Discover the iconic city of Cusco in Peru when you teach a range of children from different age groups from local schools. Help us contribute to UN Sustainable Development Goal #4 as you help to improve the quality of mathematics, English and science in these schools, and gain hands-on teaching experience while exploring the metropolis of Cusco in your free time.
While primary and secondary education is free and compulsory in Peru, the quality thereof is not of a high standard. Peruvian teachers are overworked with little to no resource to their disposal.
Volunteers joining this program will get involved in teaching mathematics, English and science to children from a range of different grades. English has been highlighted as a key focus area and something that locals are keen to learn. This will aid in interacting with tourists and their ability to conduct business with English speakers. Participants can expect to conduct workshops for teachers to provide training on different teaching methodologies; how to work with overcrowded classrooms; and how to work with multiple grade classrooms.
Apart from the English lessons, please note that teaching will be conducted in Spanish. If you require Spanish lessons these can be provided, just speak to your country expert about this add-on.
Gain practical teaching experience and mentorship from our experienced staff
Develop and enhance your leadership skills
Build your confidence in public speaking
Contribute to a sustainable project to improve the overall standard of education, while directly impacting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
Experience the diversity of the local Peruvian lifestyle, culture, food and language
Travel and explore some of the famous attractions around Cusco
This project is a truly immersive Latin American cultural experience. Share a home with like minded people GVI staff, and participants from all over the world, in the heart of Cusco, the stronghold of the Incan empire. Travel each day to work in traditional Quechua farming communities. In the evenings and on the weekends, walk the narrow alleyways with new friends among locals Cuscans.
Lodgings for this program are a homestay-style hotel which sleeps three to four in each room. Each room is equipped with electricity with Western-style toilets and hot water showers.
Breakfasts and dinners are served at the accommodation. During project days, lunch will be prepared with the local community and participants will have the opportunity to experience local food cooked in a traditional Quechua manner. There are also many cafes and restaurants in the local area if you would like to try out the local cuisine.
Free wifi is available at the accommodation and at most restaurants, however, bear in mind that it might not be as fast or reliable as it might be use to in your home country. Our project sites are mainly rural which means that wifi and telephone signals here are limited.
There are several clinics and hospitals in Cusco. If there were to be a medical issue, GVI staff will ensure that affected participants are transported to the relevant facility depending on the nature and severity of the illness or injury.
Peru is famous for its unique and dramatic climate and Cusco, where our projects are based, is no exception. It is hot, sunny, and dry year round during the day and very cold but still very dry at night.
What's It like?
If you’d like to find out what the experience of joining a GVI project is really like, simply contact us and we’ll put you in touch with one of our many Alumni.
We’ll try to match you to an Alum based on your location, nationality, age, stage of academic career, gender, and program interests. This allows you to gain insights into the experience that is most relevant to you.
Depending on your location you might be able to speak to an Alum over the phone or online, or meet up with them face-to-face at a coffee shop nearby. We also run a series of small events around the world where you can speak to GVI Alumni, Ambassadors and staff members.
Follow GVI Volunteer-In-Cusco's Facebook page for live updates straight from the field. Get an idea of the types of projects you might be involved in, meet our staff and participants, experience life on this GVI base, hear about free time activities, and learn about the local culture and environment.
When it comes to support, we ensure that each participant is provided with unparalleled, 360 degree support, from your initial contact with the GVI Family, all the way through your program, and even after, as you become part of the GVI Alumni Team.
As part of this promise, we will ensure, whenever possible, that one of our dedicated staff will be available to meet you at the airport. In most locations, we also set up a Whatsapp group to help with managing airport arrivals. We will arrange with you prior to your departure that, should you arrive in the agreed upon pick up window, a member of our staff will be there to welcome you, easily identifiable in a GVI t-shirt or holding a GVI sign and wearing a friendly smile. This means there will be someone there to greet you as you land, and from there you will be transported to your GVI base to start your adventure and meet the rest of your team.
