5 Things to be Aware when Volunteering in Peru
5 Things to be Aware when Volunteering in Peru,
or, elsewhere in Latin America…
- A Different Volunteering Perspective
One of the most difficult realities about volunteering in Latin America – and Peru is no exception – is this: organizations do not often provide structure for their volunteers. This means that volunteers are sometimes required to take more initiative and look for things that need to be done. Although this can be difficult at times, it is a great opportunity to practice taking initiative and to apply your unique ideas to the place you are volunteering.
- The (Spanish) Language Barrier: speaking Spanish
Don´t forget that you will be living and volunteering in Peru among people who don´t speak your native language. They speak Spanish! This means that communication can often be difficult, but not impossible. In fact, volunteering is a great way to practice your Spanish in real situations, rather than in the controlled environment of a classroom. Therefore, don´t be afraid to dive into the language with full force and get lots of practice while you are volunteering!
The AMAUTA Spanish and Volunteer Program includes a Spanish Language course. During the course you will learn the basics of the Spanish language, including practical vocabulary, listing skills, basic grammar, local expressions. This will greatly improve your communication possibilities with the people you will meet during your volunteer placement, who will greatly appreciate your efforts.
Besides a Spanish language course AMAUTA offers guiding, a workshop, project visits, accommodation including (2) meals and cultural activities, that will provide you opportunities to learn about the local culture and to meet local people and fellow volunteers.
- Varying Visa Requirements
It is important to be aware of the visa requirements of the country in which you will be volunteering. Argentina, Peru and Chile, for example, issue (tourist) visas upon entry. Brazil, on the other hand, requires tourists to get a visa before they arrive. Your tourist visa for Peru (for most nationalities), will be given for 180 days. After that, you can renew the visa by leaving and re-entering the country. Here you can read more about how to renew your visa border trip from Peru to Bolivia.
Furthermore, it is essential to know that some countries require tourists to pay a fee upon entry in order to obtain the visa. Visas to some countries are free, which is the case of Peru; whereas others, such as to Bolivia, can cost up to $160 (for US citizens).
- Differences in Culture (time, clothing, etc)
When participating in our Spanish and Volunteer program in Peru, It is important to keep in mind that you will be volunteering in a different culture. This means that you might not be accustomed to many of the customs of daily life that you will encounter.
Concept of Time in Peru
An example of the different culture of Latin America is how this region of the world views time. If you plan to meet someone at 3pm, they might not come until 3:30 or 4pm. Therefore, it´s important to be flexible and understand that the people in Peru think more about personal relationships than sticking to a strict schedule.
Dress code in Peru
Additionally, be aware that the ´´dress code´´ of Latin America can be different than you are used to. Most men and women only wear pants (no shorts!), and casual clothes aren´t worn very often. Keep this in mind while you are packing for your Latin American adventure.
Furthermore, a random thing to note is that the plumbing in Latin America is sensitive. This means that it is not permitted to put toilet paper down the toilet. Instead, put it in the trash can next to the toilet. It is also a good idea to carry some extra toilet paper with you, just in case you find yourself in a bathroom where it is not provided (there are many of them).
- Learn from other volunteers
Prepare for your trip by reading about other volunteer experiences. For your convenience, we have listed a few volunteer stories here.
- Volunteering in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, working in infrastructure and a local school in Cusco
- Teaching English in Peru as a volunteer
- Read the story of Lynn, volunteering with kids at an after school project
- Meet Sarah, our volunteer coordinator and read her tips!
- Staying Healthy
Staying healthy while traveling through and living in Peru can be challenging, especially if you haven´t traveled much and your body isn´t used to the foreign bacteria and food. Just make sure that you get the appropriate vaccinations prior to your departure, bring any medicine that you might foresee needing, and take it easy on your first few days. It is also important to be careful to drink bottled water, as it is not safe to drink the tap water in most Latin American countries.
With these details in mind, you will be ready for your fun and exciting volunteer adventure in Peru or Argentina, or in any other country of Latin-America!
AMAUTA offers volunteer placements in different areas: social work, environmental work, education, tourism and others. Questions about Volunteering in Peru? Contact us or email us firstname.lastname@example.org, or download our volunteer project list here.