15 & 21 Days
High School Service Program
Water Conservation &
with Spanish Immersion
Ages 14 to 18
“My summer in Peru was the most rewarding experience. I truly became part of an entirely different community by helping build an adobe preschool. It’s so special to reach across regional, cultural and linguistic barriers and become close with people through your shared experience—people you couldn’t even have related to before a VISIONS trip.”
Embracing Projects That Matter
Over the last two decades, VISIONS has worked with Urubamba residents on projects that will make a positive difference to the community for generations. From helping expand irrigation systems for farmers to building much-needed school expansions, our construction projects are instigated by locals and executed by teen volunteers working with them side by side.
The work is hands-on and provides insight into the traditions of this ancient civilization. VISIONS volunteers may learn the most common form of construction in the Andean region—making blocks by stomping mud together with straw, forming bricks and placing them out to dry. Or discover the techniques of faena farming, which involves moving rocks, concrete and other tools along canal paths to funnel water to crops. In the process, VISIONS volunteers spend quality time with local kids and parents while speaking Spanish, sharing meals, exploring cultural differences and similarities, and making personal connections.
“Going to Peru and becoming part of the community in Urubamba was eye opening and fulfilling. We didn’t just build a firehouse, we built a family. I am no longer an American, but a traveler, open to new ideas and cultures. I took home with me an experience and inspiration that will forever push me to do greater things.”
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 made great connections and have unforgettable memories. The community taught me so much about Peruvian culture and about life in general.”
Setting Out To Go Beyond
Traveling to another country is guaranteed to shift your perspective—even more so when you are immersed in a way of life significantly different from your own. In Peru, the connection to ancient culture is palpable, both in local traditions and in the physical landscape. During your stay, you’ll explore the heart of Inca civilization, Machu Picchu, where we spend a weekend that includes walking to the Sun Gate as first light breaks over the majestic peaks. You also will explore the ruins of Ollantaytambo and tour the Salinas de Maras, ponds where Peruvians still harvest salt. You’ll spend time in the colonial city of Cuzco, which is peppered with exquisite cathedrals and beautiful artwork; visit Pisac market, where merchants have been selling wares for more than four centuries; and wander small highland villages, where life is still lived in ways that have lasted through centuries. In the process, you may view your own place in history with new eyes.
Activities And Excursions
- Explore the magnificent ruins of Machu Picchu during a two-day excursion
- Learn local crafts including pottery, chocolate-making, jewelry and beekeeping
- 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.
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.