GVI has worked in Peru since 2019 and has continued to support our community partners during the global pandemic by providing successful virtual programs over the past 8 months. Students will have the option to choose a service focus area to support, although service projects will often cover more than one area. Possible service focuses may include environmental sustainability or women’s empowerment. Just as with our in-country programs, every virtual project that GVI coordinates has a clear link to United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to ensure a sustainable, long-term impact using a grassroots approach.
During their three weeks participating in the virtual service program, students will have the opportunity to work with NGOs, nonprofits, and social enterprises on a sustainable development service project in Peru. They will learn about the country and culture and will have regular meetings with senior members of the community partner organization. The program will include a pre-departure webinar, orientation, service project work, check-ins, reflection sessions and cultural immersion activities.
Students will be expected to devote roughly 20 hours per week (that is 60 hours in total over the 3 week period) to the program activities and project work:
- 10 hrs/wk of scheduled activities such as project orientation, group meetings, supervisor check-ins, cultural enrichment activities, and facilitated project workshopping. Group activities will be scheduled during the week (Monday – Friday) for approximately two hours per day. Most activities and sessions will be scheduled approx. between 9 am-1 pm PDT / 12-4 pm EDT to accommodate for differences between Peruvian and US time zones.
- 10 hrs/wk of independent/group service project work (day-to-day allocation of time is flexible)
Student’s availability will be requested after they are selected for the program and the group schedule will be adapted as much as possible to fit availability. To get an idea of what to expect on a day-to-day basis, view a draft schedule.
GVI has partnered with a range of organizations that address sustainable development challenges in Peru. Specifically the organizations that we support focus on the following service areas:
- Environmental Sustainability
- Women’s Empowerment
When applying for the ACE in Place: Peru virtual service program, students will be able to indicate their preferred service focus in order of preference e.g. first preference may be women’s empowerment and the second preference may be environmental sustainability. Final groups will be assigned after acceptance into the ACE in Place: Peru program and will be selected based on interest, past experience as described in resumes, availability, and whether there are enough students to make a full group.
Depending on interest, up to four virtual service groups may be composed for Peru. Service groups will consist of 4-6 students who will be working together as a team on a service project, although some project work may be completed independently depending on the service project. Each group will have their own dedicated GVI supervisor to guide them through the project and ensure the group has everything it needs to make the most out of the service project. A project brief will be shared with students before the program starts so that they understand the work they will be engaging in. This brief includes information about the organization that you will be working with, information about your service project, what success will look like, and additional resources. The final service deliverable will be collaboratively developed with the community partner organization.
Students will be informed which service focus they have been assigned after they have been selected for the ACE in Place: Peru virtual service program. Service projects may include program management, research, marketing, media and communications, fundraising, advocacy and awareness, or a multi-focus project.
Service projects may include:
- Develop and implement a social media / marketing strategy for Mujer Peruana, a women’s empowerment NGO
- Conduct research and assist with planning for the opening of a community center for Mujer Peruana, a women’s empowerment NGO
- Develop a strategic fundraising plan for CDS to increase their funds, market participation and knowledge of products/services
Potential partners that students may work with include:
- CDS (Centro de Capacitación en Conservación y Desarrollo Sostenible): The CDS was founded in 2011 to facilitate education, research, conservation, scientific tourism, and sustainable development activities. It is located in the San Alberto basin just 1 km from the main entrance of the Yanachaga Chemillén National Park in Oxapampa, Central Amazon Rainforest, in Peru where its activities are focused.
- Mujer Peruana: Mujer Peruana is an NGO based in Peru whose fundamental mission is the promotion, comprehensive development and training of Peruvian women. The organization aims to promote the development of programs that allow the sustainable growth of women, helping them to achieve a more dignified life in a more just and equitable society and that awakens the culture of entrepreneurship and business development in each of them.
Virtual Volunteer Environment
In order to complete the virtual service program students will need a current email account and access to a computer and broad-band internet. It is assumed that participants are familiar with using a computer and accessing the Internet.
The main online platform that will be used throughout the program is Zoom for the scheduled meetings. Students will also have access to their own ACE website that will provide information on various components of the service project and include the schedules for each service project.
Students can use whichever tools they are most comfortable with for the project work such as MS Office or Google Drive. This will be up to their discretion, although GVI uses Google Drive and so resources and information will be shared through that platform.
All students must have proficiency in the English language. A basic understanding of Spanish is helpful. Students with a high level of proficiency in Spanish are encouraged to apply. Students who are interested in joining the program but have a low level of proficiency are strongly encouraged to study or practice beforehand. A Spanish language lesson will be included for students who cannot speak Spanish.
Students who can speak Spanish may have the opportunity to engage with the community partners in Spanish. While project work will be conducted in English, if possible, translation of deliverables into Spanish will be welcomed by the community partner organizations.
No previous experience or qualifications in the field of conservation or women’s empowerment is required to join this program. An interest and understanding of issues threatening natural resources and familiarity with responsible tourism is desirable.
Service projects will be assigned according to the focus area of the students and adapted to their experience and interests. In their applications, students are encouraged to list any interests or skills such as video editing, social media platforms, or website development.
As this is a virtual service program, background checks or drug tests are not required as students will not be engaging with any vulnerable populations.
Previous coursework in Peruvian history, culture, music, and literature is not required but is strongly encouraged.
- Commitment to honest and ethical behaviors – Actively seeks to understand and adhere to the values, policies, procedures, and protocols of ACE and their host organization/community; lives up to commitments and promises they make to others.
- Ability to work productively on a supervised team – The ability to respond to feedback and critique from ACE teammates and supervisors with maturity and openness to improvement; ability to listen actively and communicate courteously; ability to respond with patience and perseverance to new or unanticipated situations and obstacles; accepts responsibility for their actions; balances personal expectations of the volunteer experience with the realities of working on short-term projects in virtual cultural settings that are new to them.
