Group Programs - Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why should I join ProWorld?
You should join ProWorld if you want to: live and study in some of the most breathtaking natural environments in the world; experience Peru, Belize, or Mexico in ways few travelers ever do; learn from experience rather than research and study alone; work side by side with local community members on worthwhile development projects; grow as an individual as your daily experiences challenge, inspire and educate; join volunteers from around the world; make a difference.
Q: Can I form a group of my own?
A: Yes, you can create a group of your own. If you form a group of 8 or more we will create a group program tailored specifically to the desires of your group. Program characteristics such as dates, itineraries, project selection, program costs, and duration would be based on the desires and skills of your group. Our pre-set group programs focus on everything from building schools to supporting national parks and drinking water systems to health campaigns.
Q: Is the program open to non US participants?
A: Yes, the ProWorld programs are available for individuals from any country with an adventurous spirit and a true desire to help others.
Q: I'm no longer attending school, may I participate in your program?
A: Definitely. While the majority of our participants are undergraduate or graduate students, we strongly encourage anyone who is over 18 and willing and able to apply. We find that the more mature volunteers often have the most to add to our efforts
Q: What happens when I land at the airport?
A: For our Peru programs, most flights arrive in Lima and then have a connecting flight to Cusco. A program representative will meet you at the airport in Cusco and take you to Casa ProPeru to begin orientation and your program. For those people who wish to be met by someone in Lima, ProPeru has a representative in Lima who is happy to meet you and take you to a hotel and bring you back for your connecting flight if necessary for a $50 fee. For more information regarding this extra service please contact Gloria Rossi at: email@example.com
For our Belize programs, a program representative will meet you at the airport in Belize City and take you to Cabana ProBelize in San Ignacio where you will begin your orientation and your ProBelize program!
ProMexico provides explicit directions on how to get from the airport to the hostel where orientation begins. Participants take a shuttle from the airport to the hostel where the hostel staff will be expecting them and will greet them with a ProMexico welcome packet.
Q: What are the living arrangements like?
A: Lodging is in shared rooms at local guest house accommodations and full room and board is part of the program fee. Meals are prepared by local cooks and served family style allowing for a generous amount of reflection on the day's challenges and successes. Housing is selected based on past experiences, safety, cleanliness, and friendliness. All housing options provide volunteers with beds, indoor plumbing, and showers. Homestay accommodations can be provided under special circumstances
Q: Does the community have a say in the projects?
A: Community-driven development projects are at the core of ProWorld's mission. We work directly with communities to assess their needs. ProWorld staff then evaluate the communities' proposals to determine if we have the resources and volunteers to complete the projects.
If ProWorld proposes a project, we won't begin work until the community has approved it. Once a project starts, the community must help with the labor, the resources or both.
Q: What projects have you completed?
A: For a complete list of our completed projects please visit our Project History page.
Q: Do I have to speak Spanish to participate in the programs?
A: Our programs in Peru and Mexico are open to participants with the ability to communicate at all Spanish levels. For private grou programs with a language component, after you arrive in Peru or Mexico, you will meet with your Spanish instructor who will place you in the language program at the appropriate level. Group program participants will work with a project coordinator who will help with communication. However, volunteers with more Spanish language ability will have more project options open to them and greater ability in their project work.
Belize is an English speaking country, so you do not need to have any Spanish language abilities.
Q: What is the ProWorld Experiential Learning Cycle?
A: Experiential learning occurs when a person engages in some activity, looks back at the activity critically, abstracts some useful insight from the analysis, and puts the result to work through a change in behavior. When engaged in the experiential learning process, the participants discover meaning for themselves and validate their own learning.
ProWorld incorporates the Experiential Learning Cycle into its program by engaging its participants into activities within a community in Peru, Belize or Mexico, such as local project work, living with a family, and participating in local cultural excursions. ProWorld has program components that complement the experiences that make participants critically think about and discuss their experiences in organized activities. From both the experiences and discussions, comes a learning that helps promote the part of ProWorld's mission of "cultivating educated, compassionate global citizens".
