– High School Summer Program Itinerary –
The actual flow of the schedule may be a little different due to the flow of service projects, weather or impromptu community events that we are invited to.
Day 1: High school volunteers arrive at the Lima airport, where VISIONS leaders meet participants and fly with them to Cuzco. All teens make a quick call home before the group drives to Urubamba. (Additional calls home happen about once a week, but as with all VISIONS locations, this is otherwise a tech free teen summer program.)
Greeted by our professional driver and project coordinator, Nico, we make the one-hour gorgeous drive into the Sacred Valley and our homebase in Urubamba. We settle in and begin our program orientation, including our first Circle meeting to start getting to know each other.
We then come together for a Cena de Bienvenida (welcome dinner) with community members. Our cook prepares a delicious Peruvian meal!
Circle meetings continue every other evening throughout the program.
Day 2: Orientation and workshops to get grounded in the experience ahead! We meet our maestros, who begin to show us how to mix cement and adobe, lay bricks and use tools properly. Other projects include building a network of irrigation canales in the rural community of Yanahuara and working with kids at a local Spanish-English language school.
Unique to our Peru program, we also take part in a Pachamama ceremony (a gift to the earth), led by a local spiritual leader.
Days 3 – 6: We jump full into our projects and participants get to choose their worksites most days. We also launch into “homebase crew” days with rotating groups that prepare breakfast and lunch, deliver laundry, clean our living space and shop for our next meals at local markets.
After work ends around 2 pm, we do a scavenger hunt to familiarize ourselves with Urubamba and our boundaries, and then begin with rotating workshops that continue through the program and include pottery, chocolate-making, jewelry, beekeeping and carpentry. On one afternoon we explore the archeological ruins at Moray and also marvel at the nearby terraced hillsides of the special village of Chinchero.
During Circle meetings, our group transitions into the “working stage,” delving into activities to learn more about constructive feedback and effective community building.
Read more about daily life on VISIONS programs.
Day 7: You and a couple other participants visit a local family in the Yanahuara community and experience a day in their life. You may help in the fields, learn to cook a traditional Peruvian dish, and play with their kids, all the while immersing yourself in the Spanish language and the local culture.
Day 8: Explore the Saqsaywaman ruins in the hills overlooking Cuzco, then head into the bustling colonial city to visit artisan markets and sightsee around the historic Plaza de Armas.
Days 9 – 13: A packed week of service projects and real progress is made with community partners. In the afternoons, we continue to rotate through our workshops, play soccer with the local friends, host an Andean band for music and dancing, and maybe even do karaoke at a local restaurant.
One afternoon we hike the mountaintop ruins of Pisac, from which you have a view of the whole Sacred Valley, and then go into town for one of the largest Andean artisan markets, featuring traditional Peruvian textiles, crafts and jewelry.
Days 14 & 15: This is our Machu Picchu excursion! We spend the first morning exploring the town and archeological site of Ollantaytambo before catching a tourist train to Aguas Calientes, the town at the base of Machu Picchu. After dinner at a popular restaurant and night at a small hotel, we wake early the next morning for a sunrise hike to the world-famous ruins. We learn the history of the Incas with a guide before exploring on our own. After an exhilarating day we take the train back home to Urubamba.
Days 16 – 19: By our final week, you know how to mix cement, pass baldes down the line at the irrigation site, properly lay bricks, and how to understand and be understood by new friends who speak little or no English. We complete our projects and reflect on our successes together.
During the afternoons, we continue with talleres, have “Bamba time” (blocks of free time in Urubamba), and also visit Salineras, nearby salt flats that have been in continuous use since the time of the Incas. One night we go stargazing from a nearby lookout with no light pollution and another evening is the popular VISIONS Talent Show!
Circle meetings and our time bonding as a group also take on new meaning as we transition into thinking about how the summer experience might continue to play into our lives back home.
Day 20: During our final full day, we wrap up worksites, do a big clean of homebase and start to pack up. That night we host a Cena de Despedida celebration to say goodbye to friends in the community.
Day 21: Leaders fly with participants from Cuzco to Lima, and see everyone off from there. Hasta la próxima!