Volunteer in Peru from US$310

UBELONG offers 1-week to 6-month volunteering opportunities in Cusco and the Sacred Valley. There are over 40 projects in different fields, including: caregiving, education, health, and business development.

Highlights

  • Affordable: Without compromising quality, the world's most affordable international volunteering opportunities.
  • Flexibility: Pick from 100+ projects across Africa, Asia and South America. Volunteer 1 week to 6 months. Start any week.
  • Support: Work one-on-one with a UBELONG Mentor throughout your volunteer experience.
  • Comfort: Housing and meals included, as well as 24/7 field support.
  • Network: UBELONG is based in Washington, DC, the capital of international volunteering.
  • Impact: UBELONG is a social venture led by international volunteers and university professors driven to make a real impact.

Program Info

Location: 
  • PeruCusco
Volunteer Types: 
Arts
Business
Health
Disabled Care
Elderly Care
Medical
Psychology
Childcare
Community Development
Education
Sports
Women's Rights
Program Length: 
1-2 weeks
2-4 weeks
1-3 months
3-6 months
Cost: 
$500 - $2,000 (USD)
$2,000 - $5,000 (USD)
See site for details.
See Additional Information
Cost Description: 

Without compromising safety or impact, UBELONG offers the world's most affordable 1-week to 6-month international volunteering opportunities.

Fees vary by location and placement duration. They start from US$150 for one week. Fees include:

-Airport pick-up

-Housing and meals

-24/7 in-country support

-Continual one-on-one mentorship from a UBELONG Mentor (including written materials and a phone/Skype Briefing Meeting)

-Peace of mind from joining the leading short-term international volunteering program, which is based in Washington, DC

-Networking opportunities through the powerful UBELONG community

*The UBELONG Campus Leaders program offers scholarships to university students. Contact us for more information.

Languages: 
English
Spanish
Local dialects
Housing: 
Home-stay
Volunteer House
Application: 
Online Application

Videos

Program Reviews (48)

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Positive
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  • Impact
    88%
  • Support
    97%
  • Fun
    95%
  • Value
    97%
  • Safety
    94%
  • Kelsey
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Madison, WI
    University of Wisconsin
    UBELONG in Peru
    03/24/2015

    UBELONG is, in my mind, the best organization for international volunteering. There are a variety of groups that exploit the travel- and service-hungry millennial generation - providing overpriced trips that don't actually immerse students in the culture. UBELONG is NOT one of these groups. I was impressed in every aspect of their program, particularly in-country issues focus and immersion. I have recommended UBELONG to everyone I know who would like to volunteer abroad, and will continue to do so.

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  • Em Wilczynski
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Madison, WI
    University of Wisconsin
    Volunteer in Peru!
    03/10/2015

    I think that UBELONG is a great organization. It is well-organized, easy to contact the right people, and is a really simple and effective way to go to a new country with the security of knowing that you will be able to volunteer somewhere that needs your help. I think that my experiences abroad with UBELONG have been my favorite trips ever, because I was able to combine volunteering and traveling, while learning new things along the way!

    How could this program be improved?

    I think that the program could help encourage fellow volunteers to interact with one another a little more- I made great friends along the way, but would have loved to meet more people!

    Photos:
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  • Madalyn Lupinek
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Madison, Wisconsin
    University of Wisconsin
    UBELONG Cusco, Peru Review
    03/05/2015

    UBELONG gave me the ability to volunteer abroad almost effortlessly. The website was very informative and my mentor was always available for questions and led me along the path to volunteering smoothly. Communication was great. I also appreciated the Pre-Departure booklet. It had a wealth of information that the trip wouldn't have been the same without knowing.

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  • Bill Mulligan
    Age: 19-24
    Male
    Madison, WI
    University of Wisconsin
    UBELONG- Cusco, Peru
    02/13/2015

    UBELONG is well run and well organized form start to post trip follow up. Their commitment to quality volunteer experience and impact comes across at every step, from the 50 page preparation booklet to following up on potential problems.

    Photos:
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  • Lindsay Allen
    Age: 25-30
    Female
    Washington, DC
    Michigan State University
    Revitalizing Volunteering with Excellent Organization
    01/30/2015

    This is a review is in regards to a two week volunteer trip that I partook in through UBELONG. UBELONG is a superbly ran organization and having reliable and accessible volunteer staff allowed me to feel comfortable on my first solo volunteer trip. I also want to note that the project and volunteer amenities in Peru adequately reflected the descriptions that were provided and I hope to go on another trip through UBELONG in the near future.