Meet The Team - Senior Field Management
Cynthia Arochi Zendejas
Regional Director for Latin America
Meet Cynthia! She is GVI’s Regional Director for Latin America. Her journey with us started in 2006 as a National Scholar in Mexico on our National Scholar Program. She moved to Costa Rica three years agos and for her it has been a great experience, with the beauty of the country contributing to this!
Cynthia has a Masters in Environmental Science, which she completed in Sweden. Additionally, she is currently participating in an MBA with the aim to improve her management skills. In her life, Cynthia has had a variety of jobs and careers fueled by her love of languages and culture. Such jobs include teaching French, organising games, and working asing a Team Building Facilitator. Cynthia hopes to see you soon!
All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or UN SDGs. This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualise their contribution to the UN SDGs.
Upon arrival to base, you will be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. You will learn about the specific goals of your location, the long-, mid- and short-term objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these goals on a global level.
Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to act as active global citizens after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.
Tourism in Peru has tripled between 2004 and 2017, growing from 1.4 million tourists to 4 million tourists annually. Many tourists come to the region to see Machu Picchu, easily Peru’s main attraction, and severe demands have been placed on natural resources surrounding Cusco.
Cusco is not confined only to the more densely populated center, since it also includes the surrounding buffer zones of the World Heritage site, which are mainly rural. Half of Cusco’s population is classified as rural and 45% of its active population is employed in agriculture. Cusco also suffers from a high degree of poverty, with 51% of households living below the poverty line, 49% of homes are not equipped with a water supply and 67% have no sewer system. Another challenge facing the region is the illiteracy rate of 14.2%, which limits employment opportunities for Cusco’s rural residents. Therefore, there are many other lifestyles and economies that are not necessarily being fueled by the growing tourism industry but whose natural resources are being consumed at an alarming rate.
In 2018, GVI joined forces with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and other Peruvian community organizations to work on environmental sustainability projects in the region. The overarching focus of GVI’s work is the protection and conservation of a lake that supplies 40% of Cusco’s water. This involves monitoring the flora growing in the microbasin of Piuray lake, setting up measures to protect the natural environment, like building fences to protect natural springs and grazing area and creating infiltration ditches to prevent erosion and landslides, and promoting organic farming practices in nearby communities by building greenhouses, building or recovery of Incan terraces for use in agriculture and reforestation.
In collaboration with one of TNC’s partners, Center for Andean Regional Studies Bartolomé de Las Casas (CBC), GVI programs in Peru immerse participants in the local culture and educate them about the socio-cultural, historical, economic, and environmental factors affecting the region. As a non-profit, civil association, CBC has been working on protecting and advocating for indigenous rights since 1974. Under the guidance of CBC and GVI staff, participants will contribute to promoting responsible tourism and fair trade, participating in traditional arts such as weaving and dyeing, and assisting residents of all ages with expanding their economic opportunities.
As such, the main UN Sustainable Development Goals of this project include, #6, Clean Water and Sanitation, #7 Affordable and Clean Energy, as well as #8, Decent Work and Economic Growth.
Our Partners In Cusco
GVI Peru Long-term Objectives:
1. Ensuring water protection and conservation through construction project.
2. Facilitating greater participation by rural community members in the tourism industry.
3. Educating community members about water conservation and organic produce production.
4. Improving the health of rural community members through low-cost, energy-efficient home improvements.
A GVI program is an investment in your career. No matter which you choose, you will be working toward improving your employability by mastering new social skills, gaining further technical expertise and earning qualifications in many cases. Most of our staff are, in fact, GVI Alumni, and we have helped many of our Alumni discover, move toward, and earn their own personal dream jobs. Each program includes introductory workshops, ongoing presentations, as well as on-the-ground professional support provided by our very own trained staff members. In addition, our training programs are critical for helping us to ensure the long-term impact of our sustainable development projects around the world.
