Key School Custom Program
& Community Building
Key School’s interest in a Custom Program with VISIONS indicates a commitment to the profound learning that happens when groups of people undertake meaningful projects in another culture.
VISIONS has worked in Urubamba, Peru, for 24 years. We have seen that these long-term relationships are the foundation for creating mutual understanding and real change.
We invite you to be an extension of the relationships that we have forged, to have fun and make a difference!
“I gained a wider perspective of the world and gratitude for my life. By going on this trip, I have learned so much more about the world, others, and myself, and I feel that it has made me a better person.”
Custom Programs contain elements of a VISIONS summer program along with ingredients tailored to meet the goals of your group
When the objectives of the program are met, participants will:
- Increase their knowledge of the culture, history and society of the host community
- Gain the community living skills required to thrive as a group
- Develop the hard skills required on a worksite, including tool use
- Develop a respect for diversity, in the broadest sense
- Increase confidence as contributing members of society
- Increase positive attitudes towards interacting, learning and exploring across cultures
- Meaningful Service Work: Choose from multiple projects each day
- Cultural Exchange: Live and work as part of the community
- Adventurous Exploration: See some of the area’s best sights
- Reflection & Community Building: Group meetings to reflect on the experience
SERVICE & IMMERSION
The work involves ambitious projects that may be a combination of construction work and social service. Projects are done with community members and participants get to choose from two or three different worksites each day. In one to two weeks in Peru, we are often able to complete the majority of a new school classroom or additional water canal system for an agricultural community. If there are enough participants, we can also help instruct English and other activities in school.
After work ends around 2 pm, the rest of the day includes cultural exchanges, recreation and other activities anchored in the community. We typically set aside one or two full-day activities or excursions for every five work days. Your group will experience the “must-see” sights along with activities that come from long-standing relationships in the community.
In addition to the spontaneous and ongoing community building we do with our local hosts, we meet as a group a few evenings a week in order to reflect on the volunteer and cultural experiences, and to listen to what others have to share.
“My VISIONS program was absolutely amazing. I was surrounded by the most incredible people 24/7, and that really makes a trip like this.”
The picturesque Urubamba Valley was first settled by ancient Peruvians, who were drawn by the mild climate and fertile river basin near Machu Picchu. Today, the town of Urubamba bustles with the activities of farmers and producers, artisans and craftspeople, and a vibrant array of Quechua traditions.
Your Home in Peru
You’ll be amazed by how quickly the cobblestone byways of Urubamba become as familiar as the streets in your hometown. VISIONS has been working with this community for nearly two decades, which means our relationships with locals run deep and strong. On this foundation of mutual trust and respect, you’ll make your own connections by hanging out with locals daily, while shopping at the farmers market, working alongside maestros on service projects, making traditional foods with our house cook, Neyda, learning about Incan history from project manager Nico, and playing soccer with “Urubambino” kids. All this conversation means ample opportunities to practice speaking Spanish and, more importantly, listen to the stories of people from another culture.
“I wanted you to know that things could not have been better with the trip. VISIONS leaders were attentive, energetic, intuitive, and kindly firm, just as I would have hoped. We worked well as a team and the students rose to the challenges facing them.”
WORK HARD, PLAY HARD
Our time will be service-focused, and in the cross-cultural context of working and spending time with our Peruvian friends. Our after-work activities will be a blend of cultural immersion and adventure. The following gives an overview of a typical 9-day program.
Arrival (Day One)
- Flight arrival to Cuzco met by VISIONS staff
- Approx. 1-hour drive to our homebase
- Settle in / unpack / orientation / town tour
- Bienvenida Welcome Dinner!
Work / Activity Days (5 or 6 total)
- Breakfasts at homebase
- Rotating worksites and homebase crews
- End work ~ 2 pm
- Afternoon activities*
- Dinners at homebase
- Evening activities*
Full Excursion Day (1 or 2)
- Machu Picchu (early morning train from Ollantaytambo, partial day at ruins, return on evening train)
- Additional option: Take a full day for Pisac or Chinchero ruins & artisan market
- Travel to departure airport & hasta lluego!
Accommodations: We live together in a rented house in a neighborhood of Urubamba. Accommodations are basic, but clean and comfortable. There are several bunk rooms, bathrooms and showers, running water, and an indoor patio for gathering. A full packing list is provided before the program.
Food: Meals and snacks are varied and healthy. Members of the group take turns preparing breakfasts and lunches, and a local cook prepares our dinners. Vegetarian options are available and participants with special food requirements provide that information before the program begins.
*AFTERNOON & EVENING ACTIVITIES
- Learn local crafts including pottery, chocolate-making, weaving and jewelry making
- Visit the Moray and Chinchero ruins in the Sacred Valley
- Tour the Salineras salt flats, used by ancient and contemporary Peruvians
- Shop at the Pisac artisan market—one of the largest in South America
- Take dance classes, play soccer with locals, and use “Bamba time” to explore town
- Spend a whole day with a local family in a neighboring town
- Go stargazing, listen to live music and share stories by a bonfire
- Explore the magnificent ruins of Machu Picchu during a one- or two-day excursion (if time allows)
When VISIONS began working in Peru in 1999, one of our first connections was with Nico Jara. He began as our professional driver that first year, but he quickly proved himself so talented and capable on many fronts, he became our project coordinator. He’s also a close friend, whose knowledge about the Sacred Valley runs deep.
Nico is with our program every day the kids are there, and digs in alongside us at worksites. He’s eager to laugh, joke around, and as a great soccer player, he spearheads plenty of games during the summer. Of Quechua descent (the indigenous people of the Andes), Nico speaks fluent Quechua and Spanish, but he knows only a few words of English, so there are ample opportunities to practice a lot of Spanish when they become his friends.
A professional driver during the rest of the year, Nico is going on 60 but could pass for half that. His wife Berta is a licensed nurse at the local clinic in Cuzco. They have two daughters; their youngest, Patty, worked with VISIONS the summer of 2014.
Nico’s favorite part of the VISIONS summer is helping the rural campo communities in Yanahuara, where we do many irrigation projects. He is particularly passionate about our work with irrigation and water conservation, which helps farmers keep their crops and livelihoods.
Nico loves to say, “Everything is possible.” His tireless physical contributions are matched only by his relentless optimism and positivism. It’s infectious. So much so, there are now countless VISIONS students and leaders who during their time in Urubamba came to share his belief, and have carried the idea that everything is possible out into the world.
Peru Blog Posts
Check it out:
VISIONS Featured In The New York Times!