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Peru cultural insights

The following cultural insights are intended to provide snapshots of the overall social and cultural norms as well as the workplace environment that a Canadian might face working in a specific country. The content in no way reflects official policy or opinions of the Government of Canada, Global Affairs Canada or the Centre for Intercultural Learning.

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Local and Canadian perspectives for the following subjects:

Conversations

Local perspective

Peruvians are very proud of their food; it is an essential part of their identity. Anybody talking about enjoying Peruvians culinary tastes is likely to make a good impression. Topics like Peruvian pisco (national alcoholic beverage and spirit produced from a variety of grapes in Peru since the late 16th century) make for great discussion. Tourist and archaeological sites such as Machu Picchu, Nazca lines, Cuzco, etc. can all be great discussion topics. Since roads are often clogged with traffic in Lima, it is generally a conversation topic, similar to how Canadians would talk about the weather. Although not recommended, if discussing politics, never engage in an ideological discussion. Any conversation about local or international politics should remain very superficial, avoiding one’s personal point of view.

Canadian perspective

In general, Peruvians are welcoming and very sociable. Jump starting a conversation is reasonably easy. An obvious ice breaker in starting up a conversation with most Peruvians would be food. In the last five years, Peru has risen to be the country of gastronomy in South America and Peruvians are extremely proud of the standing. Just over ten years ago when I backpacked in Peru, it was recommended in most travel guides to avoid Lima at all cost. Today it is a required stop and food is the main draw, so much so, that there are now numerous gastronomic tours in Lima.

Another topic of conversation would be Wonders of Peru such as Machu Picchu, Nazca lines, Caral, Kuelap, etc. Machu Picchu is clearly the most renown and also recognized as one of the world’s wonders but Peru’s landscape is covered with archeological marvels beyond the imaginable.

Otherwise depending on the circumstances and setting, politics and soccer are always guaranteed hours of colorful conversation. However, topics to possibly avoid would consist of Chile (historical rivalry), the epoch of terrorism and abortion and civil union; the latter two have definitely been topics of debate not only for religious beliefs but political divergence.

Communication styles

Local perspective

When introduced to Peruvians, verbal communication starts with the use of “Usted”, which is a formal “you” that will mark out different social hierarchies: age, education, respect, job hierarchy, etc. Nowadays, mostly in urban areas, such as Lima, middle and upper middle class tend to use “Tú” (informal “you”), a sign of modernity. However, Peruvians from lower classes and Andean populations will use “Ud.”, especially if someone is perceived as an important person.

For non-verbal communication, handshake is the most common greeting. While shaking with the right hand, it is common practice to touch the arm of the other person with your left hand, especially among men. When introducing a male and female, it is common practice for them to kiss each other once on the cheek. This practice is common among urban people, but not among Andean people who prefer handshaking and a hug.

Conversations and relationships can be affected by volume and tone of voice. Peruvians usually speak softly, as speaking loudly is considered disrespectful.

Cultural value orientation can affect the objective meaning of statements. Affirmative or negative statements can often be misunderstood by Canadians because of these cultural differences. Peruvians are not always direct in their communication. Sometimes they go around before getting to the point. At other times the speaker may tell you something he/she thinks you want to hear rather than what he/she really thinks. However, once immersed in the culture, one will discover that there is an implied code of meaning which is understood among Peruvians. Communication tend to become more direct and frank once you have developed a strong relationship with them.

Canadian perspective

Greeting in Peru is important, be it in a professional setting or social gathering. A firm hand shake and or a kiss on one cheek in the case of a female acquaintance is customary both at the outset of a meeting and as well upon concluding a meeting. While conducting a meeting, eye contact is essential and more often than not, greater use of hand gestures and amplified tone of voice.

Peruvians continue to be formal and polite with the use of “usted” (equivalent of plural you) upon your first introduction and a standard for elderly people (a show of respect). Equally essential, is the use of professional titles such as “Ingeniero” (Engineer) or Doctor (lawyers and medical professionals) otherwise Señor/Señora (Mr. /Mrs.) First name basis develops overtime as do short forms or nicknames but only to be used if prompted or have established confidence. Lastly, do not assume that in a business setting, everyone speaks English, the language of business is Spanish and it is advisable to hire an interpreter to conduct meetings. In a social setting, any attempt to speak Spanish despite an obvious accent or limited fluidity will be welcomed.