Q: What is the town like where I will be living?
A: Our ProPeru programs are based in the town of Urubamba and in the Sacred Valley. Urubamba is a medium sized town located in the center of the Sacred Valley and surrounded by many small rural communities. The town is relatively developed by Peruvian standards with running water, electricity, and paved roads. Urubamba is set in a valley with a large winding river passing by and surrounded by snow capped Andean peaks.
ProBelize programs are based in the town of San Ignacio, Cayo (population 11,000). It is surrounded by many small rural communities and is relatively developed with running water, electricity, and paved roads.
ProMexico programs are based in Oaxaca. It is a medium sized city located in the center of three extensive valleys and is surrounded by many small rural communities. The city itself is well developed by Mexican standards with running water, electricity, plumbing and paved roads.
Q: What is the weather like?
A: The climate in Cusco and the Sacred Valley, Peru is generally mild. Days are warm and sunny with an average high temperature of 66°F (19°C). Nights are cooler with an average low of 37°F (3°C) with temperatures generally 5° warmer in the Sacred Valley. The rainy season runs from November to March. The dry season runs from April to October. During the rainy season afternoon showers are common. There is rarely rain during the dry season.
Belize's climate is tropical with warm, sunny and humid days with temperatures ranging from 50°F to 95°F (10°C to 35°C) with an annual mean of 79°F (26°C). November to January are traditionally the coolest months with a 75°F (24°C) average and May to September are the warmest at about a 81°F (27°C) average. Cayo can be several degrees colder then along the coast and during November at night, temperatures can fall to 46°F (8°C) in Cayo. The rainy season is May to January.
Oaxaca is 1,534 meters (5,034ft) above sea level with yearly average highs of 75°F (29.3°C) and lows of 54.5°F (12.5°C), though temperatures will vary throughout the year: Spring 77°F (25°C), Summer 72°F (22°C), Autumn 72°F (22°C), Winter 61°F (16°C).
Q: Are weekend trips and activities included in the program fee?
A: The weekend activities are included in your program fees. Admission to ruins and costs for adventure and cultural activities, transportation, food and lodging are provided on these adventures. Group programs also go beyond weekend excursions. ProWorld tries to expose participants to activities like traditional dance and music, local food and cultural customs. We work closely with leaders to tailor the activities to what is most appropriate and desired for the group.
Q: How much spending money do I need to bring?
A: All aspects of your program are covered by ProWorld. The amount of spending money you will need beyond the program is largely determined by your spending habits. Out-of-pocket expenses that you should expect to cover yourself are gifts, going out to restaurants, phone calls home and personal items. If you are going to buy lots of gifts and go out on the weekends, we recommend $5 - $20/day. If you plan on spending more time with your host family and new local friends, we recommend $5-$10/day. In addition to the daily spending money, bring $100 - $200 to as a back up and to cover things like airport taxes ($20 - $40), non-ProWorld trips and other incidental expenses.
Q: How should I bring my money?
A: ProPeru recommends that you bring at least two sources of money. Travelers checks and cash (in US$) can be easily changed almost anywhere in Peru, including Urubamba and Cusco. A credit card is also a good idea if you have one. Money can be withdrawn in US$ and the Peruvian Currency Soles (S/.) from automatic tellers in Cusco, Pisac, and Urubamba, and almost every other town of any size in Peru. If you bring cash down to exchange at the casas de cambio make sure they are crisp new bills as older looking and torn bills are often not accepted.
In Belize, most places accept US dollars and give change in Belizean dollars with a set $2US to $1BZ exchange rate. US dollars are easily exchanged and welcome. There are also ATMs in San Ignacio and most people can access their bank accounts through these. Euros and Pounds will most likely not be accepted, so ProBelize recommends participants bring dollars.
