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ACE in Place: Peru

Virtual Program
Dates June 26 to July 15, 2022
Program Focus

Supporting CDS‘s environmental conservation mission to facilitate education, research and sustainable development activities in the Peruvian Oxapampa cloud forest.

This program is organized by Global Vision International (GVI).

Travel is not required or permitted in connection with participation in this program. Participant must perform and complete program through remote means.

Program Leaders
  • In order to participate, student must have access to a computer and broad-band internet capabilities. The ACE Program will not cover or reimburse participants for expenses associated with computers or internet access.

Program Overview | Service Opportunities | Program RequirementsProgram Details

Program Overview

During the three weeks of participating in ACE in Place Peru, students will virtually work with CDS (Centro de Capacitación en Conservación y Desarrollo Sostenible), on a predefined service project. GVI works in collaboration with CDS to focus on three pillars of conservation, sustainable development, and research. CDS is a non-profit organisation that has been working in the cloud forest in the region of Oxapampa since 2011. The team are experts in their fields and are excited to share their knowledge and expertise with you. ACE participants will have the unique opportunity to work together as a small team (4-6 per team) with fellow Duke and Stanford student-athletes and will also work closely with senior members/ founders from CDS on a real-world project. The ACE team will be guided by an experienced GVI Supervisor and supported by an in-country contact who will share their insight and passion for their country.

The ACE in Place Peru program will be run on a part-time basis (roughly 20 hours per week) over the 3-weeks and include 2 hours of scheduled meetings every day with two hours of unscheduled time for project work. The scheduled meetings build on our highly successful virtual internship programs that have been running since June 2020 and have been structured to provide a balance of different virtual sessions throughout the week including supervisor check-ins, reflection sessions, meetings with the organisation, masterclasses, and cultural immersion activities. The scheduled meetings also aim to balance working with the community partner with learning about Peru. As this is a virtual program, you will have the opportunity to virtually experience the richly diverse and ancient cultures. Join a Pre-Inca Shamanic ritual offering thanks to Pachamama (meaning Mother Earth in the ancient Quechua language) that dates back hundreds – maybe even thousands of years. Learn how earlier cultures communicated with knots while learning about the Quechua language and culture. Take part in a virtual cooking class where you learn about Japanese and Spanish influence in Peruvian cooking.  And of course, visit Machu Picchu virtually while learning about its history as an Incan citadel and what makes it so unique.

GVI works with CDS in Peru as the country is one of the most biodiverse places in the world boasting over 25,000 species of plant, 500 species of mammals, 300 species of reptiles, and 1,800 species of birds. With the Amazon, often referred to as ‘the lungs of the world’ covering two-thirds of the country, environmental protection of this area is crucial.


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)

Students’ 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.

Service Opportunities

GVI is a leader in experiential education abroad and has been providing impact-driven programs in sustainable development for more than twenty years. We are rated for our commitment to ethical and sustainable practices on the ground. In June 2020, GVI launched virtual internships to continue supporting our community partners and in December 2020 ran our first virtual service prototype with ACE. Our virtual programs provide a unique opportunity to develop soft skills, intercultural competencies, understanding of global issues, local contexts, and best practices in sustainable development. For ACE in Place Peru 2022, GVI is partnering with CDS.

About CDS
CDS (Centro de Capacitación en Conservación y Desarrollo Sostenible) 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, Peru, where its activities are focused.

GVI has been supporting CDS with virtual interns since 2020 and virtual service groups since 2021. The partnership was so successful that GVI now works in collaboration with CDS to offer in-person wildlife conservation and community development programs in Peru since October 2021. Together GVI and CDS’s long-term objectives are to:

  • Promote native forest sustainable management and improve habitat restoration.
  • Establish a biodiversity baseline and monitoring of native fauna and flora.
  • Promote sustainable examples and prototypes that the community can replicate.
  • Increase awareness and education about sustainable development, climate change, and habitat conservation within the community and at a national and international level.

Potential service projects may include:

  • Contribute to CDS’s marketing and communications plan to help them grow their virtual sustainable and educational scientific tourism (EST) program
  • Design a marketing campaign for their communication channels according to the target audience
  • Develop educational resources for the community resources centres

Virtual Service Program

When applying for the ACE in Place Peru program, students will be able to indicate any specific interests or skills that they will bring to the program. 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 project. Final group placements 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 group capacity.

A project brief (or choice of project briefs) will be shared with the team one month before the program starts so that they are aware of the service project and what to expect before starting. This brief includes information about CDS, your service project, what success will look like, and additional resources. The final service deliverable will be collaboratively developed with CDS throughout the program and will end with a final project presentation where the team will present their work to CDS. This is one of the highlights of the program as it is a culmination of your time on the project and will include final thank you’s and a final reflection session before we say our tearful goodbyes! ​

Program Requirements

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.

Zoom will be the main platform used for the scheduled meetings. Students will also have access to their own ACE website that will provide information on various components of the program 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.

Language Suggestions

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 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.

Other Skills

​​CDS is excited to be working with ACE student-athletes who are encouraged to discuss their interests or skills such as climate change, sustainable development, video editing, social media platforms, or website development in their application. These will be shared with CDS and the service project may be adapted to the interests and experience of the team.

Participants who come to this project with an open mind, interest in CDS’s work and long-term objectives and passion to support these will gain the most out of this experience.

Previous coursework in Peruvian history, culture, music, and literature is not required but is strongly encouraged.

Personal Competencies

  • 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 a 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.

Program Details

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.

​CDS is based near Oxapampa in Peru. Located 500 kilometres northeast of Lima, the small city of Oxapampa is surrounded by verdant cloud forests, set in the highlands of the Amazon basin. CDS runs a centre which is just 1km from the main entrance of the Yanachaga Chemillén National Park, which boasts species such as armadillo, tapir, jaguarundi, ocelot, spectacled bear, andean fox, capybara and howler monkey.

Another nearby landmark is the El Tigre waterfall, which comes to a height of nearly 30 meters. Besides it’s natural beauty, the town also boasts colourful wooden houses and is known for hosting a popular annual Selvamonos Music and Arts Festival.​

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.

In order to ensure you are supported throughout ACE in Place and equipped with the tools you need to make the most out of your time you will receive a comprehensive orientation and introduction as part of the program. This will include:

  • Two Pre-program Webinars: To introduce the team to each other, the service brief and the program partner.
  • 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.

GVI believes that it is extremely important for participants to take part in facilitated reflection sessions throughout their service program. Throughout ACE in Place Peru you will participate in a range of activities and discussions which will allow you to reflect on your time. This is an important part of developing your understanding as well as gaining as much as you can from the experience and to foster global citizenship and intercultural understanding. Experienced GVI staff will guide you 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
  • Sustainability
  • United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Regular check-ins will be scheduled throughout the program, where successes or challenges will be discussed.

​Virtual cultural immersion activities have been included throughout the program as they are an integral component in promoting intercultural understanding and appreciation and providing a different perspective on the service project you are working on.

The following activities were included in last year’s program and may be included again this year:

  • Join a Pre-Inca Shamanic ritual, high in the Andean mountains, offering thanks to Pachamama (meaning Mother Earth in the ancient Quechua language) that dates back hundreds – maybe even thousands of years.
  • Learn how earlier cultures communicated with knots while learning about the Quechua language and culture.
  • Take part in a virtual cooking class where you learn about Japanese and Spanish influence in Peruvian cooking.
  • Go on a virtual tour of the main cities in Peru and visit Machu Picchu virtually while learning about its history as an Incan citadel and what makes it so unique!

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.