Display of emotion

Local perspective

Displays of emotions are not acceptable in the work place. Peruvians tend to show their best attitude even in painful or problematic situations. However, when most Peruvian are mad at you, they tend to express this by becoming drastically silent towards you, which could last for days.

Canadian perspective

Display of emotions is quite liberal in Peru, perhaps more so than in North America. It is not uncommon to see public display of affection, mostly the younger generation given that young adults still live with their parents up until marriage (gradually changing). That being said, not only is affection more heightened but unfortunately so is anger. Anger tends to be more intensified specifically when it comes to protests and strikes.

Peruvians use violence recurrently as a tactic to get a message across as dialogue is perceived and believed to be ineffective and drawn out in some social groups. Given the ongoing social-conflicts as per Peru’s ombudsman’s reports, there are no signs that physical demonstrations will teeter off. Violence has proved time and time again to pressure politicians to react immediately rather than diffuse issues. As a result news are plagued with violence and unfortunately insecurity is on the rise and perhaps part of the Peruvian psyche once again.

Dress, punctuality & formality

Local perspective

For Peruvians, good impressions are based on good physical looks such as ironed clothes, polished shoes and self-grooming e.g. combed hair and trimmed beard. Peruvians are sensitive to smell. Some people will use perfume, however, everybody tries to show evidence of daily hygiene.

In terms of clothing, Peruvians dress formally at work (not necessarily a suit, but clothes that conform to Peruvian standards). It is recommended for women to avoid mini-skirts to be respectful of the masculine gender.

Punctuality is very hard in Lima due to the lack of modern transportation infrastructure. This generates huge traffic jams all over the city from 6 a.m. to midnight. Employees often have to leave home 2 hours early in order to get to work on time. Most Peruvian bosses are very strict on late arriving employees. Peruvian employee do not have freedom to plan their work schedule, they have to work within the confines of the schedule provided by their boss or company. Everybody starts and finishes at the same time. Most late employees receive hard sanctions or could even get fired if they are frequently late. On the other hand, employees might accept to work extra time if needed.

In the workplace, colleagues may call one another by their first names, depending on their relationship. However, during formal meetings or events with external clients, they will be called by appending “Señor/a” before their family name e.g. “Señor Carlos” or by their professional title such as Ingeniero, Doctor, etc.

Canadian perspective

Similarly to the formality of greeting, in terms of attire, the work environment is considered formal although it can depend on the sector. Mining, infrastructure and construction are more casual outside of corporate offices. Much the same for social outings; women tend to dress more formally and elegant than in North America. Weddings are formal events. Contrary to ten years ago, Peru now has impressive shopping malls with many high end stores.

Whereas punctuality varies from person to person, there is no one template. In business, for the most part, people are punctual but tardiness is not unusual, mostly given the chaotic traffic in Lima. Deadlines are a guessing game at times: manana (tomorrow) can mean many different things to different people therefore defining dates and times are always recommended than open ended.

Preferred managerial qualities

Local perspective

In the workplace, the superior/manager is usually perceived as having more work related knowledge than other employees. He/she is expected to solve work related problems and make the most important decisions. Peruvians tend to respect a leader with such qualities as models to emulate.

Most leaders will develop closer relations with one or two employees in order to receive some feedback. These relationships are often with an older employee who they perceive to have lots of experience and information about the company’s work history and staff.

Canadian perspective

Most Peruvians work long hours; twelve hours a day on average plus commuting 5 to 6 days a week. Peruvians would prefer an honest, open and communicative manager. Managers should be direct within limits but direction is important in Peru without being a micro manager. However, with staggering rates of informality in Peru, such managers are scarce.

A notable difference between North America and Peru, is that in North America managers tend to give more autonomy to their employees than in Peru. Which is why, in Peru, the use of “perhaps or may/might you or if you could” is not common practice and does not translate well in the business environment – too ambiguous.

