Get to know this great organization
Volunteering is a great way to become involved with the CTTC and to get to know the weavers and their work. The CTTC is always looking for hardworking volunteers to join the Chullo Club and help out with different events and projects.
The CTTC accepts a small number of volunteers each year to be part of the Chullo Club and help with various projects and programs currently in progress. Most volunteers are given work inside of the set plans the CTTC has for the year, which can include anything from help with event preparation to specific projects that the volunteer completes semi-independently.
The CTTC requires that volunteers commit to a minimum of three months as anything less is insufficient time for volunteers to make a meaningful impact on the organization. While the CTTC does not require that volunteers speak Spanish, the Center prefers volunteers that can as it means they can become involved at a deeper level in the CTTC.
While most volunteers spend a majority of their time working in the offices on administrative tasks, there are occasional opportunities to visit the communities and work with the weavers. Volunteering with the Chullo Club can provide a once in a life-time opportunity to meet indigenous Andean weavers and learn from them about their lives, traditions, and textiles.
Chullo are the traditional knitted hats that men and women knit in different communities in the Andes. The CTTC jokingly began calling the volunteer program the Chullo Club after a group of volunteers began wearing their chullo in to volunteer each day. Today each volunteer receives a chullo at the end of their volunteer period as a thank-you gift for their work and as official induction into the club.
• Helping with preparations for Education Department events such as the Young Weavers Gatherings
• Organizing the photo archive and the permanent collection of textiles
• Ceating an online database of the permanent collection of textiles
• Conservation work on the permanent collection of textiles
• Writing publications, such as pamphlets and the bi-yearly newsletter, in Spanish and English
• Creating a catalogue of the CTTC’s products
• Designing a new website for the CTTC
• Critically assessing, designing, and implementing a new store layout
• Organizing fundraisers to allow the Young Weavers to travel to Cusco to visit local museums
• Creating new videos for the CTTC
1. Who makes a good volunteer?
The CTTC looks for volunteers with a positive attitude who can take the initiative to think for themselves and work on tasks semi-independently. If you are a hard worker who is willing to jump into any task, no matter how small, with enthusiasm and an eye for details, you would make an excellent CTTC volunteer. Volunteers should be flexible to sudden and unpredictable changes in plans, and be understanding and accepting of cultural differences.
2. Does the CTTC Volunteer Program involve any fees or donations as a requisite of participation?
No, the CTTC Volunteer program does not include fees. Many volunteer programs require that volunteers pay to participate. This is often because these programs provide accommodations, meals, transportation, and other services. The CTTC does not provide these services. Volunteers are expected to find their own housing, pay for their own transportation, etc.
3. I want to volunteer, but I can’t commit to the minimum of three months. What should I do?
If you cannot commit to the required minimum of three months but still want to become involved in the CTTC, we suggest that you consider making a donation or organizing a fundraiser in your home community to help support the Center’s work. Stay in touch with the CTTC by signing up for our newsletter, or better yet, take a trip to Cusco to visit us personally. If you cannot come for three months to volunteer, coming for a short time to visit and learn about Andean textiles is an important way to help spread our message globally about the importance of textile traditions. While you are in Cusco, consider taking weaving classes and visiting Chinchero to see a weaving and dyeing demonstration.
4. Do I need to speak Spanish to volunteer at the CTTC?
No, you do not need to speak Spanish to volunteer with the CTTC, however, the Center prefers volunteers who do speak Spanish.
5. How much does an airplane flight cost to Cusco, Peru?
A typical round-trip flight from the U.S. to Cusco, Peru costs around $1,000. We encourage you to look ahead of time on sites like Expedia.com or Kayak.com for less expensive alternatives. Occasionally, depending on where you are flying out from, you can find round-trip tickets as low as $700.
Ticket Tricks: Sometimes it is less expensive to buy one-way tickets rather than a round-trip ticket. Another trick is to buy a ticket first to Lima and buy separately a ticket from Lima to Cusco rather than a ticket from your home straight to Cusco. StarPeru and Peruvian Airlines are some of the cheaper airlines that run flights between Lima and Cusco but many online ticketing agencies use Lan for Lima to Cusco which can be $50 – $100 more expensive than StarPeru or Peruvian Airlines.
6. If I come as a volunteer, where can I find somewhere to live in Cusco?
Depending on the length of your stay, there are many different options for housing in Cusco. The historic center where the CTTC is located is full of hostels and hotels that range in prices from very reasonable ($7.00 a night) to luxurious ($500 a night). Many hostels are used to receiving guests that stay for upwards of three months and are willing to bargain down the price for someone who plans on staying for a long time. Hostels in Cusco are a great way to meet other international visitors from around the world.
