Why did you decide to volunteer abroad with Lead Adventures in Ecuador?
Alexandria: I had just graduated college and for years had told myself I would travel before I did anything else. Teaching English, while not a part of my degree, was the best way to live in another country without breaking the bank. Lead Adventures was a smaller program based in Ecuador and I liked that I would be working with children from a poorer area.
Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.
Alexandria: In the morning I would be picked up and taken to the school, along with the other volunteers. We would start at 8 am and teach until 12 pm. One of the girls and I would teach the older kids and two of the others would teach the younger kids. We would spend about 40 minutes per class, six in all. You can teach anything you want and play games and music to help the kids learn. Just getting them excited about English was the important part. After that we would catch a ride to the Port for lunch. The afternoons and weekends were free to travel and spend time with my host family and friends.
What made this volunteer abroad experience unique and special?
Alexandria: For me this was my first opportunity to live in a foreign country- Meeting other people in the program who had the same passion to travel as me was a great way to make new friends. Also, living with a host family (while tricky at times!) was a learning and growing experience in how to understand a new culture and another family's way of life. Finally, the children at the school were full of life and loved being around the volunteers during recess. You really develop a connection with the kids and start to understand their lives.
How has this experience impacted your future?
Alexandria: Making the decision to volunteer in another country was one of the best decisions I have ever made as it taught me a lot about myself, made me a stronger person, and opened up many more doors to continue traveling. The connections I made in Ecuador have allowed me to return for more time with a paid job through another company and a volunteer position with the food bank. I was invited back to live with my wonderful host family as well! Most importantly, seeing the health practices of another country strengthened my passion for public health and has helped solidify my future plans of graduate school in the field.