Hierarchy and decision-making

Local perspective

Peru is a complex society and is the result of deep inequalities based on ethnicity (Cholo / Criollo) that historically have shaped very rigid social class stratification. This has put people from Criollo ethnicity (people who claim Spanish heritage) at the top of the social and political hierarchy. This has an impact on the workplace, especially in the allocation of positions and duties.

Despite that, women and Andean populations have improved their access to education and in more modern times can be found working in public institutions. Senior leadership and managerial positions continue to be held mostly by people of Criollo —explaining this social dynamics is difficult to do in a short paragraph.

People of Cholo background are often discriminated on the grounds of credibility (even intellectual); this attitude can come from men or women. On the other hand, people who claim to be Criollo do not necessarily look like Europeans in appearance. In fact, if a Criollo and Cholo are dressed the same way, there wouldn’t be a physical difference between the two. This goes to show that ethnicity is often based on an unconscious bias and attitude deeply ingrained in the Peruvian mentality. The ethnic differences are more entrenched in the values, with Criollo people embracing European and North American values (modernity, progress, global life, leadership, positions, etc.) and Cholo people embracing a more rural mentality e.g. informality, pre-modernity, traditions, working class, etc. This class perception also affects women with the Criolla woman discriminating against the Cholo woman.

It is common to see job ads requiring candidates with “Buena presencia”, meaning a physical look closer to those of a “white” Caucasian. You will observe that TV hosts (for ads, news, etc.) are not representative of the look of most Peruvians. In fact, media projects images of beauty that do not reflect the cultural reality of most Peruvians. This affects the workplace relations, example, when a Criollo is subordinated to a position occupied by a Cholo.

Canadian perspective

Gender, class and ethnicity in Peru remains an issue of discrimination although it has improved considerably. Men on the whole lead Peru’s top firms and are the main bread-winners. Not uncommon to encounter an old boys’ club in many circles and can sometimes impede fair hiring and just promotions. Prominent families such as the Benavides, Brescia and Romero to name only a few are leading entrepreneurs in Peru dominating the mining, financial, banking, insurance, hospitality sectors, etc. The contrast between the ultra-rich and middle class and poor segment of the population can be a factor in organization behaviour and office dynamics. Women are starting to make great strides but mostly dominate in the household for the time being.

Religion, class, ethnicity, & gender

Local perspective

Peruvian Constitution allows freedom of religion. The major religion in Peru is Roman Catholicism which was first introduced by Spanish conquistadores, and then imposed by Colonial and Republican rule. Evangelical churches have been noticeably increasing since the 70’s.Peruvian Catholicism is practiced distinctly by two areas. The first, oriented more to European European and North Americanvalues such as modernity, progress, and global lifeispracticed in urban areas. The second one, associated to pre-modernity, native traditions, rural background, poverty, etc, is practiced in Andean and rural regions, as well as in suburban marginalized areas.

Andean and popular religiosity has a holistic worldview that also includes cultural, social, and spiritual values and practices. This concept has its roots in pre-Columbian polytheistic and theocratic religions and systems of belief. Despite the official dogma of the Catholic Church, Peruvian Catholicism is the result of five hundred years of syncretism. This is especially evident in the Andes, in rural regions, and, in the last decades, in marginalized urban areas where millions of Andean migrants live. In real life, a Peruvian can go to church on Sunday in order to celebrate official Catholic rituals, but at the same time he or she can rely on and still practice Andean rituals related to health and spiritual healing.

The official Catholic Church has influence in current political and social life. For example, Catholic leaders still intervene in decision-making laws by influencing the vote against abortion and gay and lesbian rights.

Peruvians in general are spiritual, whether they are members of a church or not. A key factor to remember when approaching Peruvians is that spirituality is an important part of their identity and cultural background. For example, during the elections of 1990, Peruvian writer and Novel Prize Winner Mario Vargas Llosa, then candidate to the Presidency, lost a lot of support due to the fact that he publically declared himself as Agnostic. Peruvians like people who believe in something; a suggestion for travellers is to believe at least what Peruvians believe.

