission and eventually pass the preservation torch to the next generation of budding preservationists.