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  • Erika
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Newark, ca
    Samuel Merritt University
    Cusco, Peru with Ubelong
    01/09/2015

    Volunteering with UBELONG was an amazing experience that allowed me to grow as a person by working with others and learning from locals. The UBELONG staff was very supportive and greatly prepared me for my trip. They stayed in contact with me throughout and after my trip as well. While being by my side, they also gave me the freedom to ask questions and explore the beautiful culture that Peru has to offer. In all, I made wonderful memories and learned great things that will stay with me forever!

    How could this program be improved?

    If I had to change anything about it, I would say that I wouldve liked to know more about the specific place I was going to volunteer at. I felt like I kind of went into the project blind and did not know what to expect. However, this was not necessarily a bad thing because it left me with no expectations.

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  • Isabella Tu
    Age: 18 or younger
    Female
    Edmonton
    University of Alberta
    UBELONG - Awesome Program and Awesome People
    10/26/2014

    UBELONG provided me with a great experience to travel across the world, and make a contribution to the lives of the children I worked with. The UBELONG staff were welcoming, and ready to help both before, during, and after my trip. Alongside this, the people of Peru were so friendly and accommodating that I felt right at home travelling to my placement at an afterschool day care center. If you are worried about travelling alone, don't be! All the volunteers at the house are extremely welcoming, and you will never be at a loss for a friend or companion.

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  • Kuan Woh Leong
    Age: 19-24
    Male
    Waterloo, Ontario
    University of Waterloo
    Review of UBELONG Volunteer Program
    10/07/2014

    UBELONG is one of the most reputable, reliable and cost-effective international volunteer organizations that I can find. Although it was my first time volunteering overseas, I was not worried and I was well prepared because UBELONG had assisted and guided me very well before the start of my project. I only wish I could stay longer because the project was an awesome experience and it was well worth it.

    How could this program be improved?

    More nutritious and quantity of food provided would be much appreciated.

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  • Ashley Armendariz
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Las Cruces, New Mexico
    Two Months in Cusco, Peru
    10/06/2014

    I feel like the two months spent in Peru changed the way I see myself and others. I feel extremely grateful for choosing UBELONG, because of it I met amazing people and not have wonderful memories. There was times when I was ready to come home because of whatever reason but by finishing my stay I was able to grow so much more. I wouldn't change a thing about my experience.

    How could this program be improved?

    I would like to pay for my all my meals rather than having to pay for them as part as the overall charge.

    Photos:
    Ladies who ask for donations while walking to the streets to Plaza de Armas.
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  • Chloe Musick
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Athens, Ohio
    Ohio University
    UBELONG was wonderful!
    08/16/2014

    UBELONG was a wonderful organization that provided me with a mentor to answer any questions or help with any difficulties I had in the field. I had some difficulty within my homestay, which the UBELONG team helped me with in a timely fashion. With that being said, if someone has any difficulty within their homestay, they should contact their mentor before mentioning anything to their family.

    The students I worked with in the field were wonderful as well. I was greeted with hugs by my students every morning and they were eager to learn. Additionally, they were very kind to me despite our language barrier. The staff at the school was incredibly kind and hospitable as well. They were always looking to help me in some way. Overall, it was a wonderful learning and cultural experience.

    How could this program be improved?

    I had some difficulty with thievery throughout my time in the field. Making volunteers more aware of theft prevention techniques would be tremendously helpful.

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  • Rufia Valiff
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Adelaide, Australia
    University of South Australia
    Volunteering in a Peruvian childcare
    08/08/2014

    Volunteering internationally was one of the most fun and insightful experiences of my life. I may not have changed the world, but I helped make the lives of these children fun for at least a short time, and I gained an appreciation for everything I take for granted back home.

    How could this program be improved?

    included Spanish lessons to prepare us for everyday life in the country

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  • Kelly
    Age: 25-30
    Female
    London
    Florida International University
    You do belong!
    07/29/2014

    The volunteer process doesn't just start with wanting to serve others somewhere in the world and choosing an organization that will help you get placed in a good program where you can impact those who you are helping and at the same time having them arrange your stay, is a hard task. If you are like me, you did hours of research before embarking on this great mission. I looked at many different organizations that offered a great experience and to be honest they all sounded great if not the same. When I came across UBelong's website I read many reviews along with the organization's mission statement and it triggered me to keep looking, so when I came across the Business Development project it was exactly what I was looking for. During my stay in Cusco and before, I had a great amount of support from the organization and I didn't have any issues. I had the opportunity to meet Raul Roman which is one of the organizations founders. We had the opportunity of discussing the project I was working with, his experiences while volunteering and how it all came about when creating UBelong. It was a great feeling to know that the founders care for the volunteers and their work. All in all, UBelong gave me the opportunity of helping a great organization where my work was valued, and gave me a chance to see how our work can deeply impact those who benefit from it.