Canadian perspective

One could say that there is social fragmentation when it comes to Peru. Peru is still a “machista” (sexist) society although sexism plays in favour of some women who still prefer the courteous attention less and less likely in North America. Homophobia is strong despite more public disclosures from congressmen, actors, etc. Tolerance for gay rights is light years away. Some could draw strong religious faith as the basis for refusal but it goes beyond religion. Peru has various ethnic groups such as indigenous, campesinos (highland), afro-Peruvian, Chinese-Peruvian, Arab-Peruvian but have yet to blend seamlessly into a rich tapestry of cultures. Much the same can be said for the small segment of ultra-rich integrating with the middle class and poor.

Relationship-building

Local perspective

In general, Peruvians like to socialize before getting into business, either by telling jokes, talking about informal matters, etc. Peruvians like the idea of “confianza” which is built on personal relationship and the use of appropriate differential behaviour towards others based on age, sex, social position, economic status and authority. Peru suffers deeply from a mafia and corruption culture, which has been affecting people’s attitude of trust.

Canadian perspective

Trust building is essential for a foreigner because of scepticism coming from both sides and likely to result delayed business deals. This might not be to your liking but beneficial in the long run. Aside from relationship-building, delays can also be the combination of lack of autonomy which employees possess as per Preferred Managerial Qualities. The relationship may have to reach a certain level before top management steps in to sign off and finalize a deal.

Families in Peru tend to be plentiful with numerous family members. Therefore, it is important to manage relationships carefully because one can easily burn bridges unknowingly and later on have a ricochet effect on closing a business transaction. Overall, Peruvians are very forthcoming with details of their personal lives. However, for security reasons it is probably recommendable to restrict information at outset until confidence is gained.

Privileges and favouritism

Local perspective

Peru has a culture of “Padrinos”. It is not uncommon to see positions occupied by relatives of important employees; even though they are not necessarily the best-qualified employees. This reflects the nepotistic corruption in the culture that shapes the Peruvian workplace. This is found from smaller businesses to the higher government institutions.

Besides special privileges, personal relationships with other employees could lead to requests for special consideration such as promotion or better position in the organization.

Canadian perspective

Trust does not usually convert into privileges and favoritism. That is not to say that some will not attempt to see if some advantages can be tapped into but overall it is not common practice. Peru ranks 35 out of 189 countries in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Survey 2015. However, Peru scores 88 out of 168 in terms of Corruption perception according to Transparency International. The challenge in Peru still today, is removing corruption within government and especially at regional level. With less affluence and also limited education, corruption tends to flourish.

Conflicts in the workplace

Local perspective

It is recommended to solve the problem privately. Peruvians will be offended if they are confronted in public.

Canadian perspective

Motivating local colleagues

Local perspective

Job security and better salaries will likely motivate local colleagues. Most Peruvians do not have good salaries, but are willing to put in extra hours if compensated appropriately. At the end of the year, it is common for the employer to offer them an “Aguinaldo”, a bonus or gratuity for their hard work.

Canadian perspective

Union movements and strikes are common in Peru. Road blocks and walking off the job for a pre-determined and approved set of hours is typical of labour issues in Peru. On the whole, mediation and negotiations thrive but in some instances deteriorate into violent conflicts. On a smaller scale, when encountering a work-related problem, direct and private dealings are the best method to solve issues.

Unlike in North America, employees do not wish to be confronted with their peers present and certainly better to address the issue earlier rather than later to prevent the issue to spiral. To keep in mind - an issue that often arises is the preferential treatment that expatriates and foreigners are perceived to be granted over and above their Peruvian counterparts. Now that the middle class is acquiring higher education, tolerance for such favouritism is on the decline.

