• Peru
    • Arequipa
4 to 50 weeks

Program Details

Age Min.
Age Max
Spring Break Summer
Small Group (1-15)


Starting Price
What's Not Included
Accommodation Activities Airfare Domestic Airfare Airport Transfers Equipment Meals SIM cards Transportation Travel Insurance Visa
Dec 10, 2019
Jan 03, 2018
33 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

We are looking for enthusiastic people with a passion for education to work at our school project in a rural region in the Andes in southern Peru, about 10 hours by bus from the city of Arequipa.

As a support teacher you will work alongside a local teacher at our partner school, Colegio Honofre Benavides in the town of Tomepampa, Cotahuasi Canyon.

Please note this project is open April - December.

Video and Photos

Program Highlights

  • Gain valuable teaching experience
  • Unplug and rediscover a slower paced life
  • Teach children while also learning from them
  • Spend a day off visiting the beautiful Monasterio de Santa Catalina
  • Take a day trip to Colca Canyon

Related Programs

Program Reviews

5.00 Rating
based on 8 reviews
  • 5 rating 100%
  • 4 rating 0%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 0%
  • 1 rating 0%
  • Impact 4.5
  • Support 4.9
  • Fun 4.4
  • Value 4.75
  • Safety 4.9
Showing 1 - 8 of 8 reviews
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Yes, I recommend this program

Teaching in Tomepampa

Even before I arrived in Peru, the staff at Volunteers Peru were sure to make me feel welcome. They picked me up at the airport and bought the bus ticket to Cotahuasi. Furthermore, they provided me with a cellphone so I could communicate with my family while I was in Tomepampa.

I taught English in Tomepampa for 5 months. It is a beautiful, quiet little town surrounded by mountains and the people are very friendly. I taught in both elementary and high school level. In high school, I would assist the teachers with their class. Usually, this meant reading a text, helping with the pronunciation, writing at the board or helping the students complete their homework. At times, I was asked to take a more active part in the class, but those times were rare. There are two teachers: Maribel and Julissa. Both were very kind to me and made sure I felt part of the community.

Since there are no official English class in elementary school, I made my own classes. This was particularly insightful because I got to learn how to make my own lessons, how to improve my teaching and how to interact with the students. While there were days when the children would make my life difficult, they were still eager to learn. They were adorable and I am glad I got to teach them.

What is great about this experience is that it is very flexible. You do not have to teach in elementary if you do not want to. On the other hand, if you wish to take a more active part, you can teach your own lessons in English. I heard that a previous volunteer taught in science as well.

The hostel is very well equipped. The bedroom is spacious with its own bathroom and shower. The kitchen has a refrigerator, an oven and a microwave oven, and recently they added a television. Dominga prepares lunch (and dinner as well if you want). Her food taste great and she usually gives large portions. So large in fact that usually, I would only eat a snack for dinner. Dominga has four children, two of which interact a lot with volunteers: Mayli and Moises. Without them, my stay would have been very boring. They would show me around town and we watched movies together. Watching the Dragon Ball series with them was very fun.

If you are going to stay in Tomepampa for a long period of time like I did, I recommend bringing something to keep yourself occupied. It can get rather dull after school hours. Also, bring some pictures or some souvenirs from your home country. The children at school are always curious about where you come from.

What would you improve about this program?
I have already made some suggestions to the project manager. The program is very good as it is.
108 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Unique Experience in Rural Peru!

Beautiful area, safe community, great coordinating staff!
Megan, the volunteer coordinator at Volunteer Peru was extremely responsive and helpful during my 3 week experience. She coordinated airport pick up, showed me around Arequipa (including a very important first grocery store visit) and made sure to purchase bus tickets to the more remote region of Cotahuasi and even helped getting me to Cusco after volunteering.
While I was teaching, the other maestras were very open to having me jump in and lead the lesson at times. Staff and students were friendly and open as well. The classes themselves were quite different from those in the US. I would definitely suggest bringing in some of your own ideas for helping students practicing the language after they learn the initial content.
The area itself is quite picturesque and people here were the friendliest I met in Peru. Tomepampa has a close knit community and as female traveling on my own, I never felt disrespected or unsafe here.
If you are looking to really get away from it all, bring some creative teaching ideas to an open community, and enjoy the natural beauty that this region has to offer, this is the place for you!

