SCBR Programs in 2014-2015


Summer Learning Internships in the Peruvian High Amazon

 Learning to Make Terra Preta and Construct a Biochar Oven And Learning to Relate to the Earth as a Thou rather than an It Dates: Month of July 2014; 4 weeks with possibility of extending stay.

Levels: Undergraduates, MA and PhD students.

Place: Sachamama Center for Biocultural Regeneration (SCBR), Lamas, Department of San Martin, Peru  

Faculty Resource  

Frédérique Apffel-Marglin, PhD  is Professor Emerita, Dpt. of Anthropology at Smith College and Distinguished Visiting Professor, College of the Environment, Wesleyan University (2013-14). She founded SCBR in the Peruvian High Amazon in 2009 which she directs. (

Learning Internship Description

This internship will teach students experientially how to re-create the perennially fertile pre-Columbian anthropogenic soil known in Brazil as Terra Preta do Indio (black earth of the Indians). Students will as well build  backyard biochar ovens in native communities on the model of the successful oven at SCBR designed by its administrator, Randy Chung Gonzales. F. Apffel-Marglin has been able to successfully re-create this pre-Columbian anthropogenic soil (which in SCBR we call by its Kichwa name Yana Allpa) and create extremely fertile food gardens on degraded lands in native communities as well as in two elementary schools and five high schools in the region, in collaboration with the school board of the Lamas Province. Students will learn from SCBR permanent technical team on its Chacra-Huerto project, Ingeniero Teddy Saavedra Benzaquen and Tecnico Royner Sangama Sangama, a deeply knowledgeable indigenous Kichwa young men. Students will be taken to visit native communities as well as some of the schools SCBR works with.

Additionally, under the guidance of Professor Apffel-Marglin, students will experientially learn to relate to the earth in its many aspects as a Thou rather than an It or a natural resource there exclusively for humans’ use. Since SCBR is in an indigenous milieu, the “cosmovision” of the local Kichwa indigenous people will help us to empathize and connect with that milieu without necessarily adopting their exact practices.

This re-created pre-Columbian Amazonian black earth of millenarian fertility, discovered by archeologists in the last 2 decades is able to give local farmers, both indigenous and mestizo, a viable and affordable alternative to their method of slash and burn agriculture. This is urgently needed since this region has the highest rate of deforestation in all of Peru and degraded lands where the forest is no longer able to regenerate are growing alarmingly. This type of soil has in it biochar, a type of charcoal that allows the greenhouse gases emitted by plants and bacteria in the soil to remain in the soil and not be emitted into the atmosphere. It is a permanent type of agriculture whereas slash and burn uses a field for only a few years, and then farmers must clear and burn another patch of forest to grow food. This type of biochar agriculture is both much more productive as well as able to strongly mitigate global warming at least three times over: by not cutting trees, not burning them and keeping greenhouse gases in the soil permanently. This recreated soil holds the promise of achieving food security and community-based food sovereignty for native communities as well as all small farmers and also holds the promise of greatly mitigating global warming. Much of this technology can be adapted to colder climates in the global North.

Additional Offerings

  • Students may also learn in the afternoon about Amazonian medicinal plants with Royner Sangama Sangama who is a walking encyclopedia on that topic and grows them at SCBR.
  • Students may also learn indigenous and mestizo organic “slow food” cooking with SCBR’s manager and Chef, Profesora Ida Gonzales Flores.
  • Students can learn in the indigenous section of Lamas, called Wayku, indigenous crafts such as ceramics, waist band weaving and more with an award winning Kichwa ceramicist and weaver, Manuela Amasifuen Sangama, at an additional cost of  US $ 7.50 for an entire afternoon.
  • Classes of Quechua taught by Royne Sangama Sangama.
  • COST: $ 1,400.00 per student; for the 31 days of July (July 1-31, 2014); includes room and board; local course related transport; payment to leaders of rituals; to visited communities; tuition

Students are responsible for expenses incurred during their free days, although SCBR will provide a pick-nick lunch as well as breakfast and dinner on the weekly free days.

This cost does NOT cover international air travel to and from Peru or to the city of Tarapoto where the nearest airport is located.