For All GVI Participants
Introduction to GVI as a whole and the work in your specific location. Learn about the short, mid, and long-term objectives of the sustainable development projects at your base, which United Nations Development Goals they impact most directly, and which local partners we work with.
Health and Safety Training
Learn about the Emergency Action Plans in place at your base, the full Risk Assessment, and best practices for personal safety.
Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Training
Learn about the importance of child and vulnerable adult protection best practices and how to apply them while on project.
Joining a program not only allows participants to collaborate with communities or work toward preserving unique ecosystems but it also offers plenty of opportunities to explore the surrounding area or travel further to see what other parts of the region have to offer.
Long term field staff are a great source of advice, and have helped us put together the following information on local travel options. Many decide to travel before or after their experience (subject to immigration restrictions), solidifying the lifetime friendships established on program. Please note that the below suggestions are not included in the program fee, and are for the individual to organise at their own expense.
The spectacular multi-coloured rainbow mountain is only a short drive from Cusco. Hike to the top to experience the stunning variety of the Peruvian natural landscape first-hand.
Other Incan Sites
Cusco is an the heart of the Sacred Valley, and there are plenty of other Incan sites to visit including, Ollantaytambo, Sacsayhuaman, Tambomachay, Pisac, Puka Pukara, Moray, and Qenko.
Cusco is known as the gateway to Machu Picchu. There are many trails available for hikers of differing fitness levels. This is arguably the most popular tourist destination in Peru, therefore we recommend booking far ahead of time to avoid disappointment.
View the massive geoglyphs, symbols made using only rocks and the top layer of soil, make by the Nazca culture. The best views are afforded from the air, so be sure to rent a flight over Paracas National Reserve.
Huacachina desert oasis
A great day trip from Lima, is a visit to Huacachina, an oasis in the middle of the desert. Swim in the lake, relax on its shores, or sandboard the surrounding dunes.
Visit Peru’s capital, stroll the promenade sampling the city’s famous street eats or join the local surf cult hanging ten just off the edge of the capital’s limestone cliffs.
Visit the three city set between three volcanoes. The city has a unique culture different to any other throughout Peru. Hike nearby Colca Canyon to see the great condor in flight.
Experience the wonders of the Peruvian Amazon by traveling to the city of Iquitos and booking a canal tour.
The Reed Islands
Travel to Puno to learn how the local people make their own islands using reeds that float on one of the highest lakes in the world, Titicaca.
Engaging intimately with a new context teaches not only global awareness but adaptability and critical thinking, skills highly valued in the modern marketplace. Local and cultural immersion is encouraged on all our programs around the world, and is also one of the most enjoyable aspects of your experience. Luckily, there are many activities you can get involved with in your free time, or before and after your program. On our community programs the focus is on cultural topics, while on marine or wildlife programs the emphasis is more on the environmental element. Use your evenings and weekends to explore diverse and eclectic topics like Theravada Buddhism in Laos or how plastic pollution and climate change affects Indian Ocean coral.
January: In Cusco, The Adoration of the Kings, or honouring of the birth of the Christ child by the three kings, is celebrated with great fanfare.
April: Easter is celebrated for an entire week in Cusco and the local plaza fills up with celebrants.
May: Taking place in late May and early June, Quyllurit’i, celebrates the beginning of harvest season. Thousands of pilgrims arrive to watch the sun rise.
June: The Catholic festival of Corpus Christi is celebrated in June as well as the traditional Incan festival of Inti Raymi in honour of the sun god Inti.
July: The festival of the Virgin of Carmen, is celebrated for four day with traditional costumes and dances in mid July. Late July is when Peru celebrates their independence from the Spanish government.
August: The first day of August is Andean New Year, and is celebrate by building and burning altars of traditional foods.
September: In early September Catholics celebrate the birth of the mother of Jesus with Peru. The festival of Lord Huanca honours a local saint and a local Andean ceremony acts as an initiation ceremony for boys from the local community.
November: On the first few days of November, Catholics celebrate the Day of the Dead to honour their ancestors.
