“Would anyone believe what I have found?” -Hiram Bingham, American explorer and discoverer of Macchu Picchu

Usually, the impetus for a new VISIONS program site is the pull on someone’s heartstrings. A staff member has deep ties to a place and its culture, and imagines a perfect fit between that special place and VISIONS purpose. Richard Webb, director of the Peru program, was born in Peru. A military coup drove his family to the US when he was two. But he has returned every year since he was four years old to spend summers with family there and to travel the country he considers as much his home as the US. He writes this about Peru:

“After college I went to live and work there for awhile. I am very grounded in Peru by my family,
 friends and contacts. It is human
 nature to want to share special things with people you care about. All my life I have sought to share my love for Peru. So now, on the eve of our first summer, I am overcome with enthusiasm.”

Here’s an idea of what our VISIONS Peru program will look like:

We will fly into Lima, then fly directly to the old Inca capital, Cusco. From there we will travel by bus about one hour to our summer home—Urubamba, a typical Andean community. This summer we will construct an adobe community center, work on a farm, and spend time mentoring and teaching local children.

We will take it slow the first couple of days, for if the sights don’t leave us breathless the altitude certainly will. Our home base is in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, a tremendously fertile region that held aqueducts, irrigation canals, and thousands of miles of terraced farmland to support the once vast Inca population.

We will spend many days and evenings learning about, and sometimes participating in, Inca customs and culture. We may learn to play the pan pipe along with Peruvian musicians, or how to mold traditional clay statues from a master artisan. We will visit marketplaces where blankets, jewelry, vegetables and fruit are brought from the jungle, just on the other side of the mountains, to be sold on the bustling cobblestone streets.

The landscape of the valley, with its river, gullies, surrounding mountains and snow-capped peaks is ideal for adventure. We will go rafting and backpacking. We may even find ourselves trotting through a mountain pass on horseback, looking back over our shoulders to see the sun set behind mountain peaks and our own silhouettes

We will see the Inca fortress of Saqsasywaman, the first of the seven new wonders of the world with its 125-ton stone boulders, water fountains, and endless rooms. We will follow the Urubamba River and the Inca trail to Macchu Picchu, the lost city of the Incas, not discovered by the Western world until 1911 by Hiram Bingham. Hidden in the green mountains on the cusp of the Andes and the Amazon basin, Macchu Picchu is an architectural marvel with intricately carved stone walls, terraces, and religious altars.

“VISIONS Peru will be a summer of discovery and fulfillment. Of the five staffers leading the trip, four of us have lived and worked in Peru before. In fact, one of us was a teacher in Urubamba for a year. I am excited to begin sharing my special home land with Peru participants.”

VISIONS in The New York Times