The best way to get cash in Oaxaca is with your ATM card. You will find ATM machines throughout the City of Oaxaca, and it's easy to draw on US, Canadian or European accounts. Keep in mind that outside the city ATM's are more limited and you should withdraw money ahead of time if you are going to be traveling. We also recommend you bring a little cash down with you for contingencies. Cash in Dollars or Euros (many banks do not accept Pounds) along with travelers checks can be changed at banks or exchange houses; they generally will want to see your passport to make the exchange.
Q: What type of clothes should I bring?
A: Please, refer to the packing list provided in your congratulations package. We recommend wearing modest clothes during the time you are with us
Q: What is the food like on the programs?
A: You can expect lots of substantial and traditionally prepared meals. Peru is known for its excellent soups, protein rich grains only found in the Andes, fire roasted chicken, corn, and potatoes. Belize has a large quantity of fresh tropical fruits and nuts and excellent seafood. Oaxaca is known for having some of the best food in Mexico, including: tamales, tlayudas, chiles, seven mole sauces, cheese, grasshoppers and mezcal. Our families provide both quality food and exposure to traditional meals.
Q: Is the water safe to drink?
A: The tap water is not safe to drink on most program sites. ProWorld provides bottled water to all participants..
Q: Is their access to the internet and phones?
A: Casa ProPeru has a student phone which uses phone cards students may purchase. While the Casa has internet access this is generally reserved for staff and specific project efforts. If there are fewer volunteers, you may be able to access the computers for personal use. General internet use for volunteers can also be found at any of a number of very inexpensive internet cafes in town.
San Ignacio, Belize has a number of internet cafes that volunteers can use.
There are numerous internet cafes and international phone calling booths that are easily accessible in Oaxaca. Once on site ProMexico staff will tell students of the various options available to them for making international calls. In the past few months more internet cafes have become equipped with head sets allowing students to call using Skype.
Q: Will I need a converter for electrical devices?
A: Peru uses 220 volts, 60 cycles AC, except Arequipa, which is on 50 cycles. Plugs are of the flat, two-pronged type found in the USA. You will need an adapter for your electrical devices, it is much easier to buy one before you leave (airports are always a good place to buy them) than here in country. Some electrical devices (most Laptop Computers for example) have a voltage range. You will find this information on a metal plate on the bottom of the device or power unit. It will be marked something like this - Input: 100 - 240v. If the Peruvian voltage (220v) lies within the range, you will not need an adapter.
Belize and Mexico operate on a 120-volt system, which is the same as in the United States and Canada- the two-prong plug. In some older buildings there is no ground wire and so an adapter will need to be purchased to connect appliances that that also have a ground prong. Those coming from Europe will need to purchase adaptors in their home country. Boots is a good place to look.
Q: What is the volunteer to staff ratio?
A: There is at least one in-country ProWorld staff member for every eight volunteers.
Q: Do you hire local staff?
A: Yes. We have about 50% local staff at each of our sites. The combination of local and international staff helps to make ProWorld so successful. Our local staff have an expertise in and an understanding of culture, customs, and politics that help our projects run smoothly. Please visit the staff page to find out more.
Q: How many people have joined PW?
A: We have over 800 alumni from the United States, Canada, and Europe. Our alumni include undergraduate students, graduate students, professionals and people taking time off from school with expertise in every field imaginable. For more information please visit our alumni page.
Q: Are Visas or Passports necessary?
A: Passports are required for all of our program sites. Most, if not all, international airports will not allow you to leave your originating country with out a passport. You will also need to have proof of a return flight. Please verify that your passport is not only current but will not expire for at least six months after your program is scheduled to end. If you do not currently have a passport, please consult with the appropriate agency to obtain your government’s requirements for obtaining one. Processing time needed to obtain a passport varies but can take up to two months to receive.
Travelers from the USA, Canada, UK, and most European countries do not need a visa to enter Peru. Upon arrival in country you are issued a 30 to 90 day tourist visa. All travelers entering Peru need to carry a valid passport. If your program lasts longer than the visa provided upon entry to the country, an extension is easily obtained while in country. Visa extensions are allowed up to 3 months in Peru.