December: The Selling of the Saints, is a Christmas festivity unique to Cusco. On the day of Christmas Eve, a massive market of local goods is held in the local plaza.
Spirituality and Religion
Peru has a mostly Catholic population. However, Quechua communities still hold certain beliefs of the Inca religion. They honour the earth mother as well as local spirits.
Weaving and Pottery
The art of pottery and textile making is central to Quechua culture. Pottery and textiles are not only functional, everyday items, but are imbued with meaning by their makers. Learn about pottery and textile making at the foot of the masters, the women of the local community.
The Inca had many unique ways of preserving and cooking food. Quechua communities still preserve some of these methods like cooking in an earth oven and freeze drying meat. You can learn more about these cooking methods by assisting locals with preparing lunch for participants and the community.
The community we work in grows their own food and farm alpacas using methods that date back to the time of the Inca. Here you can learn about how native crops, like potatoes and corn, are grown organically and used for food, medicine, and as dye for textiles. You can get involved in the process of planting, harvesting, and preparing food as well as the entire alpaca wool shearing and dye harvesting process.
There will be plenty of opportunities to learn and practice your Spanish language skills You can also learn about Quechua, the language of the Incas, by engaging with people in the local community.
Once the capital of the Incan empire, Cusco was taken over by Spanish colonists in the 16th century, but much of the city’s Incan heritage is still visible. Many buildings are still supported by the one-of-a-kind sculpted stones unique to Incan architecture. Explore the city’s Incan heritage by visiting sites like the 12-angled stone, the Santo Domingo Convent built on the remains of the Inca Sun temple, the Plaza del Arms, and the Museo Inca.
Since you will be working in a rural traditional community outside Cusco, it is also important that you learn about some of the local customs and what is culturally appropriate. Upon arrival, we will start with a presentation about local Quechua culture, appropriate dress sense, and topics of conversation.
Below is a list of core ethics and best practices we believe are essential to the operation of high quality, ethical volunteer and sustainable development programs. We believe that all responsible volunteer and sustainable development operations should focus upon these principles. If you are considering volunteering, these are some of the key considerations you should question, to ensure that your time and money contributes towards positive change.
We want to constantly develop our own understanding of ethical best practice. In so doing, we aim to provide an exemplary industry standard for other education institutions, international development organisations, and social enterprises. Our Badge of Ethics stands for the drive to always do good, better. Find out more, click on the Badge below.
Our 10 Ethical Commitments
Locally Driven, Collaborative Projects
We aim to design all our projects in collaboration with local organizations and communities and ensure that they are locally driven.
Clear Objectives & Sustainable Outcomes
We aim to clearly define short-, mid-, and long-term objectives with sustainable outcomes for all our projects.
We aim to track, record, and publish the impact of each of our projects.
Working Against Dependency
We aim to build in-country capacity by assisting local organizations in becoming self-sustaining.
Responsible Exit Strategies
For each local organization we work with, we aim to have a plan in place for withdrawing support responsibly.
Clear Roles & Specialized Training
We aim to ensure that ever participant is assigned a clear role and that they are fully trained and supported to carry out their work by specialized staff.
Respect for all
In all our actions we aim to respect the skills and efforts of all and seek to protect the rights, culture and dignity of everyone who engages with GVI.
We work to ensure that credit for the results of any project, along with any data collected, research conducted, or Intellectual Property developed, remains the property of local organizations.
Transitioning from the Orphanage Model
We do not condone and aim to withdraw support of orphanages and residential care centers.
Child and Vulnerable adult policies
We will live by our Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult policies.
As an organization, GVI is committed to striving toward best practice, and to educating both our potential participants, our partners, and the world at large about them. Both the volunteering and sustainable development sectors are increasingly, and rightly, under scrutiny. Many recent local and global articles highlight poor practices and questionable ethics. GVI is widely recognized for striving to apply global best practice in the volunteering, education and sustainable development sectors throughout our operations by reputable organizations such as ChildSafe.