Recommended books, films & foods

Local perspective

Books

Essays
  • Jorge Bruce. Nos habíamos choleado tanto. Psicoanálisis y racismo. Lima: Universidad de San Martin de Porres, 2007.
  • Guillermo Nugent. El laberinto de la choledad. Lima: Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas, 2 edition, 2013.
  • Gonzalo Portocarrero. Racismo y mestizaje y otros ensayos. Lima: Fondo Editorial del Congreso del Peru, 2007.
  • Gonzalo Portocarrero. Los nuevos limeños. Sueños, fervores y caminos en el mundo popular. Lima: Sur, 1993.
  • Jorge Bracamonte. Para no olvidar, testimonios sobre la violencia política en el Perú. Lima: Universidad del Pacífico, 2003.
  • Rafael Roncagliolo. La Cuarta Espada: La historia de Abimael Guzmán y Sendero Luminoso. Debate, 2007.
  • Tito Flores Galindo. Buscando un Inca.
Fiction
  • Mario Vargas Llosa. La ciudad y los perros.
  • Mario Vargas Llosa. La historia de Mayta.
  • Ciro Alegría. El mundo es ancho y ajeno.
  • Julio Ramón Ribeyro. La palabra del mudo.
  • El cuento peruano en los años de la violencia. Selección de narrativa por Mark R. Cox.
  • José María Arguedas. Todas las sangres.

Films

  • Gregorio. Directores: Fernando Espinoza y Alejandro Legaspi (Grupo Chaski), 1984
  • La boca del lobo. Director: Francisco Lombardi, 1988.
  • Caídos del cielo. Director: Francisco Lombardi, 1990.
  • Reportaje a la muerte. Director: Danny Gavidia con el guion del poeta José Watanabe, 1993
  • No se lo digas a nadie. Director: Francisco Lombardi, 1998.
  • Pantaleón y las visitadoras. Director: Francisco Lombardi, 1999.
  • Ojos que no ven. Director: Francisco J. Lombardi, 2003.
  • Madeinusa. Claudia Llosa, 2006.
  • La teta asustada. Claudia Llosa, 2009 (nominated for the 82nd Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film).

Foods

  • Astrid y Gastón
  • La Mar:

Canadian perspective

There is no such thing as a quick glance into Peruvian culture as Peru has an incredibly rich culture. That being said, recommended reading would definitely have to include the literary works of Mario Vargas Llosa, recipient of the 2010 Nobel Prize in literature with novels translated in over 40 languages. Through his books, Vargas Llosa tackles history, politics and the Peruvian cultural tapestry. Another author, who is essential to understanding Peru, is Italian-born Peruvian geographer and scientist, Antonio Raimondi. Aside from historical tomes of cartography he is also known as the most important naturalistic traveler in Peruvian history. Lastly, Martin Chambi, one of the first major indigenous Latin American photographers and regarded as one of the most important photographers of the twentieth century. His collection of photographs captures the people and landscape of Cuzco.

In terms of movies and actors, Claudia Llosa (niece of author Vargas Llosa) is one of the top directors with provocative movies such as Madeinusa, La Teta Asustada and No Llores, Vuela (Cry/Fly or Aloft). She won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival in 2009 for La Teta Asustada. Actress Magaly Solier, leading actress in various Claudia Llosa movies has risen to fame locally and internationally for her portrayal of Peru’s working class often forgotten and most of her movies capture the essence of Peru’s highlands. There is a great selection of television shows now available some of which addresses history “A la Vuelta de la Esquina” conducted by Gonzalo Torres; food “Aventura Culinaria” conducted by Gaston Acurio; tourism “Tiempo de Viaje” conducted by Rafo Leon and; music “ Prueba de Sonidos” conducted by Lucho Quequezana.

Peru’s culinary fame is in large part due to Gaston Acurio, chef but most notably Peru’s Ambassador of Peruvian Gastronomy; owner of well-known Astrid y Gaston Restaurant along with numerous others. Newest celebrity on the culinary scene is Virgilio Martinez Veliz owner of Central Restaurant rated 4th in Latin America’s 50 Best in 2014, 1st in 2015 and 4th as World’s Best. Peru had three chefs in the top 10 in 2015. Given Peru’s ethnic diversity, food ranges vary and traditional dishes include: Ceviche, Lomo Saltado, Comida Criolla, Chifa (Chinese-Peruvian), Japanese-Peruvian, Pachamanca to Comida Amazonica. Peru is gaining recognition for its chocolate, coffee, olive oil and salts and as an organic grower blessed with super foods. Over the last couple of years, artisanal breweries have crept up in the market (a result of foreigners in Peru) and grains such as quinua, kiwicha and maca, have allowed these breweries to develop unique and prestige beers.

