Building upon friendships almost two-decades strong, teen volunteers with VISIONS Peru will work on the construction of school facilities, environmental projects, and a continuously growing water irrigation system that serves farmers surrounding the home base of Urubamba. Participants will have the opportunity to strengthen their Spanish language skills with this study abroad experience, while working on community service projects and while visiting the Sacred Valley of the Inca, including a visit to Machu Picchu.
Community service in Peru combines adobe and cinder block construction. You may even learn the adobe process from the beginning: making blocks by stomping mud together with straw, forming bricks and placing them to dry. One primary project involves constructing classroom additions and facilities for schools in the valley, also getting some time with local kids. VISIONS teen volunteers also play a pivotal role in a huge irrigation system in neighboring rural communities. The project was initiated in 2001 and its success in water conservation has led us to expand the system every year, always working with the farmers whose crops are served.
PRONOEI is an education organization that provided preschool opportunities to poor and rural Peruvian children. In addition to providing educational resources, PRONOEI offers health and wellbeing support to rural and under-educated families.
VISIONS teens have been welcomed by “Urubambinos” for fifteen summers. The deep connections mean you are taken in like family. In a way, you are an ambassador in a place that shares in service and cultural activities alike. Spanish immersion will push you to improve your language skills while you get to know our dynamic project manager and driver, Nico; prepare meals with our cook, Neyda; collaborate with maestros at the work sites; and participate in “day stays” with families. In a neighboring pueblo, you share time and play games with orphan children. Through regular workshops you learn traditional pottery, weaving and beekeeping. The tranquil streets of Urubamba become as familiar as home—you will meet food vendors while shopping for our meals, and neighbors who share their stories and lives with you.
"I made great connections and have unforgettable memories. The community taught me so much about Peruvian culture and about life in general."
Travel to Peru would not be complete without visiting the heart of Inca civilization, Machu Picchu, where we spend a weekend and walk to the Sun Gate just as the sun’s first beams break over the majestic peaks. You also will explore the ruins of Ollantaytambo and tour the Maras salt mines. In Cuzco we visit Spanish cathedrals and the Plaza de Armas. Before summer adventures end, you go to Pisaq market, where merchants have been selling wares for more than four centuries.
Our home in Peru is a large rented home in one of Urubamba’s quaint neighborhoods. There are bathrooms and showers, a kitchen and communal areas, and a bunk bed awaiting each person.
We generally work five days a week and end in mid-afternoon. You typically get to choose from three different worksites each day—most are focused on development of water canals and construction projects at schools. One day a week you will be on “homebase crew” with a few other participants and a leader. The crew makes breakfast for the group, goes to local markets to buy food for the next meals, delivers laundry to our laundress, cleans our space, and enjoys a “day in the life” of Urubamba.
Afternoons and weekends are for excursions and activities. Some full-day activities of the longer program are condensed into afternoon activities for the shorter program. Games with neighbor kids, scenic hikes, visits to ancient ruins and markets, and time practicing Spanish with neighbors are some of the ways we spend the non-work hours. Some evenings after dinner we have group meetings to talk through the summer experience.
Meals include vegetarian and meat options, and healthy snacks as also available through the day. A cook prepares our dinners, which are a terrific blend of American and Peruvian cuisine, and always with plenty of variety to serve everyone’s palette.
VISIONS is not a teen tour with a day-to-day travel itinerary. We settle into our home and are part of daily life and local happenings. The itineraries provide an overview of some of our main activities in Peru.