EcuaExperience: Pre-Medical and Volunteer Programs

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About

Help, Learn and Discover is a student-driven volunteer organization that offers four week Pre-medical and Volunteer programs in Ecuador. These programs provide students with three main opportunities: to Help those less fortunate, to Learn first-hand knowledge about the medical field, and to Discover the amazing diversity of Ecuador. In the Help component, students use fundraised money to participate in a specific large-scale volunteer project. For example, in 2012 we built 21 homes for underprivileged families in a rural community called Pallatanga.

Students work alongside local families and are able to see the homes develop while integrating themselves into the community. In the optional Learn component, students shadow leading doctors and health professionals through eight different wards in a hospital setting.

We conclude the program with the Discover component, where students embark on an 11-day tour through the jungles, rainforests, highlands and beaches of Ecuador.

Questions & Answers

Most of our students are 18+. However, we have had students under 18 that need their parents to co-sign their contract.

Reviews

97%
based on 226 reviews
  • Impact 9.7
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9.1
  • Value 9.7
  • Safety 9.7
Showing 151 - 165 of 226
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Kevin
10/10

Great experience!

This trip was a great experience. All our days were busy and I was able to learn a lot.
From volunteering, to touring the cities and doing med rotations, I learned a lot about the culture, the people and also myself. It was a good balance of socializing and also doing hard work at the volunteer site. The country is beautiful and this trip definitely was able to show all the great things that the country had to offer.

How can this program be improved?
More time at the volunteer site!
Yes, I recommend this program
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July
9/10

Trip of a lifetime

This was a fantastic trip that allowed me to see so much of Ecuador with new friends! Everyone on the trip was great including the leaders. The food and accommodations were good and the volunteer site was a great experience.

How can this program be improved?
I would change the cost but that is a hard thing to change ! Overall it was great!
Yes, I recommend this program
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MaricelyE.
9/10

Best Ecuaexperience

This trip was truly a once in a lifetime experience. I was lucky enough to be a part of the pre med program in July. The first part of my trip was at the volunteer site which was actually my favourite part of this whole program. There are really no words to explain how amazing it was to meet the families, play with their children and work on the houses with them. The work was hard but everyone was always laughing and joking around I would usually forget how tired I was. Throughout the week we got to play soccer against their local team and they threw us a goodbye party. The people at the volunteer site were what made this trip unforgettable for me.
The next part of my trip was the medical rotations. I am honestly so glad that I had the opportunity to experience this because it made me realize how much I want a career in the medical field. Usually I have a tough time waking up in the morning but knowing that I had med rotations I would wake up right away. Everyday I learned something or saw something new. The med tutors were great at explaining what we were seeing and were always happy to answer any questions. I really appreciated how interactive the whole experience was.
The final part was the discover portion which was so much fun. We got to visit so many different areas of Ecuador. My favourite part was Canoa which is where I got to do the amazing race, surf lessons and paragliding all in one day! Throughout this time I got to go waterfall rappelling, tubing, hiking through the jungle, visit a chocolate factory and stand on the Equator line. I would easily recommend this program to all of my friends because I know they are guaranteed to have an amazing time.

How can this program be improved?
A little bit more organization would have been nice, sometimes I felt that we were waiting around but overall no complaints.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Amanda
10/10

Fantastic Program!

I can absolutely say that this program lived up to every expectation I had and more. It was a life changing month filled with new adventures every day. From waterfall rappelling to hiking through the amazon, each day was filled with something new and exciting. The volunteer portion of the trip was incredible as well, it was so rewarding to spend time working for families that were so grateful for what we were giving them. It is such an amazing feeling to know that you are working hard to make a difference in another person's life. I was in the biomed group so I also travelled to Galapagos Islands, which was one of the greatest weeks of my life. I loved the water activities such as snorkelling and kayaking. At the end of the month, my group participated in hospital rotations, which was an incredible learning experience. It was amazing to be so involved and up close to surgeries in the hospital. Overall, this program was really incredible and I will always remember the impact it made on my life!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Diego
9/10

HLD- Amazing Experience

At first i was hesitant regarding the trip. Financially it can be a bit demanding and seemed a little disorganized. After arriving however, everything exceeded my expectations and had one of the best experiences of my life.