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  • Nico Han
    Age: 18 or younger
    Female
    Ontario
    Personal schedule and what to bring for kids
    07/23/2014

    I like the flexibility that we had during our placement. Volunteers can choose their own time available for work and schedule accordingly to make some spare time for free exploration of the local place -- as long as the work is well arranged.
    I highly suggest volunteers (of the after school centre program) to bring toys and books based on quality as well as quantity. Make sure the stuff you bring can be distributed to most of the children and durable. Be patient and open; kids are so earnest and lovely.

    How could this program be improved?

    Tell the volunteers more about the accommodation (that it is located in a Spanish school previous to their arrival), especially when it is mingled with other programs/organizations: in our case, the Spanish school. We would have had taken more of the classes if we had known that we were going to live there.
    The brochure / instruction booklet is REALLY clear and straightforward; because of that, we didn't have any surprise or unprepared experience.

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  • Vanessa
    Age: 25-30
    Female
    Greenville, NC
    East Carolina University
    Thank you UBELONG!
    07/23/2014

    I spent 4 weeks volunteering in Cusco, Peru at a shelter for abused girls with UBELONG. My first week there was difficult - first with the cold, cold weather and lack of heat, the culture shock, and then getting sick; additionally, I also encountered a few unexpected obstacles with my project. However, to say that UBELONG went above and beyond to make sure that not only my stay was comfortable, but that I was also happy with my project, would be an understatement. I was lucky enough to even have the co-founder Raul in town to make my transition to a new project location as smooth as possible. Every single individual in Cusco's UBELONG program, from the staff, the cooks--I mean, I got 3 extra pancakes every Wednesday morning--, and the volunteers were exceptionally friendly. My first week in Cusco was challenging to say the least, but had I not had the support of UBELONG to get me through, I don't think I would have had enough strength to make it through the four weeks alone. It is with UBELONG that I was able to have a warm bed, despite the cold of Cusco at night, two great meals a day--the lunches especially were scrumptious--, health and emotional support when I was bed ridden with food poisoning, and make lifelong friends. I came to fall in love with Cusco, a city I knew nothing about until I set food there. This experience was rewarding in more ways than I could imagine. Thank you UBELONG! Until next time...

    How could this program be improved?

    Tell the volunteers exactly what volunteer location they will be staying in before making it to their volunteer destination

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  • Simon Gigli
    Age: 19-24
    Male
    Washington DC
    Wesleyan University
    Volunteering in Cusco!
    07/22/2014

    For me, it felt like UBELONG was driven entirely by making the international volunteer experience as wonderful as possible. Their love of volunteering and traveling and great spirit pervade everything that they do. The correspondence before you go is really helpful and kind, the projects they offer are exciting, and the website is inspirational. Also my experience as a teacher's assistant in Cusco, Peru was one of the greatest of my life. The volunteer coordinator showed me around and got me settled, I was welcomed each day by the class and I really felt like I was able to be a part of something positive and special. I'll always remember teaching some lessons the blackboard with amazing faces looking at me! Thank you UBELONG!

    How could this program be improved?

    There was a really nice balance between gradual transitional responsibility and occasional increased responsibility, however I wish I could have talked a little more with the teacher of the class about how to lead the class. I'm sure though had I asked she would have been happy to instruct me.

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Alumni Interviews

  • Meet Emily!
    Meet Emily!

    Why did you pick this program?

    Emily: I picked this program because a student organization at my university plans group trips through UBELONG. It seemed like a great way to meet new people, see a new place, and volunteer in a new way. I'm glad I decided to try it! I found UBELONG to be a really easy and accessible way to go abroad.

    What is the most important thing you learned abroad?

    Cuzco
    Cuzco

    Emily: The most important thing I have learned while traveling is to not have any expectations. If you travel to a new country, try to not expect anything to be a certain way, or don't expect to cross everything off your checklist. I think it's better to go somewhere and experience everything with new eyes so that you can get the most out of your time abroad, instead of spending it possibly being disappointed if everything on your wish list doesn't happen.

