Location
  • Ecuador
    • Cuenca
Length
4 - 26 weeks
Program Tags
Conservation Cultural Immersion Hands-On Learning Language Immersion Post-High School Social Justice Volunteer Abroad

Program Details

Activities
City Exploring Hiking Sightseeing
Timeframe
Fall Spring
Housing
Guesthouse Host Family Hostel Lodge
Primary Language
Spanish
Age Min.
17
Age Max
23

Pricing

What's Included
Accommodation Activities Meals Park Fees Transportation Travel Insurance Visa
Sep 23, 2021
Feb 09, 2020
1 traveler is looking at this program

About Program

Explore the Andean highlands with AMIGOS!

Spring 2022 in Azuay, Ecuador: Dive deep into food security and justice in rural indigenous farming communities. Discover how Ecuadorian agriculture is based on ancestral cultures, specifically regarding the importance of superfoods and indigenous medicine. Meet local leaders, food producers, and youth making an impact on food systems in the region.

Fall 2022 / Spring 2023 in Cuenca, Ecuador: Spend a semester in the scenic Andean city of Cuenca! Study Spanish and complete an internship with a local organization in this amazing setting steeped in rich history and culture. Live with a host family to get the full immersive experience of living abroad.

Video and Photos

Program Highlights

  • Speak Spanish, take Spanish classes, and maybe even pick up some Kichwa!
  • Volunteer with local partner organizations like indigenous-owned community tourism projects or sustainable farms
  • Travel across the country and visit places like Cajas National Park, the Pacific Coast, and Andean peaks
  • Immerse yourself in Ecuadorian culture
  • Leadership training and mentorship

Popular Programs

Volunteers hiking in the mountains near Cuenca

Explore the highlands around Cuenca, Ecuador, and dive deep into food security and justice in rural indigenous farming communities. Discover how Ecuadorian agriculture is based on ancestral cultures, specifically regarding the importance of superfoods and indigenous medicine. Meet local leaders, food producers, and youth making an impact on food systems in the region.

Two spots on this program are reserved for students from Ecuador. You'll live with 15-20 students during this program.

AMIGOS volunteers on a rooftop

Live with a host family and intern with a local organization! Immerse yourself in the rich, Andean culture and city life in Cuenca. Focus on environmental sustainability, education and youth development, social impact, or arts and cultural preservation. Explore the region and go on group excursions to places like the Amazon, a visit to an indigenous community, the Pacific coast, national parks, and the highlands near Cuenca.

Program Reviews

9.33 Rating
based on 3 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 66.67%
  • 7-8 rating 33.33%
  • 5-6 rating 0%
  • 3-4 rating 0%
  • 1-2 rating 0%
  • Housing 10
  • Support 9.3
  • Fun 9.3
  • Value 9.3
  • Safety 9.3
Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews
Default avatar
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.
13 people found this review helpful.
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.
13 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
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.
12 people found this review helpful.
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