Study Abroad - Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why should I join ProWorld?
A: 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 an elite group of volunteers from around the world; make a difference.
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: What happens when I 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 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: Do we have to arrive on a particular day of the week in order to be picked up by ProWorld representatives?
A: Arriving and departing within the dates listed on your travel form is highly recommended. If you do arrive or depart outside of the dates listed on your travel form you are responsible for your own travel arrangements and accommodations until the program begins and after it ends. ProWorld does not discourage late departure and staff will be happy to provide you with information on independent travel if you plan to stay in the country beyond your program, but you are responsible for all costs
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 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. 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. 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.
Belize is an English speaking country, so you do not need to have any Spanish language abilities
Q. What if I am already fluent in Spanish and I 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. You 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. You 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. You 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.
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: 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: The ProPeru semester program is based in Cusco. Cusco is a large city of over 400,000 people that has a beautiful and historic town center. It is the starting point for many tourist travels including to Machu Picchu and so has an international feel while preserving its Incan past.
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.
The ProMexico program is based in Oaxaca, a World Heritage Site. 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 average 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: 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 you tell me about my host family? Will I have roommates?
A: You will meet your host family within the first few days of your arrival. Depending on how many volunteers are on the program at any given time you may have zero to two housemates. You will always have your own room.
Q: Can I communicate with my host family before I begin my 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 your host family will be made available at your personal ProWorld website.
Q: Should I bring a gift for my host family?
A: That is up to you. Most participants want to bring a small gift for their homestay family, but are unsure of what to get. The truth is that your family will love and treasure whatever you bring. The best advice is to bring something that is unique or special to your part of the world (some examples might be a book of photos of your town/area, a t-shirt from a local landmark, or local handicrafts) as this type of gift can act as a conversation starter and ice-breaker with your new family. Kids are kids the world over, and if your family has children (you will be sent details of your homestay family before you arrive) they will love any sort of toy or game.
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: 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. You 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 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. 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 most larger towns 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 stores and restaurants accept US dollars and give change in Belizean dollars with a set $2US to $1BZ exchange. 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. Most of the development projects involve hands-on work and we recommend bringing suitable clothes.
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 and homestay families provide bottled or boiled water.
Q: Is there 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: 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 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 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 (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 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 booster 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.