If you are looking to meet and mingle with local Peruvians, a home-stay is a great option. Please indicate in the volunteer form if you would like for the CTTC to arrange a homestay option for you with one of the weavers from Chinchero, a community located 45 minutes from the city of Cusco where the CTTC offices are located. Transportation between Chinchero and Cusco is not an issue. Buses and vans frequently depart from a garage a short walk from our offices and there are CTTC employees who live in Chinchero and make the commute each day who can help you.
There are also many small apartments available for rent in the historic district. The options vary widely, from a private bedroom and shared kitchen and bath, to fully furnished bachelor flats. Rent typically ranges from S/.300 ($100) to S/.1,500 ($500) a month. If you plan on taking an apartment, you can try to look ahead of time online, but most apartments are made public through word of mouth, flyers, or in local newspapers. Plan on taking a room at a hostel or hotel for about a week and wandering around the San Blas district looking for postings and check the local newspapers. Personnel from the CTTC will also be more than willing to help by asking around amongst their friends and family.
7. What are food options like in Cusco?
In comparison to the U.S., food is inexpensive in Cusco to the point where you could go out to eat every day and still save money in comparison to cooking for yourself in the U.S. A typical menú (a fixed soup, a fixed main entry course, and a cup of tea) ranges between S/.5 – S/.10 ($2 – $3.40) and is normally enough food. If you want to cook for yourself there are many markets in and near the historic district including Mercado San Blas, Mercado San Pedro, Mercado Cascaparo, Mercado Rosaspata, and Mercado Wanchaq.
If you have special dietary needs or are vegetarian, there are a few restaurants in the historic district that include vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options including Green Point and el Encuentro. Supermarkets generally offer soy products, including soy milk, soy yogurt and soy meat. Almond milk is not available in Cusco. Peanut butter is available, although comparatively expensive.
8. What is local transportation like in Cusco?
Cusco is a small city and everything in the historic center is easily assessable by foot. There are many charming, pedestrian-only cobblestone streets that connect the major attractions. Taxis typically charge S/4.00 ($1.25) for most destinations within city limits. City buses, called combis, cost S/.1.00 ($0.35) and run from around 5 am to around 9 pm. Combis are not an officially organized city busing system, they are a collection of private bus lines run by a variety of private companies. As such, there is no published map of bus routes. Ask around about which bus lines go where and take notice of the buses you see as you walk around the city to get an idea of their general routes.
When using combis be very careful of petty theft. Always keep valuables in an inside pocket of your coat or in a bag you can secure under your clothes and next to your body.
Besides city buses, there are also inter-town buses for travel outside of Cusco. Inter-town buses cost around S/3.50 ($1.00)- S/.10 ($3.30) depending on the destination and run from around 5 am to around 9 pm.
9. What is there to do and see in Cusco? Why would I spend three or more months in Peru?
Cusco is called the Archeological Capital of South America with good reason. As the capital of the Incan Empire, it’s impossible to take a step without stubbing your toe on a ruin both inside and outside the city. Colonial Spanish architecture built on top of Incan foundations composes the majority of buildings in the historic district and around almost every turn is a stunning view of the Andes Mountains.
If you’re not a history buff, Cusco is brimming with living culture as well. Many Incan ceremonies are still performed, albeit with a modern twist, and almost every other week presents a saint’s day, heralded in with fire crackers that ring off the mountains and loud parades that take the streets by storm. For the past three years Peru won the World’s Leading Culinary Destination award and there are numerous opportunities for trekking, rafting, horseback riding, rock climbing and camping for the adventuresome.
Cusco is also home to a number of art and archeology museums and a vast array of non-profits. For those looking to travel before or after their time as a volunteer, overnight buses easily take you to other archeological and natural wonders at Lake Titicaca, Arequipa, and the Nazca Lines. Of course, Machu Picchu is always just a bus ride or train ride away and is a must for any visitor.
10. I want to improve my Spanish, are there places where I can take classes?
Yes, there are a number of Spanish schools in the historic district, including the San Blas Spanish School, the Amauta Spanish School and Máximo Nivel. You can either sign up for classes online before arriving in Cusco or visit the school(s) after arriving in Cusco and make a decision about the best option for you.
11. I want to learn Quechua, are there places that offer classes?
Yes, there are a few schools dedicated to Quechua such as the Quechua Language School (Wiracocha), Proyecto Peru, and Centro Tinku. They function similarly to the Spanish schools and you may find that some Spanish schools also offer Quechua classes. Working at the CTTC will give you the opportunity to practice your Quechua with the weavers. They love it when you make an effort to speak their language!