Southern Utah University faculty experts to lead expedition to Peru

Machu Picchu stock image | Photo by DestinoIkigai, iStock / Getty Images Plus; St. George News / Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY — Southern Utah University’s new community travel program, Community on the Go, will lead a group of 30 community participants on an expedition to explore ancient wonders of the Inca Empire of Peru in May. Registration is now open for travelers interested in an experience designed to be fun, educational and affordable.

From May 28 to June 6, SUU Community on the Go explorers will visit colonial era sites and dine at world renowned restaurants in Lima. Participants will view ancient artifacts and contemporary crafts in Peru’s museums and markets, enjoy the colorful Corpus Christi celebrations in Cuzco and visit the Inca sites of Pisac, Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu.

Additionally, the group will take part in traditional Peruvian cooking lessons, textile weaving and dancing events and other culturally-immersive activities.

A woman walks a donkey in Peru, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Southern Utah University, St. George News/Cedar City News

SUU experts leading the trip are Dr. Emily Dean, associate professor of anthropology, and Dr. Iliana Portaro, assistant professor of Spanish.

An archaeologist specializing in prehistory of the Andean region of South America, Dean has conducted both archaeological and anthropological fieldwork in Peru. Portaro, a native of Lima, Peru, received her Ph.D. in Latin American literature and cultures, and specializes in Peruvian literature and women’s studies.

“While Peru is justifiably known for its amazing archaeological ruins, we also want to emphasize contemporary Peruvian culture on this trip,” Dean said. “One highlight for travelers will be the opportunity to take a cooking course where participants will learn to make a traditional Peruvian dish, drink and dessert, followed by salsa dancing lessons.”

Explorers are also scheduled to attend the Corpus Christi religious festival.

This celebration is incredibly colorful with traditional dress, music and dancing,” Portaro said. “It is simply amazing to experience in person.”

Established to provide opportunities for community members to travel and explore the world with SUU experts, Community on the Go 2018 expeditions include Peru’s Inca Empire in May, Halloween in Transylvania in October and Christmas in the Alps in December.

Trips offer adult participants opportunities to experience foreign culture, food, art and historical sites with an added element of education. Excursions include unique opportunities for behind-the-scenes activities, building friendships and creating lasting memories.

A llama in Machu Picchu, Peru, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Southern Utah University, St. George News / Cedar City News

“The purpose of this program is to offer academically rich cultural travel experiences to members of the community while celebrating our campus experts,” said Pat Keehley, Community on the Go advisory board chair. “We are pleased at the community’s response to our international expeditions so far, and we look forward to adding domestic trips to our lineup in the near future.”

Melynda Thorpe, director of the Office of Community & Academic Enrichment, said Community on the Go is just one of several new community outreach initiatives of the university.

In addition to travel, SUU is preparing to launch programs in 2018 including niche-specific Community Education courses, career enhancing Community Professional Development courses and regional educational excursion programs.

“We are thrilled for the opportunity to bring fun, culturally engaging and relevant short-term education programs to our community and region,” Thorpe said. “SUU has long relied on the strength and support of its local community. We feel that offering new and interesting courses designed specifically for members of the community is an important way for the university to give back.”

SUU Community on the Go trips are led by SUU faculty experts who have previously journeyed to trip destinations and share their research and expertise with participants. Activities and itineraries are flexible, and trips are open to the public until filled.

For more information, or to reserve your spot on an upcoming trip, visit SUU Community on the Go, or email For questions about community education courses, professional development or regional excursions, call the SUU Office of Community and Academic Enrichment at 435-865-8259.


Twitter: @STGnews

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