Similarly to the culinary scene, music also tends to capture all three regions: coast, highlands and the jungle. Instruments such as the Cajon, the Andean harp and flute are a few of the instruments that create a symphony of sounds and music. Too many musicians and artists to list but classics such as Chabuca Grande still today are heard and emulating Peru’s new generation of musicians are Gian Marco Zignago, winner of three Latin Grammy Awards; Damaris Mallma Porras, Peruvian folk singer (also sings in Quechua); Nova Lima, Afro-Peruvian music; and Jaime Cuadra, Latin American electronica guru. One of the best additions in recent years is that Lima’s Symphony Orchestra is now housed in the stunningly beautiful Gran Teatro Nacional, a multi-purpose theatre and concert hall in Lima with state-of-the-art technology.

In-country activities

Local perspective

  • Attending processions in rural and urban areas.
  • Going to “Peñas” (Peruvian live music and dances).
  • Going to the digest informal market in Perú: Gamarra
  • Eating at any local market
  • Visiting a large literary scene: Librería El Virrey

Canadian perspective

In order to integrate and get involved into the cultural scene, recommended activities would include dance classes, music lessons, and nowadays cooking classes through institutes such as IDVIP, paragliding the Costa Verde in Miraflores or running in one of Lima’s ultra-marathons gaining popularity. Otherwise, by default, typical activities are surf championships, Marinera championships in Trujillo, Caballos de Paso shows and bull fighting.

Always available are the endless soccer games at the stadium and visiting the roster of museums in Lima and in regions (Chiclayo, Trujillo, etc.). A few days per year there is “Abre de Noche” during which entrance to any museums is free. It is a great way to take in museums at night. A flagship event since 2007 is Mistura, gastronomic food fair every September. In terms of fashion, LIF Week is now a must with up-and-coming designers showcasing innovative use of local fibers such as alpaca. Last but not least, travelling in Peru, be it trekking, eco-tourism or 4X4 off-road excursions outside Lima is the best way to learn about the culture and people first hand.

National heroes

Local perspective

  • Túpac Amaru II
  • José de San Martín
  • Simón Bolivar
  • Miguel Grau
  • Francisco Bolognesi

Canadian perspective

Considering Peru’s vast heritage, National Heroes would include famous Incas. Two of the most powerful Incas were Pachacutec, who, during his ruling, the village of Cusco (today the city of Cusco is a Unesco World Heritage) converted itself into an empire to finally expand and overtake South America. The other Inca is Manco Capac, one of the many sons of Huayna Capac, last ruler over the Peruvian empire who fought the Spaniard invasion although failed.

Other than Incas, the rest is majorly war heroes such as Francisco Bolognesi, who fought in the War of the Pacific against Chile and later died in the Battle of Arica; Miguel Grau, the most admired Marine admiral from the Pacific War; together with Bolivar and San Martin. Otherwise, recent personalities could include the likes of Javier Perez de Cuellar, the fifth Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1982–1991, Mario Testino, world recognized photographer of the rich and famous (royalty) and sports celebrities: Claudio Pizarro, Paolo Guerrero, Jefferson Farfan (all soccer players), Sofia Mulanovich (surf) and Kina Malpartida (boxing) but not to the same extent as historical heroes. Author Mario Vargas Llosa and film director Claudia Llosa have also reached international fame.

Shared historical events with Canada

Local perspective

No.

Canadian perspective

Canada and Peru do not share any historical events but share an excellent bilateral relationship. The Canada-Peru Free Trade Agreement has been in place since August 2009. Both countries are APEC members; Canada since 1989 and Peru since 1998. Both Canada and Peru are signatory members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership since February 2016 and Canada is one of forty two active observer states of the Pacific Alliance.

Stereotypes

Local perspective

Peruvians, like other people of Latin-American origin, can be stereotyped based on their informality, tardiness, corruption, passion, etc. However, in the workplace they can be as productive as any North American.

