Article originally published by: Riverdale Country School
This summer Noa Weinstein, a senior, spent part of her summer vacation in Peru with VISIONS Service Adventures, an international service learning program.
Noa was one of 20 high school students who traveled to Urubamba, a small city in the Andes, to do community service in outlying rural villages. Noa and her peers worked in the village of Habitat Illary, completing the work on a 30’ x 15’ preschool for children who previously studied in a makeshift classroom. The students removed rubble and leveled the foundation, poured a concrete floor, built eight columns with rebar and concrete, erected cinderblock and mortar walls, used the yeso cement plastering technique to finish topcoat the walls and ceiling, and installed two windows and a door. The group also leveled ground, and mixed and poured concrete for a sidewalk.
In addition to her community service work, Noa learned about Peruvian culture during internships with local weavers, bee keepers, potters, and other artisans. The students also visited historic and popular sites, including the Incan ruins at Machu Picchu, Cusco’s ancient cathedrals and central plaza, and a sprawling artisans’ market on the mountainside of Pijal.
“Service in the cross-cultural context allows teens the opportunity to make a difference and, just as important, know the people whose lives they are impacting in personal, mutually respectful ways,” says Katherine Dayton, VISIONS Executive Director. “We give students tangible ways to be challenged through ambitious service work, thereby developing resilience and self-confidence, and realizing their potential in this world.”
VISIONS Service Adventures operates high school and middle school volunteer travel programs in Central and South America, the Caribbean West Indies, United States, Asia and Africa. “Each of our program locations is unique,” said Dayton, “but all provide primary ingredients of community service, cultural immersion, adventure and opportunities to explore places off the tourist track.”