Immerse yourself in village life in Peru’s Sacred Valley, on this South American summer community service program for high school students. In the course of one month, high school students complete meaningful volunteer projects, experience the colorful and rich culture of the descendants of the Incas, and visit some of the most important sites of the Inca empire, including Machu Picchu.
- June 23, 2013 - July 16, 2013
- June 30, 2013 - July 30, 2013
- Students completing grades 9-12
- Community Service
- Typical Group:
- 16-18 Students, 2 Leaders
- 3.5 week(s) (June 23, 2013 - July 16, 2013)
- 4.5 week(s) (June 30, 2013 - July 30, 2013)
Fly to Lima and head to Ollantaytambo, a town in Peru’s Sacred Valley, nestled into the towering South American Andes. Spend three days adapting to the altitude (about 9000 feet) and joining in a detailed orientation to Peru and to the high school community service program. Go whitewater rafting on the Urubamba River to get to know your group, leaders, and the Sacred Valley itself. Explore ruins in the imposing Ollantaytambo fortress to familiarize yourself with the Incas, a people whose influence is still woven into the fabric of modern Peru.
After orientations in Ollantaytambo, we travel to our host village in a more remote part of the Sacred Valley, where we complete meaningful community service while getting to know the people, history, and culture of Peru. In close partnership with the local elementary school, we help to organize volunteer construction and education projects, and work on them each day alongside our local friends. Specific volunteer projects are decided in the spring based on community need; in the past they have included building a classroom, painting a mural, constructing a community center, and creating and teaching language lessons for young students. In addition to group volunteer projects, you also complete an independent project based on your own interests: create a Quechua phrasebook, practice weaving, photograph local children and display their portraits at the school, volunteer at the village clinic, learn to cook a traditional recipe, organize a sports game for local kids, or spend a day herding sheep with a local shepherd. In the afternoon, after the work day is finished, spend time playing soccer with local friends, hike remnants of ancient Inca footpaths into the surrounding mountains, or relax and play music with your Peruvian peers. Upon successful completion of the 4.5 week volunteer program, you can expect to receive a certificate for 80-100 community service hours. Students enrolled in the 3.5 week volunteer program can expect to receive 60-80 community service hours.
“Whether it was singing and laughing at the dinner table, our continuous search for flat rocks, cooking and conversing with Freddie and Marie, learning Quechua, or hiking to the hot springs, this trip was incredible! I made an amazing connection with a family and their teenage son and daughter. I got a sense of what people our age are like in a different culture and I have stayed in contact with both of them since I have returned home. Peruvian people are so warm and welcoming!”
- Hannah Scott, Burr and Burton Academy, Manchester, VT
Accommodations in our host village are simple, but safe and comfortable. We stay in a dormitory building adjacent to the school with separate quarters for boys and girls. We form crews for cooking and cleaning, and help local cocineras to shop and prepare for meals of traditional Peruvian fare and more familiar favorites.
On weekend excursions, trek past a dramatic high mountain lake to the Lares hot springs or an Inca quarry used as a burial ground. Mountain bike to salineras - Inca salt mines – and visit the world-famous market at Pisac. Try your hand at the ancient practice of weaving during a workshop in Chinchero.
On the final weekend excursion, travel to the provincial capital of Cusco, a UNESCO world heritage site and the historic capital of the Inca Empire. Explore the ruins of the sacred temple, Coricancha, and the terraced fortress of Sacsayhuamán, the site of one of the most important battles of the Spanish conquest.
The community service program culminates when you travel by train deep into the Andes to explore the most famous archaeological site in the Americas—the mysterious mountaintop Inca stronghold of Machu Picchu. Spend a final day in Lima, reflecting on your experience and saying your goodbyes before returning home.
- Volunteer with local workers to improve the elementary school.
- Practice Spanish or Quechua as you play fútbol with Peruvian friends.
- Hike ancient Inca trails through the mountains to remote Andean villages.
- Sample regional specialties at one of Cusco’s many open-air markets.
- Ascend to the mysterious mountaintop citadel of Machu Picchu.
What to Expect
For most of each weekday, we are actively involved in community service work. This work, as well as afternoon and weekend activities, can be strenuous, and you can expect to spend most of each day outside. If you have experienced difficulty adapting to locations at high altitude, you should consider choosing another destination. Everyone participates in all of the group’s projects on a rotating basis, and everyone lends a hand in meal preparation and cleanup. Since we live in our village as the local people do, accommodations are very simple with separate space for boys and girls and basic bathroom facilities. You should come to the program with an open-mind, eager to participate in new experiences, and interested in exploring another culture and way of life.
At Putney we take pride in our reputation for careful, thorough planning and attention to detail. The descriptions of our high school summer programs are based on our experiences in previous summers and our plans for this summer. It is inevitable that some things described here will not happen exactly as presented. To get the most out of the Putney experience, participants need to be flexible in responding to unforeseen situations, and creative in taking advantage of unexpected opportunities. We expect Putney participants to share responsibility for the success of their experience.
- $4,990 (June 23, 2013 - July 16, 2013)
- $5,790 (June 30, 2013 - July 30, 2013)
Putney organizes escorted international flights. Please consult us for fares.
Learn about last year’s program by reading the 2012 Community Service Peru Blog.
This program begins and ends at Miami International Airport in Miami, Florida.
Departure • Join your group to begin a month of village-based community service in Peru’s Sacred Valley of the Inca. The group flight departs from Miami International Airport where you meet one of your leaders who travels with the group to Lima, Peru.
Lima to Cusco • Fly from Lima to Cusco, and travel by charter bus to Ollantaytambo.