To reach Tarapoto in the department of San Martin, you take a flight to Lima (Peru’s capital), then a flight to Tarapoto (one hour flight; there are four airlines making daily flights Lima-Tarapoto-Lima) or a bus ride from Lima to Tarapoto (about 28 hours).  For international travel several major US airlines (United, Continental, American)  fly to Lima as well as several Latin American airlines.

SCBR will pick up students at the Tarapoto airport for the half hour ride to Lamas.


  • Send a brief statement about yourself, your interest in this internship and background for it to Prof. F. Apffel-Marglin at: ; If possible state the level at which you want to engage during the internship.
  • One letter of recommendation from a professor.
  • Deadline: May 15, 2014. 
  • Non-refundable deposit of $ 150 due on June 1st, 2014. (payment information will be forwarded after applicants have been selected) Full payment due on June 15, 2014.

Useful Links

 SCBR web site in English (also in Spanish and French):

 Accomodations in Casa la Sangapilla (the grounds of SCBR):

University of Vancouver Student video from summer 2013 course:

Worshop: Dates TBA

Tantric Ecology: Planetary Regeneration with Indian and High Amazonian Practices

A Workshop with Frederique Apffel-Marglin and Neela Bhattacharya Saxe               

This 7 day workshop will introduce us to eco-thealogical knowledge systems and practices in the two ancient civilizations of India and Peru where the non-human world has been a part of and continuous with the human world.  These are also civilizations where the entwined masculine and feminine principles are central.  The workshop will consist of Yogic and Shamanic practices as well as basic readings and discussions around Hindu, Buddhist and Shamanic visions.  The aim is to equip us with tools to help reverse the current global ecological degradations and enhance our psycho-spiritual health through effective methods of aligning ourselves to our planet.

Fee – $995.00, payable to the tax exempt Sachamama Center in the US, includes room and board for the week, local transport and tuition.  Small incidental fees for trips and rituals may be additional. Registration with non-refundable fee of $195 and full payment 6 weeks before beginning of workshop. For more information contact or Frédérique Apffel-Marglin, PhD. is Professor Emerita, Dpt. of Anthropology at Smith College and founder of Sachamama Center for Biocultural Regeneration in the Peruvian High Amazon.  She was a research associate at the World Institute for Development Economics Research (WIDER) in Helsinki, a part of the United Nations University, for many years.  She has directed several research projects questioning the dominance of the modern paradigm of knowledge. She has authored as well as edited twelve books and published over 50 articles. Among them are Subversive Spiritualities: How Rituals Enact the World and Rhythms of Life: Enacting the World with the Goddesses of Orissa   Neela Bhattacharya Saxena, PhD. is Professor of English and Women's Studies at Nassau Community College, NY.  Her publications include In the Beginning IS Desire: Tracing Kali's Footprints in Indian Literature, “Mystery, Wonder, and Knowledge in the Triadic Figure of Mahavidya Chinnamasta: A Shakta Woman’s Reading,”  “Shekhinah on the ‘Plane of Immanence’: An Intimation of the Indic Great Mother in the Hebraic Wholly Other,” and "Gaia Mandala: An Eco-Thealogical Vision of the Indic Shakti Tradition."


I. Course: Spanish Language and Peruvian Cutures: Learning through Gastronomy and Indigenous Permaculture 

Course Faculty: Barbara Rodrigues Marcos, MA, and Abby Corbett, Diploma in Spanish.Dates: July 2nd, 2015 to July 21, 2015. Presents the basic, intermediate and advanced notions of Spanish in a specific context, the high Peruvian Amazon.  Students will learn the various aspects of language including grammar, reading, writing, and oral comprehension skills based in the kitchen and the chacra (garden or food field). With the kitchen and chacra serving as the classroom, students will learn, develop, and improve their linguistic skills while simultaneously acquiring an understanding of indigenous gastronomy and permaculture. The aim of this particular course is to promote the acquisition of another language through immersion in contexts that imply alternative means of living, perceiving, reflecting and relating to the world. A sociolinguistic approach to language will be used in the course.

III.  Summer Institute: Ecology, Technology and Indigeneity in the High Amazon (Summer 2015: June 3 – June 28, 2015)

Offered by the University of British Colombia, Vancouver, Canada.

