Idaho State University students collect books for new library in Peru

Idaho State University students Misty and Geoffroy Prigent won’t be packing light when they fly to Peru later this week to participate in Crescendo Alliance activities.

The couple will be taking scores of books written in Spanish in several suitcases to help created a new library in the Maras region of Peru where the Crescendos Alliance, co-founded by ISU anthropology professor Elizabeth Cartwright, is operating health clinics and will be engaged in a water-quality project this summer.

“We planned to have a little library project, but it got big after some really generous donations,” said Misty Prigent, and ISU anthropology master’s student. “We have more than 400 books that were donated to us.”

Cartwright, who left for Peru in early June, took several suitcases of books with her; the Prigents will bring the rest. More than 300 were donated by ISU Spanish professor Daniel Hunt, and the group received book and/or cash donations from Travis Gilbert, the ISU Anthropology Club, the ISU Idaho Falls TRiO Club, Monte Hibbert and Austin Olcott.Geoffroy and Misty Prigent

The Free Little Library Project in Kacllaraccay, Peru, will create a small library so village children who are learning Spanish can have Spanish books to read.

“The kids didn’t have books to practice Spanish on so we decided to create a library for them and we got awesome results,” Cartwright said. “The library will be in the village elementary school and we hope it can continue to grow and help promote literacy in the community.”

The Crescendo Alliance, a non-profit organization, was founded in 2012 by Cartwright, along with Diana Schow, who earned her Master of Arts in anthropology and Master of Health Education degrees from ISU and is now a research associate at Friedrich Alexander University in Germany, and Justine Macneil, an emergency department physician.

In 2012, the organization created the first health clinic in Kacllaraccay, which sits at an elevation of 13,000 feet in the high Andes Mountains and is located near the town of Cusco near Peru’s famous Machu Picchu region. Since that time the Crescendo Alliance has expanded its activities.

“Our big focus this summer is a water project, looking at water quality and availability,” Cartwright said. “With climate change there is less water than there used to be.”

Misty Prigent, besides assisting in other activities, will be working on her master’s theses, researching the Quechua language revitalization among the area’s residents. Another ISU connection to this project is Emily Marshall, who just graduated from ISU with a biological sciences degree and eventually plans to get in medical school, who is heading down to Peru to be a director for the project.