Peru's breathtaking landscapes, mysterious ancient cultures, and present day cultural diversity capture the imaginations of visitors from all corners of the globe. The country stretches from the equator in the extreme north to the rugged deserts in the south where Peru borders Bolivia and Chile. The Andes run through Peru north to south, dividing the country into three distinct geographical regions and hundreds of micro-climates. Humans have inhabited Peru for thousands of years, and the country has been home to some of the most advanced civilizations in the world. Present day Peruvian culture is shaped by the rich heritage of the ancient civilizations in combination with recent influences from Europe and East Asia. Peru's recent history has been shaped by dictatorships, political upheaval, and economic hardships. Despite daily struggles, Peruvians tend to be optimistic and warm. Family and friends are highly valued, and small gatherings tend to quickly turn into lively impromptu parties.
ELI's programs are based in Lima, the Spanish capital on the Pacific Ocean, and in Cusco, the Incan capital high in the Andes. Volunteers in Lima will experience the excitement of living and working in one of the largest cities in South America. From the colonial streets of downtown to the chic high-rises of Miraflores, Lima has adventures for almost everyone. Volunteers have the opportunity to learn firsthand about day to day life in Lima through working with organizations devoted to serving street children, domestic workers, and migrant workers.
Cusco is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the Americas, and is a premier destination for world travelers. Bits of conversations in languages from all over the world echo through the narrow streets built by the Inca over 1000 years ago. Volunteers have the opportunity to experience Cusqueño life on a deeper level than most travelers through living with a local family and working with local organizations devoted to education, child welfare, and community development.