Application Deadline November 16, 2014 at 4:30pm. If spaces remain, a secondary application deadline of January 7 will be implemented. Dates: Summer Term 1, June 3 – June 28, 2015 Application Procedures
  • Apply via the Gateway portal with your transcript, resume and letter of intent
Program Overview The 2015 Peru Summer Institute:  Ecology, Technology & Indigeneity in the High Amazon will take place at the Sachamama Center in Lamas, Peru. The Sachamama Center for Biocultural Regeneration (SCBR)  is a non-profit organization whose mission is to work collaboratively with the Kichwa-Lamista communities in their bio-cultural regeneration with the goal of nurturing intercultural dialogue. This six-credit summer institute is open to senior undergraduate and graduate students, and offers an intensive four-week program of study, see course descriptions below.  In addition to course readings, seminars and writing assignments, students will learn from Kichwa-Lamista educators and community members about Indigenous cultural practices and ecotechnologies such as medicinal plants and foods, sustainable traditional agricultural practices, weaving, building and architecture, ceramics, music, and dance.  Through this holistic intercultural and international program of study, students will engage mind, body, heart and spirit as they experience worldviews and community practices that value other than global capital and geopolitical systems. Students will reciprocate by doing service work within the Kichwa-Lamista communities such as helping to build a tambo (Indigenous building of bamboo or earth with palm leaf roofs), working with Indigenous farmers to plant or harvest on their chacras (fields), or working on the bio-char (fertile black earth soil) research project to enhance Kichwa-Lamista food security and economic stability, as well as to save the Amazon rainforest from further devastation. Courses EDCP 467A/585C: Ecology, Technology, and Indigeneity in the High Amazon This course is designed to give students a Kichwa-Lamista experience of how Indigenous Peoples live their connections between their epistemologies, ecologies, and technologies. The seminars will provide students with the theories and political histories of the struggles of Indigenous Peoples globally and regionally to retain their cultural autonomy, protect their lands from encroachment, and “talk back” to global capital, political and education systems about the “equivalency” of their worldviews, epistemologies and technological ecoliteracies. Students will work on the communal chacra-huerto (permaculture) research project making terra preta de indio (Quechua black earth) and/ or other Indigenous technological activities such as constructing a tambo (building of bamboo or earth with palm leaf roofs), working with the Kichwa-Lamista farmers to plant or harvest on their chacras (fields), weaving, and preparing meals. EDCP 467B/EDCP 585E:  Narrativity, Indigeneity and Ecopedagogy This seminar course examines the intersections of narrativity, Indigeneity, ecology, and literacy. For Indigenous peoples, narrativities are covalently linked with their sources to demonstrate respect, relationality, compassion and reciprocity.  Storying has long served First Peoples as an educational and survival practice, engaging through sharing and resituating, through awareness training opening oneself to the world.  Being able to ‘read’ the land, the sky, the currents of the waters, how a raven flies, how a fish swims, the presence or not of insects, moss, lichen, bark, accustomed sounds, the signs of presence or absence, the freshness of tracks and traces, the weather and the predicative ‘meanings’ inscribed within storying have always been key aspects of Indigenous pedagogies. Not only the visual, but the auditory, olfactory, tactile, gustatory, and intuitional senses are important reading and transliterating agencies to connect, resituate, and regenerate.  Based on their own lived experiences, and their experiences with the Kichwa-Lamanista communities, students will reflect on the diversity and complexity of Indigenous ecoliteracy ‘trackings’ and ‘readings’, and how they might inform and reshape mainstream educational discourses. Faculty
Dr. Peter Cole Peter Cole is a member of the Douglas First Nation, one of the Stl’atl’imx communities in SW British Columbia, and also has Celtic heritage.
Dr. Pat O’Riley Pat has taught at universities in Aotearoa-New Zealand, Canada, and the United States, in large urban centres, in remote northern communities and on First Nations reserves. Contact For questions regarding applying, trip preparations, finances/financial awards, course content, trip details, fitting this program into academic studies, eligibility, withdrawal/refunds or any other general student advising, please contact Shareen Chin, Go Global Group Study Advisor, at
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