Challenging Assumptions

By Nathan Comerchero (PCV in La Libertad)
Feb. 20, 2024

While volunteering in my small Peruvian village, I had the opportunity to attend a cockfight, an event that, growing up, I had seen as barbaric and cruel. And leading up to the event, these were still my views, but I decided to go into the event with as open of a mind as I could, and it turned out to be an eye-opening experience that shed light on the community and the importance of communal gatherings.

My town does not attract much tourism despite its picturesque views, was buzzing with excitement on the day of the cockfight. People from nearby communities had come for a weekend of celebration that would be kicked off with the cockfight. Intrigued yet hesitant, I decided to attend to better understand the local culture. As the event unfolded, I realized that the cockfight was not merely a brutal spectacle but an important social gathering for the community.

The atmosphere was vibrant, with families and friends coming together to enjoy themselves. The cockfight itself was more than just a competition; it was a longstanding tradition that brought people together and fostered a sense of unity and camaraderie.

Cock fighting

As I observed, I discovered that for the locals, the event wasn't solely about the fights. It was more of a communal celebration, providing a space for cultural expression and a time to eat delicious food with neighbors and family. The villagers shared their food with me and passionately caught me up on the workings of cockfighting, the breeds, the betting, and the rules, which took a little to catch onto due to all the new vocabulary being thrown at me.

Through conversations with the locals, I learned that cockfighting had deep historical roots in their community. It was a tradition passed down through generations, and it wasn't about cruelty but rather a shared cultural experience that played a role in defining their community, although the cruelty was sometimes hard to avoid.

In the end, attending the cockfight taught me a valuable lesson about cultural understanding. What initially seemed barbaric transformed into an opportunity to witness the strength of community bonds and the significance of traditions in fostering unity. It challenged preconceptions and emphasized the importance of being open-minded and maintaining respect for other cultures, especially throughout my next two years of service.