Peru: Ancient and Contemporary Cultures

Journey across the land of the Inca and explore historical and contemporary communities during a summer abroad in Peru.

Experience the diverse communities, historical complexity, and geographic diversity of Peru during a month of cultural exploration on this immersive high school summer abroad program. Immediately begin learning about Peru’s history and different ethnic communities during the orientation in Lima—Peru’s capital and largest city, overlooking the Pacific coast—while visiting the Larco Museum, the city’s colonial areas, and other important sites.

In the city of Trujillo, in northern Peru, spend two weeks living with a Peruvian family. Once the center of Chimú culture, Trujillo is known as the capital of marinera dance and the land of the Peruvian Paso horse. During this period, you and your group have music and dance workshops while learning about the unique culture, Afro-Peruvian rhythms, and artistic heritage of the region. Meet with local students to engage in English-Spanish language exchanges, and go on an excursion to Cajamarca to explore pre-Inca archaeological sites and artifacts. During your daylong excursion to Pacasmayo harbor, work with local residents on a volunteer project, such as helping to paint and repair community buildings or working at a soup kitchen.

Your Peruvian exploration continues as you travel to Cuzco, a fascinating mix of pre-Columbian and colonial history, art, and architecture and long considered the archaeological capital of the Americas. Visit the temple Coricancha, the walled complex Sacsayhuamán, and the archaeological site Tambomachay. From Ollataytambo—an ancient Incan mountain town—take a two-hour train ride to Machu Picchu, the “Lost City of the Incas,” to experience one of the most treasured historical and archaeological sites in the world.

Orientation: Lima, 5 days
Homestay: Trujillo,* 15 days
Other Accommodations: Hotels

* Homestay locations can vary.

Days 1–5

Orientation in Lima

  • Learn about the history and culture of PeruStudents with Peruvian families
  • Visit important sites in the city, including the Larco Museum and colonial areas of the city
  • Get to know other members of your group during activities
  • Practice your Spanish language skills
  • Hike San Cristobal Hill

During the orientation period, you and your group will stay in a centrally located hotel.

Days 6–22

Homestay in Trujillo

  • See sites of interest in Trujillo
  • Do activities with your homestay family
  • Participate in cultural exchange activities with artistic groups and students from local universities
  • Participate in English/Spanish language exchange activities with local students

Thematic Focus

  • Attend workshops on Peruvian cajón playing and Marinera dancing
  • Perform a community service project such as volunteering in a soup kitchen
  • Go on an excursion to Cajamarca to explore pre-Inca archaeological sites and artifacts
  • Visit Pacasmayo harbor

During this period, you will stay in the home of a family in Trujillo.

Days 23–27

Travel in Cuzco and Surrounding Area

  • Go on a walking tour of Cuzco and see sites of interest, including the temple Coricancha, the walled complex Sacsayhuamán, and the archaeological site Tambomachay
  • Visit nearby Maras, a town known for its salt ponds, and Ollantaytambo, an ancient Inca mountain town
  • Go on excursions to the ruins at Qenqo Puca-Pucara and Moray
  • Learn about traditional textiles in Chinchero
  • Go on a daylong excursion to Machu Picchu

During the orientation period, you and your group will stay in hostels and hotels.

Day 28

Program Reflection and Wrap-up in Lima

  • Reflect with your group on your experiences during the program

During the reflection period, you and your group will stay in a centrally located hotel.

Day 29


Please note: This itinerary is only a sample and is subject to change. Because of factors such as group size and availability of in-country offerings such as festivals, your experience — including sites visited and the number of days spent in each location — may differ somewhat from the one presented above.

These are leader bios from summer 2014.

William Cavu-Litman

A native of Redwood City, California, William Vosa Cavu-Litman graduated with a BA in behavioral sciences and sociology from San José State University in 2009. In 2011, he completed his MA in early childhood education at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. Vosa taught for two years with Teach for America before heading abroad to South Korea to work in international education. For the past few years, Vosa has been teaching young learners, supervising schools, and training teachers around Seoul.

With family from the Fiji Islands, Vosa has traveled extensively in Fiji; he has also continued his explorations through Mexico and across Europe, including Spain, France, Greece, and England. He has visited many countries in Asia and has been a leader with The Experiment three time, in Spain in 2011, Chile in 2013, and most recently Peru in 2014. He enjoys rivers, lakes, and oceans; loves riding bicycles; and thoroughly enjoys learning about new cultures.

Valentine Sergon

Raised mostly in Rockville, Maryland (but also some in Kenya), Valentine Sergon fled the East Coast to attend Pomona College in the Golden State. She majored in international politics, studied as many languages as could fit in her schedule, and served as a residential advisor. In her third year, Valentine studied abroad in the Middle East and Latin America, allowing her to practice her two favorite languages. While in Oman with SIT Study Abroad, she held an internship teaching low-income, high-performing Omani teenagers English as preparation for university. She then spent a semester in Argentina, studying at the university in Buenos Aires, eating her weight in beef, and not learning how to tango. At the end of the program, she conducted research about Arab-Argentine communities and traveled throughout the Southern Cone. She has been fortunate to visit five continents and over a dozen countries including Oman, Qatar, UAE, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, and Brazil (for the 2014 World Cup!). Valentine now teaches at an international school in Abu Dhabi.

On my birthday, my whole (host) family came—even extended family. They took me to the beach at night and even got me presents. I felt like I was part of the family. They cracked eight eggs on my head! A new tradition for me. Being such a part of the family made it like I was at home, and made it a real experience. By being in a smaller town and living with a family, I learned how differently people can live. That's how you learn about a culture and a people. It made my trip a lot better. I didn't feel like a tourist; I felt Peruvian..

Elizabeth Avina Ayala, Saint Helena High School

Everyone in my host family made me feel like I was truly included. Each member of the family was delighted by my presence, which made the homestay enjoyable, too. I would help my host sister, Camila, with her English while I practiced my Spanish; my older brother, Mauricio, and I would chat with his university friends; and my host father, who was like a second father figure to me. Finally, my host mother and I would do everything together. The Experiment is an opportunity that comes once in a lifetime.

Deja Shelton, Country Day School, Sacred Heart