There is no particular stereotype associated with Canadians; however, in Northern Peru, the Canadian mining companies may not have a helped the image of Canadians due to their conflict with rural communities.

Canadian perspective

As with any countries, Peru does not come without stereotypes. Many foreigners assume that Peruvians are for the most part not well educated. However, there is a growing and important middle class in Peru and many are seeking higher education in Peru and overseas. When surveyed, most MNEs operating in Peru will concur that Peru has a highly qualified pool of employees, mostly in the streams of engineering.

Another common typecast would be that all Peruvians are tardy. Perhaps on the social scene it is true but overall, now that Peru is an active player on the global scenario with growing foreign investments, tardiness in the business domain is not well seen or tolerated. Another misconception is that money can resolve any problem; in essence assuming that anyone can be coaxed or is corrupt. Lastly, it is important to note, that Peruvians have very diverse ancestral lineages and therefore may not typically appear to be Latin but more so European descent. However, assuming that they are not one hundred percent Peruvian is offensive.

About the cultural interpreters

Local perspective

Born in Peru, Professor Luis Abanto studied at universities of Strasbourg, Waterloo, Montréal, and Ottawa, where he completed his Ph.D. in 2005. He teaches at University of Ottawa since 2006, and he is the current Director of the Bachelor Degree in Spanish. Previously he thought at Université de Montréal, Université du Québec en Outaouais, Collège Nouvelles Frontières and Lycée Claudel.

As a professor, his work is related to the teaching of Spanish as foreign language as well as Latin American literature and culture. In 2013, he received the Distinguished Teaching Award from the Faculty of Arts, and the “Outstanding Teacher Award” from the City of Ottawa.

In addition to his teaching activities, he writes literary analysis on contemporary Latin American literature; he is particularly interested in issues related to Latin American cities: rural migration and cultural hybridity (literature and music).

Canadian perspective

A Trade Commissioner at the Canadian Embassy in Lima, Alexandra is responsible for the extractive industry (mining and oil & gas) as well as leads the Corporate Social Responsibility dossier. Before moving to Peru, Alexandra worked in Vancouver as a Senior Director of Policy at the Mining Association of BC, specifically in the areas of regulation, governance and sustainable development. Subsequently, as a consultant at Stratagem Pacific Consulting, Alexandra participated in enhanced consultation and negotiation between First Nations groups and the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. Prior to graduate studies, Alexandra worked at the Canadian Council of Chief Executives as a Senior Policy Analyst on issues such as foreign relations, global governance, and corporate social responsibility as well as domestic social policy issues. Alexandra’s work experience also includes Stentor Resource Centre Inc. and the Public Service Commission of Canada. Alexandra holds a Bachelor of Commerce from McGill University and a Master of International Relations from Bond University, Australia. Daughter of Canadian diplomat, Alexandra lived and studied overseas. Alexandra has traveled in North America, Mexico, South America, North and Central Africa, Western Europe, Asia and Australia. Moved to Peru in 2007, married to a Peruvian miner from Cusco and is blessed with one daughter, Peruvian-Canadian.

Related information

Disclaimer

Intercultural Issues are intended to provide snapshots of the overall social and cultural norms as well as the workplace environment that a Canadian might face working in a specific country. For each country, two perspectives are provided: one by a Canadian and the other by a person born in the selected country. By comparing the "local point of view" with the "Canadian point of view", you will begin to form a picture of that country's culture. We encourage you to continue your research using a variety of other sources and to use Triangulation as an evaluation process. Although cultural informants were asked to draw on as broad a base of experience as possible in formulating their answers, these should be understood as one perspective that reflects the particular context and life experiences of that person; they are not intended to be a comment on any particular group or society.

You may disagree with or object to the content of some responses. This is to be expected given the complexity of the subject and the problems associated with speaking generally about an entire country and its people. We would encourage you to share your experiences; your contributions will help to make Country Insights a richer environment for learning.

The content of Country Insights in no way reflects official policy or opinions of the Government of Canada, Global Affairs Canada or the Centre for Intercultural Learning.

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