However, global best practice is always evolving and we dedicate both time and resources to engage with internationally respected experts and learn from the latest research to ensure our programs both fulfil their potential to create maximum positive impact, and minimise their potential to create unintentional negative impact. Along with and as part of the sustainable development and volunteering community, we are constantly learning and applying this learning to practice. We do not always get everything right, but we seek feedback from our community members, partners, participants and our staff, and react accordingly. We know are already doing a great job, and feedback we have received confirms this, but we aim to do even better and are continuously refining our operations to improve upon our already excellent reputation.
‘If only every student could do this. It changes your life in all the right ways,’ says Chris Heritage, parent of Luke Heritage, one of our teen volunteers who has participated on two GVI programs, one in Costa Rica and another in South Africa.
We are a parent-run organisation that is incredibly serious about health and safety, and increasing the impact, as well as the long-term career benefits of our programs. Our programs help young people develop the skills to select a career path that is personally fulfilling, and live a life aligned to the well-being of our planet and the global community.
Ken and Linda Jeffrey, whose son Sam volunteered with GVI in Thailand, talk about how the experience affected Sam. He also went on to volunteer with GVI again in South Africa. ‘I know it sounds like a cliche but in a sense, he did go away as a boy and he came back as a young man. Both of us could recommend GVI without any hesitation to any other parent thinking about exploring an opportunity for their children to explore the world and to see different parts of it.’
Parent Info Pack
Download the Parent Pack and learn more about:
Our staff: All our projects are run by staff, selected, vetted, trained, and managed by our central office. Health and safety: Our safety practices include a child and vulnerable adult protection policy and high participant ratios. Staying in touch: See what’s happening on base, by following a hub’s dedicated Facebook page. Free parent consultations: We would love to talk to you about exciting opportunities available for your child.
Support & Safety
We won’t sugarcoat it — traveling abroad is usually a complex process that carries an element of risk. But this is exactly why we’re passionate about providing extensive support throughout the process as well as the highest safety standards during the in-country phase. We believe that volunteering abroad should not only be impactful, but an enjoyable experience that carries as little risk as possible. This is exactly how we’ve been able to maintain our reputation as the most highly respected volunteering organisations in the sector over the past two decades.
Once a participant books, they will be assigned a personal support coordinator who will oversee their pre-departure journey. The support coordinator helps to bridge the gap between program enrolment and arrival at one of our field bases. Your personal support coordinator will ensure that you are provided with all the necessary information required to apply for visas, background checks, and any other documentation.
Upon arrival at the airport, participants will be greeted by a GVI staff member. All GVI staff are our own and all our programs around the world are run by our staff. All GVI field staff are background checked, Emergency First Response and safety trained. The minimum staff to participant ratio on GVI’s programs is one to six, although on several bases we have a ratio of one to three. When finishing the experience, participants will provide feedback on all aspects of their program.
It takes courage to book a GVI program, get on a flight, and head off to somewhere new. Volunteering offers a level of cultural immersion that typical backpacking or holidays just can’t achieve. This is why thousands of people around the world participate in paid GVI programs.
As the saying goes: ‘Expect the best, plan for the worst’. Cliched or not, we take it to heart. This tenet is at the core of how GVI operates when it comes to promoting the health and safety of our participants, staff, and local community members at all of our 20+ bases around the world.
The weather isn’t just a topic for polite small-talk here at GVI. We have emergency action plans in place for all scenarios. So when the weather, or other natural forces, takes a nasty turn, we are prepared to respond to stormy situations.
Once GVI has matched a participant to a program that suits their passions and goals, our team aims to set the right expectations for them. In the event that false expectations around a program are created, the GVI team takes immediate action to ensure that the situation rectified.
24-hour emergency phone
24-hour in-country support
Access to Alumni Services and Discounts
Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
All necessary project equipment and materials
All necessary project training by experienced staff
Long term experienced staff
Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)