    What was the hardest part about going abroad?

    Emily: The hardest part about going abroad is letting go of what you left at home and accepting and appreciating that people around the world do things differently and believe different things. I think it is really hard to understand that everyone has a different perspective, and to accept that not one single perspective is the 'right' one is both really hard, but also really important. Once you do that, you can have a really great and unique experience, and when you go home, you appreciate where you come from, too!

    Hiking Machu Picchu
    Hiking Machu Picchu

    What made this trip meaningful to you, or how did this trip change your perceptions or future path?

    emily: This trip was really meaningful to me and definitely changed my perceptions. While volunteering at the after school center, I was reminded to not get caught up in all the material things that people often stress over, since the kids we got to play with had no concern over material goods. It was really nice to see people who were grateful of myself and the other volunteers taking the time to help redo their facilities, and it reminded me that taking some time to help out others is really worthwhile! Working with the kids there also reaffirmed my goal to be a teacher. I also really enjoyed hiking in Machu Picchu!

  • peru school
    The school where Ze volunteered.

    Morning: I woke up at 7am and took my breakfast. After that, my teammates and I went to a local clinic to take care of the misfortunate kids there. We took them to the gardens to enjoy the sunshine and played with them. During their lunch time, I fed them which was really a tough job. Then we went back for our lunch.

    Afternoon: We took a 40-minute bus to a local primary school. We helped them to do some painting and repairing work to make the school look better and create better environments for the students there.

    Evening: We first took our dinner and then had a team meeting to share our experiences that day. After that, we have many options like playing games, watching movies, walking around this beautiful city or chatting with other volunteers from different countries.

    peru volunteer
    Ze had the chance to work with kids in Peru.

    Highlight: One day in the clinic, I was informed that all the kids would have a music lesson. Then the most amazing thing happened. We took all kids to the garden. It was so nice to see all the nineteen kids sitting on their wheelchairs. Although most of the kids cannot speak and some of them have little reactions to others' actions, when we played the music and danced with the music, all the kids were so excited and I could tell how happy they were from their faces. I believe this is one of the most moving pictures in my life.

    I am so glad I took this trip. I love my teammates, the food there, local people and I miss those kids so much now. I am sure I will go back there one day to visit those kids.

  • What led you to choose UBELONG for your volunteer trip to Peru?

    I was initially exploring my volunteer options with IVHQ, but I decided on UBELONG because it seemed like a smaller organization. I wanted one-on-one attention and the freedom to ask a question, or get information if I needed it. When I applied to my program, my UBELONG advisor almost immediately responded with my acceptance. It was the direct, personable attention I wanted, so I was instantaneously convinced that I wanted to continue with UBELONG.

    student in school
    Alan drew some lions for Noah's Ark!

    Additionally, UBELONG had variety of programs, including several in South America, which is where I wanted to go. Unlike other programs, they also gave me the chance to choose whether I wanted to stay in a homestay or a volunteer house. The size of the organization allowed for more options as a volunteer and a great experience over all.

    What was the most interesting cultural experience you encountered?

    There was this craze about this dish called Chiriuchu in Cusco and all of the suburbs. Chiriuchu was the Quechan word for "cold dish." It consisted of fish eggs, which were flavorless and crunchy, a hunk of really rich cheese, a piece of cuy (guinea pig), seaweed, chorizo, a piece of chicken, dried corn, corn bread and peppers.

    food from Peru
    About to eat chiriuchu in Cusco, Peru.

    One day I walked into the kitchen for breakfast and I saw three skinned guinea pigs, complete with teeth and claws, stuffed with herbs and spices. My host family and I ate chiriuchu for lunch that day. I can't say I enjoyed the dish, but it was a pretty interesting cultural experience to say the least.

    What did you find most surprising during your experience?

    After my first week of work, I discovered that even though I was on the other side of the world, people were no different than they were in my home in Ohio. I am not sure what I expected. I did not expect a place that was so foreign to me to be so familiar simultaneously.

    People rode the bus with me in the morning to work, somewhat disheveled, as if they pressed snooze one too many times. The teachers I worked with were constantly sick from the never ending colds and flus that circulated around the school. The teenagers went to the clubs and bars on the weekends, ready to test out their new found legality on a beer or two. I learned that life, no matter where it takes place, goes through the same motions, and that is remarkably comforting and beyond surprising.

    student and teacher
    Melani, my "amiguita".

    What was the highlight of your experience?

