I will never forget my experience in Ecuador. It was the best summer of my life. My host family was absolutely amazing and caring. Plus, the community opened up their homes and hearts for us. I worked daily with the children of the community and it was great to see the impact we had on them when we played and learned. We also painted murals, which was another way to bring the community together since the kids and youth painted it while the adults watched and now can enjoy the work they did. We also planted trees with the kids and worked in the field with different families to help them with their daily field tasks like harvesting potatoes, cutting the grass and weeds, and planting new plants.
Amigos de las Americas is one of the best organizations I have come to know. It is hard to find another program that is as supportive and helpful. The staff was always attentive and responsive in any situation. When I got sick at night, I was at the clinic by the morning to make sure everything was okay, and I was! They make sure you are always safe both physically and mentally, but they also make sure you are having a fun and productive summer. If I was having an sort of issue or confusion with my partners, community, or projects, I could always count on my staff to help clear things up and make me feel better.
The greatest part about my experience was feeling like I actually made an impact on the community and now I have a new family in Ecuador. I have a new found love for cultures, spanish, and traveling as well. The cost of the program is definitely reasonable as everything is taken care of for the whole summer. You don't have to worry about buying food, paying for your travel if you need to go to the clinic, your clinic costs are covered and the only thing that you might want to bring your own money for is souvenirs, but that is optional!
Another great thing about Amigos is that all of the host families aren't compensated for housing volunteers, so if anyone signs up, they are truly interested in getting to know the volunteers and helping them through the process of getting projects going and then implementing them.
I made some really great friends in the community along with getting to know my host family. It was fun to hang out with the local youth because they generally are helpful, and will show you a good time. They actually taught me how to dance, plus we played soccer together and laughed a lot!
The day I had to leave, I couldn't stop crying. I didn't want to leave and couldn't wait until I had the chance to go back, regardless of how many potatoes I had to eat (potatoes are big staple in ecuador, along with guinea pig!!). I learned about ecuadorian culture, I learned about my family, my community, and myself. I would recommend this program to anyone who is willing to step outside of their comfort zone and that would love to make an impact on a community while having the best summer of their life.
I went to Ecuador to make an impact on a community in Ecuador, and while I did that, they left a huge impact on me.