Partner Schools - Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is affiliation?
A: Affiliation is an agreement between ProWorld and your school that allows easier financial aid and credit transfers and better recruiting efforts. Affiliation also provides benefits for your school including: exclusive scholarships and grants; ProWorld marketing support for your program; site visits; and extensive safety and liability coverage.
Q: Why should my school affiliate with ProWorld:
A: You should affiliate with ProWorld if you want your students to live and study in some of the most breathtaking natural environments in the world and experience Peru, Belize, or Mexico in ways few foreigners ever do. Learn from experience and research rather than research alone and work side by side with local community members on worthwhile development projects. Through the experience, students will have a chance to grow as individuals as their daily experiences challenge, inspire and educate them. We invite your students to join a select group of people from around the world as they work to make a difference in their lives and the lives of others.
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. 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, locations, itineraries, project selection, program costs, academics, 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. For more information please see the Custom Group Programs page.
Q: What happens when students land at the airport?
A: For our Peru programs, most flights arrive in Lima then have a connecting flight to Cusco. A program representative will meet participants at the airport in Cusco and take them 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 them and take them to a hotel and bring them back for their connecting flight if necessary for a $50 fee.
For our Belize programs, a program representative will meet participants at the airport in Belize City and take them to Cabana ProBelize in San Ignacio where they will begin orientation and the 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: Do you accept late applications?
A: Yes, we do accept late applications up to 2 weeks before the program start provided the application is submitted with full program payment. For last minute applications, Site Directors will have final say as to whether or not the desired program can be delivered at such short notice.
Q: Do participants 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. After they arrive in Peru or Mexico, participants will meet with Spanish instructors who will place them in the language program at the appropriate level. Professors will also provide English language support for their classes. However, volunteers with more Spanish language ability will understandably have an easier time in classes, more project options open to them, greater ability in their project work, and an easier time adapting.
Our group programs in Peru and Mexico are open to participants with the ability to communicate at all Spanish levels. ProWorld staff will be available to help you communicate with community members throughout your program. 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.
Q. What if participants are already fluent in Spanish and want to go to Peru or Mexico?
A: In Mexico, fluent Spanish speakers have been given the option to instead study Zapotec or to take local classes in cooking, art, dancing, etc. In Peru, the situation is evaluated on a case by case basis.
Q: Who instructs the semester courses and what are the contact hours?
A: The Semester in Peru courses are instructed by Centro Bartolome de las Casas professors approved by Jacksonville University. Students will receive 16 credits for the program with a total of 224 class hours. The actual contact hours between professors and students exceeds the classroom hours, as the professors are available for outside help and consultation.
The Semester in Belize courses are instructed by professors accredited by the University of Belize. Students will receive 15 credits for the program with a total of 210 class hours. The actual contact hours between the professors and students exceeds the classroom hours, as volunteers and professors also work together on volunteer projects such as constructing schools, clinics, and drinking water systems. Please see the course descriptions for more information.
The Semester in Mexico courses are instructed by professors accredited by Western Washington University in conjunction with the Southwest Center for International Studies. Students will receive 16 credits for the program with a total of 256 class hours. The actual contact hours between the professors and students in Oaxaca greatly exceeds the classroom hours, as the students and professors also work together on volunteer projects such as painting schools, helping out on health campaigns and working on small construction projects. Please see the course descriptions for more information.
Q: Who awards the credit and grades for the semester programs?
A: Jacksonville University awards credit to ProPeru Semester students who have successfully completed the classes according to the grades and recommendations of the participating professors and JU guidelines. JU provides official transcripts to each student and the home institution of each student. Classes are graded on 4.0 scale.
University of Belize in conjunction with COBEC (Consortium for Belize Educational Cooperation), a consortium of 17 US schools, awards credit to ProBelize Semester students who have successfully completed the classes according to the grades and recommendations of the participating professors and UB guidelines. UB provides official transcripts to each student and their home institution.
Western Washington University in conjunction with the Southwest Center for International Studies awards credit to ProMexico Semester students who have successfully completed the classes according to the grades and recommendations of the participating professors and WWU guidelines. WWU provides official transcripts to each student and their home institution.
Q: Can students get credits for their Internships?
A: ProWorld has an agreement with Seattle Central Community College to offer credits for our internships. You can also arrange credit for your students. If you approve internship credits, we will be happy to work with the students to ensure that they meet the requirements. For more information, please visit the Credits page.
Q: How are internship projects selected?
A: Within the application, there is a list of several areas to help students prioritize their project preferences. We suggest choosing an area in which the student has interests, experience, and/or training. Additionally, students are invited to be creative and suggest a project. In-country directors will contact students at least 1 month before the program start to discuss the specifics of students’ skills and their project. Students will be placed based on the needs of the community, the in-country director’s assessment of their skills, and how they will most successfully contribute to the community.
Q: What kind of project and program support will Internship participants have?
A: We pride ourselves on our commitment to high levels of project support for both the participant and the community. Depending on which project and program they select students will have between 1 - 5 projects meetings per week with the ProWorld staff member assigned to their project. Participants are given as much or as little project support as they desire. While some participants enjoy high levels of project involvement by ProWorld staff, other participants prefer to be more independent during their project.
Q: What does ProWorld do about culture shock?
A: Participants may face culture shock when they start the program and when they return home after the program. To prepare for culture shock before the program, ProWorld provides a reading list to help participants learn everything they can about the country they are traveling to. We also recommend participants go with an open mind and understand that things will be different, but that is part of the experience. ProWorld will provide participants with a Re-entry package to help them readjust to life at home after the program. We also recommend they reach out to their group when they are back at home, they have been through similar experiences and can be a support to each other.
Q: What are the Spanish classes like in Peru and Mexico for the Internships?