    There was a little girl in my class who seemed to have a love/hate relationship with me. She loved to deliberately rebel in ways that tested my patience. She was adorable nonetheless and very smart. She followed me around everywhere, so she became one of my favorite students.

    My class went on a field trip one day and she was by my side the whole time being extra nice to me. She decided she wanted to hold my hand and she called me her "amiguita," which means "little friend." I felt like she finally admitted to liking me, which was a huge win for me. After learning that she liked me after all, I felt like my volunteer experience was worthwhile to the students. I was making a difference and realizing that moment was really special.

  • Why did you decide to enroll with UBELONG in Peru?

    Vanessa with some of the girls at the shelter

    Vanessa: As a medical student who had just finished her first year, I wanted to do something different for my last summer off. Having never been to South America or volunteered abroad, I was eager for such an experience.

    I heard about UBELONG from another student at my school who raved about her project with UBELONG the year before. I knew it was only fitting that I check them out too.So after doing extensive research online about different projects and companies out there, UBELONG was the only one that fit my needs the best.

    They were the only ones I found to have a project I was passionate about in a location I was eager to travel to. And they turned out to even exceed those expectations.

    Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.

    • 8:00am - wake up
    • 8:15am - breakfast (bread, coffee and either eggs, pancakes or a fruit salad)
    • 9:00am - 12pm - volunteer at the shelter (the activities ranged from cooking and cake-making lessons to dance parties and teaching English)
    • 12:00pm-1:00pm - walk through San Pedro market and bask in the aroma of all the products and food sold there
    • 1:30pm - Lunch (it varied, but it was very delicious)
    • 2:00pm - 4:00pm - volunteer at "The Meeting Place" (their milkshakes and waffles are out of this world)
    • 4:00pm - 7:00pm - explore either Cusco or surrounding areas; sometimes I went running at the high altitudes to increase my cardiac output
    • 7:00pm - 9:00pm - go to dinner (or eat in) and taste so many different kinds of foods in the area
    • 9:00pm - later - hang out with other volunteers/friends

    If you could go back and do something differently, what would it be?

    Tasting chicha morada for the first time
    Tasting chicha morada for the first time

    Vanessa: If I could go back and do something different, it would be to familiarize myself more fully with the area to which I'm traveling. Arriving in Peru, I realized how much I didn't know about the country historically and only learned while there.

    Even though it's always great to learn about a country while within it's borders, it would have been nice to have known more about the Inca history or that one of my favorite foods, quinoa, is indigenous to Peru.

    There is definitely something to be said about having a planned--though flexible to leave room for the unexpected--itinerary to make sure to explore much more of the country while I'm there and to fully immerse myself in the history of the country.

    What was the most interesting cultural difference you encountered?

    Vanessa: Not being able to flush away the toilet paper. It was such a small aspect of our lives while in Peru, but quite a difficult habit to break.

    Another big difference I encountered was the lack of central (or no) heating. It took a bit of adjusting as well, especially when temperatures dropped at night and I found myself sleeping in my winter coat, under 5 layers of wool blankets, but was still cold.

    Tell me about one person you met.

    Omelette making class with the girls at the shelter
    Omelette making class with the girls at the shelter

    Vanessa: She was another volunteer, just 18 and traveling all over South America for a few months before starting university in the fall. We worked at the shelter together and even though she was a good 7 years younger than me, she possessed a maturity and enthusiasm that was captivating and beyond her years.

    I admired her initiative to make something of her travels by volunteering at the shelter rather than simply party her way through the X amount of months she was in South America.

    And don't get me started on her cooking; she made it her mission to fully immerse herself in the culture. Every day after work, we'd walk through San Pedro and buy groceries for that night's meal, always keeping the dishes culturally diverse.

  • What inspired you to volunteer abroad with UBELONG in Peru?

    Jenn Beening and one of her students

    Jenn: Last year I started to seriously consider volunteering abroad, not only to follow my travel aspirations, but also to give something back to the community and people in need. I heard of UBELONG through word-of-mouth and after researching and "shopping around" for ideal organizations, I ultimately decided on their community for a few reasons.

    First, the flexibility of UBELONG's programs allowed me to tailor my project to my interests and background. I truly felt like they worked with me to make my experience as enjoyable and valuable as possible, both for me and Club C.O.R.A.S.O.N.

    I also admired their grassroots approach to volunteering and their larger than life mission to make a difference. It was affordable and completely worth every penny... although I personally don't think you can put a price tag on this type of experience.

