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Peruvian Government Honors Dr. Gustavo Wensjoe

The late Dr. Gustavo Wensjoe, former director of the University of St. Thomas Center for International Studies, was posthumously honored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Peru at a reception on June 2. The event recognized Wensjoe’s tireless efforts to found the Peruvian Education Project that educates children at a school in the Huyacán district of Lima.

Every year, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Peru recognizes outstanding Peruvian citizens around the world. Joanne Houck, Wensjoe’s wife, accepted a plaque in Wensjoe’s honor.

Wensjoe and his 10-month-old son, Julian, died tragically in a traffic accident in March of 2009 while overseeing operations at the school in Huyacán. Wensjoe’s dream was to improve education for the poor in his native Peru. In 2004, Wensjoe created the Peruvian Education Project (PEP), with the help of fellow UST faculty, students and friends. PEP seeks to provide better educational opportunities for students ages 12 to 17 years who show academic promise despite living in the most destitute shantytowns of Lima.

During the ceremony, Peruvian Consul General Carlos Polo Castaneda described Wensjoe as a brilliant intellectual, excellent professor, frank and loyal friend, loving husband and adoring father whose charisma and sense of humor were widely known.

“With this posthumous recognition, the Government of Peru wants to express its deep gratitude to Gustavo Wensjoe for all that he did for those Peruvian children. Thanks to him, they have the opportunity to leave poorness, become better citizens, and contribute to their community progress and to our country,” Consul General Polo said.

“Gustavo Wensjoe understood clearly, the project was not easy and requested a hard dedication, sacrifice, imagination, enthusiasm and specially, love for each one of the children involved in the project. Last year I had the great opportunity to visit the school in Huaycan with Sheen Smith and Dr. Pierre Canac [UST associate professor of economics and finance]. The visit was very emotional and I could came to understand the breadth and depth of Gustavo’s dream.” he said. “All of us surely remember Gustavo’s passion when he spoke about the project … His life was a passion for all he did, particularly imparting to his students not just knowledge, but also the love of learning.”

The Peruvian Education Project continues the legacy of Wensjoe’s dreams with a team of dedicated board members and volunteers – many of whom are former UST students and current faculty. For more information on how to support the Peruvian Education Project, visit

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