Amigos de las Americas - Ecuador Gap Year

Video and Photos

Hiking in Ecuador
Hiking in Ecuador
Hiking
Hiking
Participants in Cuenca
Participants in Cuenca
Alpacas
Alpacas
Market in Cuenca
Market in Cuenca
2017-18 Participants
2017-18 Participants
Traveling in Ecuador
Traveling in Ecuador
Outside Cuenca
Outside Cuenca

About

Spend your first month in intensive Spanish classes, including outings around the city to put your new language skills into practice. You’ll work at an internship with a local partner agency and develop professional skills. Ecuador is one of the most geographically and culturally diverse countries in the world. Rich in history and architecture, Cuenca is surrounded by breathtaking scenic mountain views. Its historic city center is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Trust site.

Environmental Sustainability & Biodiversity, Education & Youth Development, Social Impact, Arts & Cultural Preservation.

Highlights
  • Internship with a local partner organization
  • Group excursions around the country
  • Leadership and career training
  • Live like a local with a host family
  • Improve your Spanish through authentic cultural immersion

Questions & Answers

Reviews

93%
based on 3 reviews
  • Housing 10
  • Support 9.3
  • Fun 9.3
  • Value 9.3
  • Safety 9.3
Showing 1 - 3 of 3
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Gillian
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Greatt Gap Program

I participated in the Cuenca Gap semester from January-June 2019, and it was truly an amazing and transformative experience. I think the Amigos program did a great job of helping participants settle into their lives in Cuenca, by spending the first week in a hostel with fellow participants while getting used to the city, and then by spending the first month in intensive Spanish classes to prepare participants for their placements. My host family was incredibly loving and supportive, and I really felt like I became a part of their family and vice versa. I felt supported by Amigos staff in Cuenca, but not in an overly-stifling way. Every 2 weeks, we had check-ins with supervisors, just to make sure everything was going well, but they were always available if we needed them for anything. We also went on trips to different parts of Ecuador every month, including to the beach and to other cities, which was really amazing as well. All in all, I loved my time with Amigos and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a gap program that provides structure but is not overbearing. I think my favorite part was that supervisors really treated us like adults, and we were pretty much living independent lives in Cuenca while knowing that there was support available if we needed it.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
The one part of the Amigos program that I wasn't overly crazy about was coming in in the spring semester. I loved that there was the option to only go for a semester, but at the same time, it was weird coming in halfway through other people's program, when they had already formed bonds and were well-established in the city. I don't know that the year-long program would have been right for me, but I think knowing what I know now, I would switch my semesters and participate in the fall instead of the spring.
Default avatar
Maggie
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Spring Gap Experience

My gap semester with Amigos was an incredible and formative experience. I think about Cuenca, my dear host family, and the lessons I learned there almost daily. Amigos did an excellent job finding a loving host family for me—they were wonderful and I hope to visit them someday. Although I did not imagine myself with the internship I had (I volunteered at a preschool in the city center), I now realize it taught powerful lessons in patience and self-advocacy. I also came to understand the great privilege it was to have any sort of job in a Latin American city. Most of my coworkers had been through extensive schooling and were in charge of these giant groups of kids day after day for years. I could get up and leave whenever I wanted!

The language classes were very thorough and streamlined (they don’t waste time teaching vocabulary or grammar tenses you will never need to know). The highly structured format of the language school field trips and monthly Amigos excursions are perfect for someone who has never traveled solo in a different language before. As someone who had previously done this, there were times when I felt we were being babysat. However, I came to appreciate the safety, included transportation, and insider access we had as a group.

I took advantage of the independent travel opportunities we had during the semester—and these trips were some of the highlights of my time in the country. It was during these smaller group trips that I really learned about myself and how I function in groups. All the while, we had the insured support of our supervisors who were just a few hours away (another thing I took for granted but now appreciate, looking back on all of the things that could have gone wrong).

The supervisors I had were great people with a plethora of knowledge and well-seasoned opinions of Cuenca. Though I did not require as much support as some of the other participants, I am again glad they had my back just in case.

Overall I recommend this program to open-minded, inexperienced travelers. While young adults from all walks of life can benefit from some way in this program, the open-minded, inexperienced travelers in my cohort enjoyed the program the most.

You’ll gain language skills, intercultural competency, and friends from all over the world (Ecuador, the US, and Europe!) Best of luck!

What was your funniest moment?
I lived with a family of five: two parents, three kids. The youngest of the kids (five years old) was the goofiest and chubbiest boy I have ever met. There were too many funny “Gabo moments” to just pick one. Some of my favorite include him barging into my room to read me stories early in the morning and watching action movies like Jurassic Park together.
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Finley
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Challenging, but worth it!

My time in Cuenca was extremely difficult especially the first two months but it challenged me to grow in every aspect of my life! It gave me professional work experience, improved my Spanish, and allowed me to create friendships with Ecuadorians and participants. I appreciated that every participant got their own room in the host family home. It was a great mix of integration with a host family while respecting that participants need space. We were able to go on excursions to the Amazon, too! It was hard to get used to a new environment and family, but with time you really get to know everyone.

What would you improve about this program?
They have a 4 month and 8 month option. I did the 4 month option, but I felt like the first 4 months were still me getting adjusted to living in a new country. Those that stayed for longer definitely got more out of it since they were able to enjoy the second half with more of a sense of what was going on.
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