    What was your favorite moment of the trip?

    Volleyball games were often delayed when balls rolled down the hillside
    Volleyball games were often delayed when balls rolled down the hillside

    Jenn: I'll never forget my first day at the center. I had volunteered at an after-school center in Chicago during college, but I honestly didn't know what to expect in such a foreign environment.

    Tuesday happened to be a "free" day and our time was spent playing consecutive games of volleyball, boys vs. girls. It was definitely a favorite among the kids.

    While I was eager to connect with all of them, I also nervous that they wouldn't accept or trust me. In that moment my emotions were running wild, I took a breath of relief, and prepared for the emotional roller coaster ahead.

    Of course the last day at Club C.O.R.A.S.O.N. was also unforgettable. Before departing for Cuzco, I started a fundraiser for the center. I wanted to offer them something that would have a lasting impact; something durable and multi-functional.

    We raised about $500 which was just enough to purchase a multimedia projector. And my last day at the club was our big movie premiere. During my time at the center, it was easy to understand the impact this gift was going to have, both for entertainment and educational purposes.

    But it was in that moment that I truly felt the impact those brave children had made in my life. They taught me lessons that I will carry with me and pay forward to others for eternity. You just don't forget moments like that.

    Was there one kid in particular at the after-school center who you will remember forever?

    So young yet so skilled with a wood saw
    So young yet so skilled with a wood saw

    Jenn: I'll never forget one of the regular boys, Oliver. He was the Dennis the Menace of the bunch and defied authority like it was his job. During English lessons, volunteers would take turns scooping him off the tables because he would try to escape through the windows.

    He was rough with other kids and laughed vengefully when they would cry, but he knew exactly what he did was wrong. But on several occasions, when Oliver brought his litter sisters to the center, the way he protected them with his "big brother" confidence was surprisingly admirable.

    I could tell that he was used to taking care his sisters and he would do anything to keep them safe. So regardless of how difficult it was to manage Oliver's rebellion, he was truly a loving and kind-hearted boy.

    If you could go back and do something differently, what would it be?

    "I would have liked to participate in other community projects"
    "I would have liked to participate in other community projects"

    Jenn: Looking back, I would have liked to participate in other community projects and efforts outside of Club C.O.R.A.S.O.N. I volunteered for a short while in Valle Sagrado, but I regret not filling my spare time with more of work.

    UBELONG partnered with a Spanish school in Cuzco, so I was able to take language classes. But if I could go back, I would have been more serious about my studies when I had the opportunity to practice with locals every day.

    Peru is such a beautiful and diverse country that its landmarks and sacredness are too exhilarating to pass up. So I also don't regret being able to experience that.

    Would you participate in this program again?

    Jenn: Absolutely. I wish I could have extended my trip and my volunteer project, but I would love to return to Club C.O.R.A.S.O.N. someday. I intend to keep in touch with the director and the wonderful volunteer community I met during my 6-week stay.

    Thanks to UBELONG's alumni network and efforts, I'm able to keep in touch with a lot of my friends overseas.

  • What inspired you to volunteer abroad with UBELONG in Peru?

    Emily atop Machu Picchu as the sun rises
    Emily atop Machu Picchu as the sun rises

    Emily: I feel most alive and myself when I am exploring new places and giving my time to help others in some way. I have always wanted to volunteer abroad but kept putting it off for one reason or another until last Spring. In this past year, I kept getting little nudges from the Universe that I was meant to go to Peru. Every day I would get a little reminder that I should follow my intuition and go volunteer in Peru; someone would mention Peru in conversation, or I would come across an article that mentioned Peru, and the final catalyst was when I went to see an independent film called Girl Rising that focused on heartwarming stories of girls around the world and one of them was about girl in Peru. Somehow I stumbled across UBELONG and really respected their bottom up approach to volunteering, so I decided to just follow my heart and volunteer in Cusco, Peru.

    Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.

    Emily: I volunteered with children in need at an after-school program in Cusco, Peru. I was in a classroom with about twenty 4 year olds who were just as excited to greet me with hugs and smiles everyday as I was. We would sing songs, learn the days of the week, run around outside and draw pictures while learning how to share your crayons with your neighbor.

    Tell me about one person you met.