A: The Spanish instructors are chosen based on their experience and effectiveness with ProWorld students. Spanish classes are structured for small group classes (no more than 5) four days a week. The Spanish classes are tailored to each individual participant. Students will work with one Spanish instructor who will determine the most appropriate level and intensity of classes.
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 students will be living?
A: Our ProPeru programs are based in the town of Urubamba and the city of Cusco. 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 green valley with a large winding river passing by and surrounded by snow capped Andean peaks. Cusco is a large city of over 400,000 people that has a beautiful and historic town center.
The ProBelize semester program is 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.
Our ProMexico program is 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.
For more information please visit the About ProWorld Where Can You Go page.
Q: What is the weather like?
A: The climate in Cusco and the Sacred Valley, Peru is generally mild and dry. 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: Can I visit the sites?
A: Yes, we recommend site visits to get a feel for the programs, projects, academic facilities, homestay families, cultural and adventure excursions, and local communities. We share costs with affiliate schools to bring administrators and faculty down for site visits throughout the year. We are planning site visits for this summer, click here for more information.
Q: How are host families chosen?
A: The host families are selected based on past experiences, safety, cleanliness, friendliness and the quality of experience they can provide our participants. We have a wonderful community of host families at each of our sites. Being a ProWorld host family is a highly sought after position as it invites families into a network of quality people and provides an extra source of income.
Q: Can participants communicate with their host families before they begin the program?
A: Participants can call their host family or write a letter if they desire. Decisions for home stays are made for each participant 2 - 4 weeks before their program starts. Details about host families will be made available at participants’ personal myProWorld websites.
Q: What are the living arrangements like for group programs?
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 as well.
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 continues to support the project with labor, 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: Are weekend trips and activities included in the program fee?
A: The weekend activities are included in the program fees for all programs except field internships and provide added cultural immersion. Admission to ruins and costs for adventure and cultural activities, transportation, food and lodging are provided on these adventures. Participants are responsible for out-of pocket expenses such as buying gifts, going out to restaurants with friends, phone calls home, personal items, and non-ProWorld trips. The costs for these extra items vary for each student and range from $10 - $100 per week. There are also free weekends for students to travel and explore on their own.
Q: How much spending money do participants need to bring?
A: All aspects of the program are covered by ProWorld. The amount of spending money participants will need beyond the program is largely determined by their spending habits. If they are going to buy lots of gifts and go out on the weekends, we recommend $5 - $20/day. If they plan on spending more time with their host family and new local friends, we recommend $5-$10/day. In addition to the daily spending money, ProWorld recommends bringing $100 - $200 as a back up and to cover things like airport taxes ($20 - $40), non-ProWorld trips and other incidental expenses.
Q: How should participants bring money?
A: ProPeru recommends that participants bring at least two sources of money. Travelers checks and cash (in US$) can be easily changed almost anywhere in Peru, including Urubamba and Cusco. A credit card is also a good idea if available. Money can be withdrawn in US$ and the Peruvian Currency Soles (S/.) from automatic tellers in Cusco, Pisac, and Urubamba, and almost every other larger town in Peru. If participants bring cash down to exchange at the casas de cambio they should make sure they are crisp new bills as older looking and torn bills are often not accepted.
In Belize, most stores and restaurants accept US dollars and give change in Belizean dollars with a set $2US to $1BZ. 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 at all, so ProBelize recommends participants bring dollars
The best way to get cash in Oaxaca is with an ATM card. There are ATM machines throughout the City of Oaxaca, and it’s easy to draw on US, Canadian or European accounts. Outside the city, ATM’s are more limited and participants should withdraw money ahead of time if they are going to be traveling. We also recommend participants bring a little cash as well 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 a passport to make the exchange.
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 and homestay families provide bottled or boiled water.
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 reserved for staff, but Centro Bartolome de las Casas has 3 to 4 hour access to computers, internet, and printers 5 days a week for semester students. General internet use for students may 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: 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 (Peru). 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 (Belize). 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 are the political and safety situation 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.
Q: What safety procedures does ProWorld have?
A: ProWorld places the highest priority on ensuring a safe and stable environment for all volunteers. Thorough health and safety preparations precede each program, beginning with extensive pre-departure materials, a carefully designed on-site orientation, and followed by regular staff and volunteer check-ins. Throughout each program, ProWorld relies on many resources to assess and respond to the specific health and safety needs of each volunteer including: on-site Program Directors, in-country staff, and cooperating institutions; local health care professionals and facilities; health background and needs of individual volunteers; US, UK, Peruvian, Belizean, and Mexican government advisories; and the Centers for Disease Control. All Program Directors carry cell phones and communicate regularly with onsite volunteers, staff members, and the ProWorld headquarters. An emergency phone line is available 24 hours a day for volunteers and families. All ProWorld volunteers receive health and travel insurance, providing additional protection and security.
Q: What is the health care like on site?
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: What is the cost and what is included in the programs?
A: For complete costs and what is included please visit our Costs and What's Included pages.
Q: What is ProWorld’s Refund Policy?
A: The program deposit of $200 / £125 will be applied towards the total program fee. The program deposit is non-refundable for Participants who have been accepted into the program. The program deposit will be fully refunded to non-successful Participants. If the Participant cancels for any reason, the Participant must notify ProWorld in writing. The cancellation will be effective upon receipt of the writing by ProWorld at its US or UK office. Careful planning goes into developing study abroad and volunteer programs. As a result, the ProWorld incurs substantial administrative and planning costs prior to the start of each program. Participants who cancel more than 2 weeks prior to the program start will receive a refund on the program fee paid, less the deposit. Individuals who cancel or shorten their program less than 2 weeks prior to the program start or during the program will not receive a refund.
Q: Where do the program fees 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.