What would you improve about this program?
Having someone at the hostel consistently to receive new guests, discuss resources available, and explain how to get to towns like Cotahuasi would have been helpful during that first week. I think with the kids coming back from London and me going up at the same time, the orientation kind of got lost in the shuffle.
The remoteness of the region did lend itself to some challenges as well. As it is mostly made up of farming communities, when school was out, shops and restaurants did not keep regular hours. Wifi was hard to come by but there is Wifi in a few shops about a 25min bus ride away from the town where you stay. A basic level of Spanish is certainly required to travel in this region as almost no one in the area speaks English.
113 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Perfect Volunteer Experience

I taught in Tomepampa through Volunteers Peru for about two months and it exceeded my expectations. I spent 20 or so hours per week in class as an assistant English teacher, with another few spent conducting after-school conversation classes. The workload is light, making this a great program for new teachers, experienced teachers looking for a bit of a break (like me), or anyone wanting to gain some cross-cultural experience. Outside of class, I spent a lot of time playing sports with the students and exploring the surrounding area. The Colca Canyon is easily one of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring places I've ever been, full of scenic vistas, quaint towns, and friendly people. I had so many memorable experiences in Tomepampa in only two months, that I wish I had stayed longer. I would recommend this program to anyone looking for a rewarding experience that is off the beaten path!

What would you improve about this program?
I've already made some suggestions to the coordinator, but there is very little I would change.
123 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Colegio Honofre Benavides Tomepampa

Making the decision to volunteer in Tomepampa was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I was really nervous at first, as the location was quite remote and I wasn't sure my level of Spanish was quite ready for it. However, I shouldn't have been worried. The rural location of Tomepampa is precisely what gives it it's beauty and charm; you can't help but feel happy and peaceful when you are surrounded by such amazing scenery! The locals welcomed us warmly from day 1, frequently checking on us to make sure we were OK, and telling us all about the area. I found the project challenging, as keeping the attention of many excited Peruvian children a challenge, but their hearts are big and welcoming, so you can't help but love them. My Spanish improved an incredible amount t over this time, and the snapshot of their lives that I experienced gave me a taste of what life for these people is really like. I strongly encourage you to consider volunteering in Tomepampa, not just to see the sights or improve your language, but because doing so will completely immerse you in Peru and you will feel completely at home in this beautiful country.

123 people found this review helpful.
Yes, I recommend this program

A month in the remote areas of the Andes - probably my no. 1 experience so far

I spent one month in Tomepampa as a teacher's assistant in English classes with Volunteers Peru. As soon as I got to Arequipa I felt welcome and everything was taken care of by lovely Eva and Marita.

In Tomepampa I stayed in Casa Primavera which felt like being at home. I had my own cozy room with bathroom and access to the shared kitchen. Besides from Carmela who makes you wonderful lunches, her sons Hector and Miguel also live in the house. They were always up for things like guiding me in the area, going fishing or watching movies and I really enjoyed having them around. The village of Tomepampa is kind of small but there are plenty of small shops where you can buy the most necessary things.

The school is located just a minute's walk away from the house and is divided into two parts: the primary and the secondary. I spent more or less all the time in secondary as that's where they learn English. The two English teachers are really different, Maribel has a pretty good level of English and does a lot of teaching in front of the class, while Julissa struggles quite often with the language and has more discussions with the class (often in Spanish though).

When I was with Maribel she usually did the teaching but asked me for help with pronunciation practices with the class. Also, when the class were working in smaller groups or by themselves I helped the students out when they asked for it and occasionally I checked homework or tasks they'd done during class. Most of the time I was just sitting around and some of the one block classes I didn't do anything at all, which was kind of boring.

Luckily the classes with Julissa was the opposite. I was constantly asked to help either her or the students with pretty much anything. Sometimes Julissa held the class while I was writing things she said on the board and at other times I more or less held the class. As I mentioned earlier she does struggle with the language, which means she has to look up things in her dictionary so often that she just carries it around all the time. Also when she writes things on the board she spells it wrong quite often so of course it's not the optimal situation for the students. On the other hand she is really sweet and really cares about the students and most importantly she makes every effort to get better.

Four days a week I had an extra hour of English in the afternoon with the kids who are doing an exchange with England. The four hours added to the already five hours of English in school and rather long days was a bit excessive, there wasn't really any time for the students to study in between.

When you're not in school you should go explore the surroundings. The Cotahuasi canyon is something else and there's no way you'll be able to see it all unless you stay for a couple of months. I did at least one trip every weekend and I think my top two was visiting the small lake outside Cotahuasi (which is really easy to visit) and hiking the mountain above Cahuana (which is not easy at all). The hike up to Cauhana is definitely more spectacular if you take the steps from Alca but it's probably easier to walk the switchbacks from Luicho.

If you're still thinking of going, stop and just go! You won't regret it. I'm definitely going back one day.