    A little girl playing outside
    A little girl playing outside

    Emily: There was one boy in my classroom where I volunteered who always sat by himself and didn't want to participate in any activities. This little boy captured my heart because I saw such a sweet tender shy boy who wanted to be involved, but just decided to observe from the outside looking in. Each day I found he would open up to me a little more as I would give him hugs and attention each day. He never smiled but I could tell he wanted to...as he was self-conscious of his teeth that were about to fall out from lack of nutrition. He started to flash his beautiful smile to his classmates as he began to feel more comfortable and would inch his little chair out of the corner of the room and closer to the other kids, this warmed my heart.

    If you could go back and do something different, what would it be?

    Emily: I would not change a thing, as everything led me to where I am today. I am now learning to trust my intuition and heart more and quiet the distractions that I create that prevent me from doing so. I am now learning to place the things that I value most in the forefront of my life, so I now choose to L.I.V.E. my best life.

    Love
    Inspire
    Volunteer
    Empower

    Has your worldview changed as a result of your trip?

    Emily along with fellow UBelong volunteers taking a weekend trip to Machu Picchu
    Emily along with fellow UBelong volunteers taking a weekend trip to Machu Picchu

    Emily: My inner view has changed because of my viewing of the world. Volunteering abroad has helped me to open my heart to following my passion and help others to do the same.

    Volunteering with Peruvian kids everyday made me realize that no matter where you go around the world or how much money you have, kids are really the same regardless of circumstances. They just want to play with friends, laugh about everything, give a lot of love, and explore new things. These kids reminded me to choose to live a more fulfilling life regardless of circumstances, as it's really just a state of mind.

    When you give more, you live more!

  • A view of the gorgeous Plaza de Armas, minutes away from Jessica's home
    A view of the gorgeous Plaza de Armas, minutes away from Jessica's home

    Why did you decide to volunteer abroad with UBELONG in Peru?

    Jessica: Ever since I was a kid, I have longed to travel and see as much of the world as possible. Meeting new people and seeing new places always struck me as one of the best ways to gain new perspective on your own place in the world and the connection between all human beings.

    In the Fall of 2012, I was in school and having an unsatisfactory semester. I was unmotivated and uninspired and generally felt like I was burning out. I realized that I could finish school in one semester less than planned and so I decided to take the next semester off and do something completely different for a few months. I've always found volunteering experiences very rewarding and after much research, I came across the UBELONG website. Their programs seemed like perfect fit and had the flexibility to fit the time I had to travel and great mentoring connections.

    Children walking through the local market at Pisac
    Children walking through the local market at Pisac

    Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.

    Jessica: I worked in an after-school center in Cusco, Peru. During my stay, I lived in the Spanish school Amauta with other volunteers and language students. The set up was fantastic because it was so easy to meet other travelers and make fast friends. My project ran from 3-6pm and was close enough to walk to. I spent my time there playing games with the children, teaching them a little English, and generally helping out however I could. In my free time, I explored the city, took trips to other parts of the country, or just relaxed with friends.

    Ten years from now, what's the one thing you think you'll remember from the trip?

    Jessica: The first time I walked into the after-school center, the children all swarmed around me to kiss me on the cheeks and hug me. Many of them were from extremely poor families or had absent parents and they were always just so grateful to have someone come visit them. It was an extremely humbling experience and it made me realize my own good fortune in a way that I will never forget.

    The market at Pisac, in the Sacred Valley
    The market at Pisac, in the Sacred Valley

    What did you wish you knew before going to Peru?

    Jessica: I wish I knew how to speak Spanish better! I had a little background in the language and I definitely made an effort to learn as much as possible while I was there, but I definitely could have benefited from knowing it a bit better going into the experience.

    How has this experience impacted your future? (Personally, professionally, etc)

    Jessica: My time in Peru gave me a lot more confidence about traveling in general. I realized that no matter where you go, you will meet great people and be able to figure things out. It's easy to get stressed about planning every detail of your trip ahead of time, but it's definitely feasible to sort most things out (accommodations, tickets, etc.) on the ground. I think this will definitely help me in future travels.

  • Why did you decide to volunteer with UBELONG in Peru?

    Lisa: I attended the Eleanor Roosevelts Girls' Leadership Workshop (GLW) when I was a high schooler and the program focuses on human rights and social justice. Since then I have had a burning desire to do something to help improve the world, even in a same way. Growing up in a small town, everyone thinks locally and not globally so it was hard to find a way to go abroad at first. In college, I went to a conference in Washington DC where I met Raul Roman, the co-founder of UBELONG. He made it sound so easy. After I returned home, I looked through all their programs and found one that fit my interests, math and Spanish. I had always wanted to go to South America and I love math. UBELONG made it easy and they were extremely helpful every step of the way to make sure I had a great experience.

