Service Learning & Language Immersion in Cusco, Peru

This new study abroad summer program has been organized through a collaboration of the Center for Civic Engagement, the Master of Public Administration Department in the College of Community and Public Affairs, and the Office of International Programs. It will combine a course at Binghamton University with 4 weeks of on- site language immersion and service-learning in Peru.

Located amid the Peruvian Andes, Cusco is a city with a population of about 350,000. The history of this region that was founded as the capital city of the Incans and later conquered by the Spanish in the 16th century has led to a modern day urban center that showcases a mix of great Incan and Spanish culture, with Incan temples juxtaposing Baroque cathedrals in the city center. For this reason, Cusco is often referred to as the "archaeological capital of the Americas." These historical sites within Cusco like the Plaza de Armas, the Cusco Cathedral, and the Temple of the Sun attract visitors from all over the world. Students will have the opportunity to visit these sites on an organized city tour within Cusco.

A large percentage of the indigenous Incan population lives outside of the city in the mountainous areas surrounding Cusco, where farming and textile crafting are the main ways of making a living. Students will have the chance to take a tour to visit the famous Pisac artisan market as well as several Incan temples in this region and travel into the Sacred Valley. Students may also choose to extend their stay to take a trip to Macchu Piccu, however this is at an extra, separate cost to the student. These mountainous areas surrounding Cusco face particular challenges, including: a lack of potable water, lack of access to education and health services, unemployment, and high rates of alcoholism and domestic violence. Students will have the opportunity to complete service learning projects in these areas in order to learn about and assist with these challenges.


The 6 credit academic course component of the program will be a summer class, for which you are registered in the summer term; however your coursework will begin towards the end of the spring semester to allow for sufficient preparation before the trip. The class will meet in person three times on the dates listed below (for a total of 15 contact hours).

Students will be required to complete readings and individual assignments (estimated at 15-20 hours of work)

Class meeting dates for 2015 will be announced in the spring.

On-Site in Peru
The program trip to Peru is expected to take place during the month of June. Exact dates and flight itinerary will be determined in April.The four weeks in Peru will include intensive language instruction and service learning projects at various sites of non profit organizations.

For very useful on-site tips for program participants, please download the program handbook.

Students will be required to participate in online debriefing and reflection exercises and prepare a final paper linking the readings and course concepts to the experience in Peru. 

Last Updated: 9/7/14