Challenging Yet Amazing Experience

Ratings
Overall
7
Impact: 7
Support: 9
Fun: 9
Value: 9
Safety: 10
Review

I was on the Ecuador: La Costa 3 week project, and I had quite the experience. I really loved staying at Rio Muchacho, an eco-lodge, and learning about the city of Bahía de Caraquez more each time we visited it. I also loved boating out to beautiful, nature-rich islands, and spending time at the beach. One of my favorite parts was the service day, where we drove to a rural community called Sitio Nuevo that was leading an environmental/community based service initiative. AMIGOS worked with local volunteer groups to plant trees by the river, paint a school house, plant a garden, and help out with some other community things. Talking to the children of the community was a fun and heartwarming experience I'll never forget. I wished we could have done even more service work, and that we could have interacted more with local families, but this year was weird because of the COVID pandemic, which limited our contact with people (ex. we stayed as a group and not in homestays). Unfortunately, some of us volunteers ran into issues with mental health and with the project staff. Personally, I found the program to be too challenging in terms of how much sleep we were getting and how many activities were packed into the day. I felt tired and overwhelmed by the second week, and I started to take it easier after that. There were some conduct issues among some other volunteers that escalated into 5 volunteers being sent home 3 days early, which was stressful for the whole group. However, I think that we had a great group and great project staff, and what went down was pretty unlucky. I felt that the project staff were very supportive of me, and I really appreciated their help and empathy. By the end of the 3 weeks, I was very ready to go home, because I was stressed and burnt out, but I was simultaneously sad to leave the beautiful places we visited and leave the wonderful friends I made in the group. I'd say overall, I'm glad I went despite the challenges.

Would you recommend this program?
Yes, I would
Year Completed
2021