Ollantaytambo • We spend our first three days in Ollantaytambo, getting to know each other, acclimating to the high altitude of the Andes, exploring nearby Inca ruins, and joining in a detailed program orientation.
Our Host Village • Take a short bus ride from Ollantaytambo to our host village, tucked into the Andes of Urubamba Province. Here, immerse yourself in village life and complete meaningful volunteer projects through our partnership with the local elementary school.
Weekend Excursions • Use weekends to further explore the Sacred Valley. Take a hike to the Lares hot springs or visit the Inca ruins at Moray or Pisac. Learn about traditional dyeing and weaving practices at a women’s textile collective in Chinchero. On your final weekend excursion, travel to the provincial capital of Cusco to explore the city’s picturesque colonial center, edged with Inca stonework, or stroll through the ruins of an ancient temple.
Machu Picchu • Board a train from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu. Explore this well-preserved Inca stronghold, world-renowned for its remote, mountaintop location. Hike up a surrounding peak to see these famous ruins from a new perspective.
“The program exceeded my expectations. It was so much fun, and even though at times I was out of my comfort zone, my group and leaders were so amazing that I always enjoyed myself. I also loved the mix of activities we did between hiking and fun weekend activities, sight-seeing and service.”
- Amy Monasterio, Newton Country Day School, Newton, MA
Lima and Return • Fly with the group and your leaders from Cusco to Lima, where you will spend the last day of the program. After a final dinner with your group, fly to Miami International Airport. Say goodbye to your group and continue on to your final destination.
This itinerary represents our best projection of the group’s schedule. However, we may implement changes designed to improve the quality of the program.
Background • Peru is known for its welcoming people, rich colonial and Incan history, awe-inspiring ancient ruins, and colorful music, arts, and crafts. Although rapid modernization in recent years has improved the economic situation of some Peruvian families, many still face chronic poverty, unemployment, and limited access to basic services. The highland villages of the Sacred Valley are home to many families who face serious challenges accessing education, health care, jobs, and diverse sources of nutrition.
Population • Peru is a multi-ethnic nation with a population of roughly 30 million. Indigenous groups make up 45 percent of the population, with most of the remainder being mestizos — people of mixed race. Our host villages are largely made up of indigenous people and have populations of less than 1,000.
Language • Peru is a multilingual nation. Though Spanish is an official language throughout the country, indigenous languages like Quechua and Aymará are widely spoken. Most residents of our host villages are native Quechua speakers who begin learning Spanish when they enter school, so most adults are proficient in Spanish.
“Our work on the greenhouse was definitely satisfying, but I felt an even greater sense of accomplishment when I succeeded in using my Spanish to communicate with the locals. At first I was hesitant to speak in Spanish, but over the course of the month I grew much more comfortable, and I was more willing to make mistakes.”
-Matthew Marks, Century High School, Rochester, MN
Climate • The climate throughout the Sacred Valley is temperate throughout the year with daytime lows in the 50s and highs in the 70s. Our host villages as well as other places that we visit are at high elevation — 10,000 feet or more — so after dark temperatures can dip sharply, into the 30s and 40s.
Cuisine • Peruvian cooking blends Spanish influence and indigenous ingredients, the most common of which are corn, potatoes, and rice. These ingredients are combined with chicken, guinea pig, fish, cheeses, grains, eggs, and fresh fruits and vegetables to produce the delicious local cuisine.
Currency • The currency of Peru is the Nuevo Sol (PEN). An ATM card is the most convenient way to access cash during the program.
Voltage • Voltage in Peru is 220 V, so U.S. electronic appliances may require a voltage converter and plug adapter. Access to electricity in our host village is limited, so we share outlets for charging digital cameras and other electronic devices.
The Community Service Peru program is directed by Kristin Westby. If you have questions, are interested in receiving more detailed information, or would like to talk further about the program or any of our high school summer programs abroad, please get in touch!
Kristin Westby: Luther College, B.A., Spanish and English Language Learning Education. Kristin spent four months during college studying abroad in Lima, Peru. She went back in the summer of her senior year to lead Putney’s Community Service Peru program. Upon her return, she completed her studies working as a student teacher in Wisconsin before joining the Putney Student Travel staff here at the Barn. Kristin coordinates programs in Peru and also works on the Admissions Team. In her free time she enjoys the outdoors, playing ukulele, taking pictures, and videography.
How To Apply
STEP 1: LOG ON.
STEP 2: HOLD A SPACE IN THE PROGRAM.
You can hold a space in a program by completing the Online Application Form, submitting a signed Agreement Form, and providing the $700 Application Deposit by Mastercard, Visa, or Discover Card through our secure online system or by sending a check to our office. Our admissions staff is also available to take credit card information over the phone. We will hold a space in a program for a reasonable time, pending completion of the full application process. See Step 3.
After March 15, we will hold a space temporarily as above, but we must receive full payment by check or wire transfer within three days to continue to hold a space in the program.
STEP 3: COMPLETE THE APPLICATION PROCESS.
Before we can make a final admissions decision, an application must be complete. In addition to the Application Form and Application Deposit described above, a complete application includes:
- Applicant Statement - Attach a statement explaining why you would like to join a Putney program and what you feel you can contribute to it. Your application cannot be processed without this statement. Approximately 150–300 words is sufficient. Global Action applicants’ statements must be 300-500 words addressing these questions, and detailing their interest and/or experience in the country and issues on which they wish to focus.
- Two Teacher Reference Forms
These documents are available as part of our Online Application. We review a completed application within a few days, and notify families of our admissions decision by e-mail.