- Self-reliance and self-confidence – Understands and meets their own physical and emotional needs in virtual environments with an mixture of optimism and realism
- Empathy and cultural sensitivity – Effectively and respectfully communicates and interacts with people of different ages, races, religions, and cultures; demonstrates curiosity about the lives of others without judgment
- Problem solving and goal orientations – Possesses strong analytical skills and an interest in producing deliverable end-projects for a community partner organization, e.g., report or social media strategy etc.
- Flexibility and adaptability – Must be flexible in response to the needs of the community. Time in Peru is approached in a very relaxed and flexible manner so should be able to adapt to meetings being delayed or last minute changes to the schedule.
Peru is the third largest country in South America, after Brazil and Argentina. It is made up of a variety of landscapes, from mountains and beaches to deserts and rainforests. Most people live along the coast of the Pacific Ocean, where the capital, Lima, is located.
The people of Peru are a mix of many different cultures, including Indians, Spaniards and other Europeans, descendants of African slaves, and Asians. Until recently, most people lived in the countryside. But now, more than 70 percent live in cities. Most Peruvians follow the Catholic religion introduced by the Spanish. Peru is also known for its fusion cuisine as a result of its storied cultural history, which can be traced back more than ten centuries. Today, Peruvian food is a fusion of its own Inca roots combined with a mix of Spanish, African, Chinese and French influences, to name a few.
Peru’s weather is extremely diverse. In fact, 28 of the world’s 32 climates and microclimates can be found in Peru. This diverse range of climates is largely due to the existence of the Andes mountain range as well as the cold waters of the Humboldt Current that passes close by Peru’s shoreline.
Because it has so many different ecosystems, Peru is home to a wider variety of plants and animals than most other countries on Earth. For many reasons, Peruvians have not had as much of an impact on their natural world as many other countries, and much of these ecosystems have been undisturbed. However, with increasing tourism comes an increased demand and stress on Peru’s natural resources.
An important priority for the country is to create greater awareness on the importance of conserving natural resources.
GVI uses email as our official means of communication. This includes program welcome emails, service information, and correspondence from our internship supervisors and support teams. Students are responsible for reading the content of our communications sent to your email account.
As mentioned above, students will have access to a dedicated ACE online platform that will include their program and daily schedules for reference.
Comprehensive pre-departure preparation and orientation will be provided to students to ensure that they have sufficient context of the community partner organization and knowledge of the country. This will include:
- Welcome Presentation: Run through the program in detail and introduce the various components & GVI staff who will be working with and supporting students.
- Location Presentation: Discuss key cultural aspects such as cultural norms, country information, language, religion, & socio-economic conditions.
- Community Partner & Service Project Brief: Detailed introduction of community partner and service project as well as time for the team to plan out project work for the week.
- Regular Community Partner Meetings: Meet with service/project partners to better understand the organization, importance of the project and ask them questions.
Throughout all of these sessions we encourage communication and so students are recommended to ask questions where needed.
Experienced GVI staff will virtually introduce students to local cultures and environments, enabling supported cultural immersion and the fostering of global citizenship and intercultural understanding. Staff will guide the students through the learning process, including presentations, discussions, and dedicated reflection time.
Reflection topics may include:
- Team Building Sessions
- Cultural Sensitivity and Community Work
- Stereotypes & Perceptions
- United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
Regular check-ins will be scheduled throughout the program, where successes or challenges will be discussed.
Where possible, students will be able to meet with different stakeholders of the community partner organizations and GVI staff members in that country in order to get a holistic understanding of the organization and its various parts.
Virtual cultural immersion activities will be scheduled throughout the program. Potential activities may include a virtual cooking class, language lessons, and a virtual tour of Machu Picchu. Cultural immersion activities will be planned for all ACE in Place: Peru participants regardless of their project group to participate in together so students can engage with participants from other teams throughout the program.
During the program students will learn:
- To overcome personal and work related challenges.
- To work as part of a virtual team and resolve conflict.
- About local issues and how they relate to global issues and their communities at home.
- New skills and gain practical experience relevant to their chosen project.
- How international NGOs and organizations are structured and the challenges they may face.
You will receive a detailed service project brief before your start date. In addition, you may benefit from learning more about local history, culture and customs before you travel.
The Peru Reader: History, Culture, Politics – Orin Starn, Ivan Degregori, and Robin Kirk
Turn Right at Machu Picchu – Mark Adams
The Conquest of the Incas – John Hemming
The Lost City of the Incas – Hiram Bingham
Death in the Andes -Mario Vargas Llosa
The Shining Path: Love, Madness, and Revolution in the Andes – Orin Starn and Miguel La Serna
De dónde venimos los cholos – Marco Áviles (only in Spanish) – Program Manager’s favorite
Overall, these are just suggestions, but there are other great ways to start orienting yourself to the country before starting your virtual ACE program. You could try searching BBC News – Peru or reading Peruvian Times.
If you’re looking to brush up on your Spanish, listening to and reading BBC Mundo is a great resource! If you are a beginning or intermediate Spanish speaker, a good trick is to switch between the “translate this page” button on google chrome to see both the English and Spanish versions back to back.
Watching videos can be fun too. See “13 Films You Must See Before Visiting Peru” for trailers and descriptions of each movie.
ACE in Place: Peru
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Video for Image 4 In this video, you can learn more about CDS (Centro de Capacitación en Conservación y Desarrollo Sostenible). CDS is one of the potential community partners in the ACE in Place: Peru program. The CDS was founded in 2011 to facilitate education, research, conservation, scientific tourism, and sustainable development activities.