Accessibility links

Peruvian Student Goes from Machu Picchu to Yale

Peruvian student Cesar Moran had both educational and personal reasons for coming to the United States to study for a masters degree in environmental management.

“I was born in Lima, Peru,” says Mr. Moran, now a senior and in his last semester at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. “Lima is a city on the coast…in the middle of a desert. The reason I wanted to come to the United States was to attend this school.” He calls the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies “a very open school and broad minded school.”

Mr. Moran also cites his experience working on environmental projects at Peru’s Machu Picchu Historical Sanctuary. “Machu Picchu is the Lost City that was discovered by Hiram Bingham,” he says. “But what is really interesting about it is that I came to Yale because of Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu was discovered by a Yale expedition in 1911.”

He admits that his studies have been challenging, but the instructors have been helpful. “This faculty is amazing,” he says. “It is a very cosmopolitan faculty because we have, like, 40% of our students from all over the world. This gives you a broad vision of how people interact with the environment…how the cultures adapt to the environment…and what are the perspectives in how to use resources around the world. So that really fascinates me.”

“On the other [hand], we have fantastic professors and we have speakers from all over the world also giving their experience and giving more or less some suggestions on how to manage resources,” Mr. Moran says. “So it is very interesting place to be. Very interesting, very active, lots of opportunities…just amazing.”

Before coming to Yale, Cesar Moran had an opportunity to gain experience in the same field he will receive his degree in. "I used to work as an environmental education coordinator for the schools of Lima,” he says, “Also, I used to work for seven years for Microsoft, that supported Machu Picchu in environmental issues. So we did lots of projects like biodiversity investigation, public usage of the Inca trail. We did dry sanitation for little rural communities, reforestation projects. We published books about birds and orchids. We implemented a geographical information system for the sanctuary. We trained the park rangers. It was a very broad experience and very interesting.”

Because of his interest in environmental issues, Yale allowed Cesar Moran to plan a visit this past November to China. “I organized a trip to go to the World Toilet Summit in Beijing,” he says, “in which we discussed issues like dry sanitation and water issues and health issues. Toilets have lots of issues -- green design for example, accessibility toilets, new technologies in toileting, plumbing systems, etc. It is a very broad theme that nobody really talks about.”

The seven members of the Yale delegation had some individual interests. “For example, one of our students was an Olympian and she was interested in the ‘green’ Olympics because the next [summer] Olympics will be held in Beijing,” he says. “And of course toilets in Beijing are a major issue. So she wanted to know exactly how sustainable it is going to be, referring to, like, global warming, water issues, etc. Are they going to follow international standards? How will they do it? So different issues were in a sense investigative research by fellow classmates.”

As for Mr. Moran, “I presented a toilet design for a contest in Finland, a dry toilet design. So I hope I win something. The results are going to be handed out in March.”

Cesar Moran says the primary advice he would pass on to other young people looking to study in America is “to select appropriately the school they want to attend and make sure that the school they want to attend is going to fulfill their professional expectations.”

He also says international students need to be open minded in working with their classmates. “When you come from another country, the first issue is how people behave,” he says. “What you think should be done in a certain way is not maybe the way it should be done. So this is something that you have to be able to be broad minded [about] and be able to be harmonious with your fellow classmates to be able to fulfill your professional training.”

Cesar Moran's future plans may involve tourism. “My expectations are to develop some kind of consulting firm by which I could develop tourist products in different regions of Peru or around the world,” he says. “I am really open minded, but that is my major expectation -- to develop some kind of consulting firm.” He also looks forward to perhaps continuing his studies and earning a PhD.