116 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Colegio Honofre Benavides - Tomepampa

So, working at Honofre Benavides School in Tomepampa was perhaps one of the coolest experiences of my life! This primary and secondary-level school is located in the Cotahuasi Canyon in southern Peru - a very remote portion of the country with breathtaking views at literally every turn. The spectacular hikes alone are worth the the time and energy that you'll put into this project (just see the pictures below). And be sure to have Volunteers Peru lay out the best spots for you to visit while you're there - they've seen all the best vistas! However, the greatest part of this experience for me was becoming part of the tiny community of Tomepampa. I never was able to find an official record of its population, but if I had to guess, I'd say there are probably less than 200 people living there - 200 of the friendliest, warmest people I have ever met. Whether passing down the block to the store or hopping a local bus to the hot springs, you're likely to be met with a smile and a ''Buen dia! Como estas?'' Many will proceed to ask you if their town is to your liking, and you may even find yourself invited to an upcoming festival (they celebrate a lot)! The students you teach at Honofre Benavides school will chat you up about what it's like to live in your country and will marvel at any pictures of your homeland that you're willing to share. They may even venture to speak English with you outside of school, which is the coolest thing ever! Living with Carmela and her kids at Casa Primavera and eating her stellar traditional cuisine is an added bonus. Her young sons, Miguel and Hector love to play and ask you all sorts of questions, so be sure to spend lots of time with them! They will love it, and it'll be time well spent, as there really isn't much to do on quiet nights in the canyon. This opportunity is really an incredible means to disconnect and get back to the basics of life - making meaningful connections with the people around you, learning from them and sharing your wisdom in return (in this case, the beauty of the English language)!

121 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Unforgettable experience in Tomepampa

I spent two months in Tomepampa with Volunteers Peru last year and two weeks at their other project in Arequipa. Those two months in Tomepampa were amazing. Not only was working with children in primary and secondary schools a fun and rewarding experience but being able to live in the Cotahuasi Canyon without internet surrounded by another culture and a beautiful landscape (and lots of hiking) was an unforgettable experience. I helped teach ESL to students in primary school, assisted primary school teachers in the classroom as well as the English teacher in secondary school. One of the things I enjoyed most about my time in Tomepampa was how welcoming the local community was… The teachers and other school staff, the local store owners, Carmela and her children (who live in the Primavera hotel volunteers stay at) and other local townspeople were always trying to keep volunteers in the loop about what was going on in and around Tomepampa. The towns all have their own traditions and festivals and if you volunteer in Tomepampa you’re bound to get to see at least one festival. The Cotahuasi Canyon doesn’t have as much tourism as some of the other canyons in Peru like the Colca Canyon and that makes volunteering in Tomepampa a very cultural and unique experience.

When it comes to working in Colegio Honofre Benavides the English teacher most volunteers work with in the secondary school is very nice and having a volunteer at the school to help her with her lessons helps improve the quality of the English teaching these students receive. Being 11 hours outside of Arequipa, Tomepampa is a rural town in Peru and does not see as many resources as other schools that aren’t so isolated may see. As a volunteer you can work alongside Roxanna, the English teacher,and in primary school teaching English/assisting in the classroom. I have also heard of other volunteers helping out in science and math classes in secondary school so your options are endless with this volunteer project. You get what you put into it. If you want to experience another culture, practice your Spanish, help others, see incredible views on your hikes throughout the Andes on your days off, work in a school in rural Peru, this project is for you.

If you are interested in the project and would like to speak with me feel free to ask Volunteers Peru for my email.


114 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

In the heart of the Andes

I taught at this school for a month just before Christmas, 2014. I've spent 9 months traveling in South America and had some amazing times but none compare to my experiences in Cotahuasi canyon, the deepest canyon in the world.

I taught at the primary and secondary schools in Tomepampa, a small village in this fertile valley. There's no internet and the nearest big town is a ten hour bus ride away, as a result the children are unspoiled and enthusiastic. As soon as it was break time they would be playing volleyball or football or just running around for the sheer pleasure of it.

One of my pupils couldn't walk as the result of a congenital condition. One teacher explained that the previous year the class had an upstairs room and it looked like he wouldn't be able to stay with his group, but his classmates organised a rota themselves, and took it in turns to carry him up and down stairs.

The teachers and villagers were so pleased to have us they made us really welcome. Every weekend we would catch a local bus and then have wonderful treks with breathtaking views. The neighboring village was about half a kilometer away on the map but in fact it was more than 2,500 meters via mule tracks,straight up the side of the canyon.

Most of the locals were indigenous and wore colorful traditional clothes and spoke Quechua. As we visited each settlement, the style of the clothes varied quite noticeably, reflecting how isolated they were.

If you get the chance to join this program then don't even think about hesitating. I know I'm going back one day.

118 people found this review helpful.

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