Travelers from the USA, Canada, UK, and most European countries do not need a visa to enter Belize. Upon arrival in country you are issued a 30 day tourist visa. All travelers entering Belize need to carry a valid passport. If your program lasts longer than the visa provided upon entry to the country, an extension is easily obtained while in country. Visa extensions are allowed up to 12 months in Belize.
Travelers from the USA, Canada, UK, and most European countries do not need a visa to enter Mexico. Upon arrival in country you are issued a 30 to 90 day visa. All travelers need to carry a valid passport. If your program lasts longer than the visa provided upon entry to the country, an extension is easily obtained while in country. Visa extensions can be made for up to 6 months in Mexico.
Q: What kind of vaccines or inoculations do I need to get prior to my program?
A: No specific inoculations are required to travel to Peru, Belize or Mexico. However tetanus-diphtheria and measles boosters should be current for each participant and for Peru and Belize we recommend a yellow fever vaccination. The Center for Disease Control recommends vaccinations for typhoid and Hepatitis A for Peru and Belize. We recommend that you consult a travel physician and your family physician prior to the trip.
Q: What are the political and safety situations like in Peru, Belize, and Mexico?
A: Although political situations do arise in our host communities, due to the nature of our community-based development work and our close relationships with the communities in the Sacred Valley and Cusco, Peru, San Ignacio, Belize and Oaxaca, Mexico, we have been able to avoid problems based on political situations. For additional information, please read our letters on health and safety in the library.
Q: What is the health care like?
A: The quality of medical treatment is good in Cusco, Peru, San Ignacio, Belize and Oaxaca, Mexico for most medical issues. There are hospitals in Cusco, San Ignacio, and Oaxaca that provide quality care for any major medical issues. Also, our relationship with local clinics and numerous doctors has been well developed through groups and interns that have worked with them.
Please visit the Safety and Health page to find out more.
Q: Why Pay to Volunteer?
A: ProWorld has established long-term relationships with our host communities that would be impossible to build without long-term contributions. Individual volunteers may come and go, but ProWorld maintains its presence and relationships. ProWorld provides on-site intensive orientation that you wouldn't get on your own. We provide the infrastructure to allow you to make a difference. We provide safe and caring homestay environments that would be impossible to create right after getting off a plane. Our staff is on-site to provide support for you and they know the people, communities, and countries.
Q: Where does my money go?
A: ProWorld Service Corps employs a development model which functions entirely on volunteer paid tuition(s). This gives us great flexibility in our project selection and execution, allows us to work based on community need, and eliminates third party influence. The challenge is that we have to support a multinational organization using these same funds.
"Where does my money go?" is a common and appropriate question from participants. Volunteers can clearly see their money in use in the program activities. However, some of ProWorld’s expenses are less obvious because they are indirectly related to the volunteer experience or support the organization as a whole. For example: maintenance of the website, renting office space at our program sites, and visits to investigate potential community development projects. Other costs include marketing and administration, an IT specialist, ProWorld executives, and above all, a year round staff of dedicated professionals. Plus, the majority of ProWorld volunteers join during the summer months, however ProWorld maintains year round support of projects and communities. All these elements are essential to ensure an experience of unparalleled quality.
Even with those expenses, the vast majority of volunteer funds are applied to program and field costs such as direct project contributions, a personalized myproworld website, phone calls from onsite staff to prepare volunteers, local staff members’ salaries, homestay family expenses, program materials, insurance, transportation, international communication, and recreation and excursions. These expenses total approximately 86% of volunteer program fees. The remaining 14% goes to general administrative costs in the US and UK.
ProWorld has contributed in excess of $100,000 directly to community projects and infused over $1.4M into our host communities, based on this business and development model.
Q: What if I have any other questions?
A: Don't hesitate to e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1.877.42WORLD in the US and Canada and 0.870.750.7202 in the UK and Europe.