    Volunteer in Peru with children with UBELONG
    Volunteer in Peru with children with UBELONG

    Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.

    Lisa: Every day was a little different but generally you would have a morning class and two afternoon classes. Each class had about 10-20 children (or adults). I would typically do my lesson plans the night before or the morning of. In Huaycan (a "suburb" of Lima) we worked in 3 of the zones (D, S, and Z) so if you had a class in S or Z you would have to also make time for a combi (their public transportation) ride to the zone. All the volunteers live together in a house in Zone D.

    How has this experience impacted your future?

    Ever since GLW, I knew I wanted to do something to make a positive impact, but this experience with UBELONG allowed me to see that I am capable of doing so. I have also met some of the most incredible mentors I could have in my life through volunteering with UBELONG. Even though I am not volunteering currently, I regularly keep in touch with Cedric, my UBELONG mentor and co-founder of the organization, as well as Raul. Eventually my hope is to do grassroots development work with getting technology available to developing countries.

  • Why did you decide to volunteer abroad with UBELONG in Peru?

    Huili: I first learned about the UBELONG organization through a friend who attends Cornell University. I grew interested after browsing through the organization's website regarding its various projects. Each section contains detailed information on the host country, available projects, Q&A, and photographs. I have always dreamed of traveling to Peru, and UBELONG's offer of a caregiving project in Cusco, Peru made my decision very easy.

    Huili and the team of volunteers at the center for malnourished children
    Huili and the team of volunteers at the center for malnourished children

    Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.

    Huili: I spearheaded a team of 8 college students on a caregiving project in Cusco, Peru. For two weeks, we volunteered at the rehabilitation Center for malnourished children. Each day, we dedicate approximately 5 hours to facilitating the meals and organizing recreational activities for the 30-40 children at the center. These activities varied from indoor singing, reading, and drawing to outdoor field trips. Many of the children came from underprivileged family backgrounds and were extremely excited by our appearances and enthusiasm.

    We also had a chance to volunteer at the local clinic for disabled and orphaned children. This was only once a week, but we were able to wheelchair the children from within the usual hospital wall to outside playgrounds. We shared stories and watched cartoons with them. These activities made us feel the positive impact we were able to give for the children. Even to this day, their laughter and "hasta luego" still linger.

    Moreover, because Cusco is a city full of history and impending discoveries, during our afternoons and evenings, we ventured to museums, Incan ruins, and markets. We also had the opportunity to make friends with the other UBELONG volunteers from all over the world and listen to their stories. Every night a different recreational event would be provided at UBELONG's partner Spanish school. We had a cooking class on traditional Peruvian food as well as a salsa dancing class. Over the weekend, our team had a opportunity to visit the breathtaking Machu Picchu as well. Every moment of our journey was memorable.

    Huili at the rehabilitation center for malnourished children
    Huili at the rehabilitation center for malnourished children

    How has this experience helped you grow personally and professionally?

    Huili: This experience has affected me in many ways. Professionally, I learned the importance of organization and taking initiatives. Organization was necessary to keep teams oriented and focused. We were given the option of inputting new ideas and creating new activities for the caregiving project. For example, we invented several new games to play with the children. Through observation, we also made suggestions of how to improve the meal feedings. Personally, I was grateful to know that our presence brought the children joy.

    Our help, however small, was appreciated by the staff of the rehabilitation center. By being immersed in a new culture, I was able to open my perspectives and improve my Spanish speaking skills. It was a pleasant change from the fast-paced urban lifestyle of New York City, where our team was from. We had a chance to slow our footsteps and fully grasp our surroundings. At the end of our journey, many of us made goals of returning on future service trips with UBELONG.

About the provider

UBELONG is the most affordable, professional and supportive international volunteering organization in the world.

Volunteer abroad in Africa, Asia and Latin America from 1 week to 6 months.

WHAT can you do?

For one week to six months, live in a community and volunteer on a community or environmental project.

WHERE can you go?
Asia: India, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos
Latin America: Mexico, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Peru
Africa: Ghana, Morocco

WHEN can you go?
Projects run year-round and you can join from one week to six months.

HOW much do you pay?
Costs start as low as US$350 for a 1 week placement.

Among other world-class services, you work 1 on 1 with a UBELONG Mentor and receive a Preparation Booklet, in-country orientation, housing, meals, project supervision and 24/7 support.