From the learning aspect, the ability to have such a close up look into the medical field was mind blowing. Everyone was extremely knowledgeable and very helpful. It was also a very fulfilling trip with the ability to help in the community. Physically helping with the construction of houses was rewarding.

Not only focused on helping and learning, we were also given a great opportunity to see the country and experience the culture first hand.

How can this program be improved?
Little disorganized at times and can be frustrating trying to get ahold of the company from a different country.

I think that a little more organization when it comes to travel arrangements and the use of time in different locations would be something to change
Yes, I recommend this program
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Anna
9/10

May 2013 Ecuaexperience Vollunteer

This was the trip of a lifetime and a wonderful opportunity to learn and grow on an individual level as well as gain valuable life experience. Not only did I learn more about the world I live in but, I also had the opportunity to meet a lot of fantastic people both on the trip (students, staff and guides) and in the local village of Camarones.
It's challenging to find one main highlight for the trip as each component provided a very different and amazing aspect of the Help, Learn & Discover program. The volunteer site was such a powerful experience for myself and spending 12 days there was very worthwhile. The gratitude, love and kindness of the people there is overwhelmingly beautiful. It was also wonderful to see the progress on the homes day by day and see the difference
that everyone's hard work made.

The Learn component is geared towards students who are in the bio/pre-med program. Although I have not done this program I would highly recommend it to any student who has ever thought of becoming a doctor. It provides very practical experience and you will finish the program knowing if that is the career path for you.

The Discover portion was fantastic!! We did everything from waterfall repelling and white water rafting in Mindo to volcano hikes and snorkeling in the Galapagos (take the extra week and go to the Galapagos, it's breathtaking) to surfing lessons in Canoa.

How can this program be improved?
It was a bit of a challenge to find food to accommodate dietary restrictions, but you can bring your own (bars/snacks) or purchase extra food along the way (it's very inexpensive).
Yes, I recommend this program
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Sandra
9/10

May 2013 Med Trip

This trip was an absolutely amazing experience! I got so much more that I expected and imagined out of all 3 parts of the trip; med rotations, traveling, and volunteer.

The Med rotations were definately one of the things that most attracted me to this trip, and they did not disappoint. Its crazy how much we learned in just a week. It was an experience I could not have gotten anywhere else. We all got to see a wide variety of surguries and my group was even lucky enough to see a birth. But we also learned a lot from the workshops and the case studies too. The tutors were amazing, so knowledgeable and always answered all our questions, and went above and beyond to make the rotations exciting and educational for us. They were well chosen and definately were a huge part of why the med rotations were so great

The traveling around Ecuador was super cool because we got to know all the different sides of what Ecuador had to offer. We never stayed very long in one place, even though they did try to arrange longer stays in some of the nicer places like Canoa, but that was ok because thats what made it possible to see so much. We got to do some pretty sweet activities like surfing and waterfall rapelling too. Our tour guides Olivia and Tom were also awesome!!

The volunteer part was once in a lifetime experience. Nothing compares to actually meeting these families that will be receiving the houses and getting to know them, playing with their kids, and working along side them for the week. The work was hard but so rewarding, and at the end of the week it was so hard to say goodbye to the community. One thing that really struck us was how grateful they were and how generous and willing to give, even though they had so little! They made dinner for us the first night, and had a `dance party` for us to show us their appreciation. It was really special to witness.

Overall this trip was a great experience and I would definately reccomend it to anyone! You will do so many amazing things in a month and build so many lifetime memories and friendships!

How can this program be improved?
One thing I would have liked would be to spend more time at the volunteer site. :)
Yes, I recommend this program
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Ecua2013
10/10

August Pre-Med Group 2013

This was a trip of a lifetime. The group tour guide as well the owners did an amazing job of making everyone in the group feel included and excited about all of the events on the trip. They helped to foster teamwork and camaraderie in the group, and provided useful and interesting information about the different places we traveled to in Ecuador. The accommodations throughout the entire trip were amazing, as well as the food on tour and at the volunteer site. Volunteering was a highlight of the experience, as it was evident that the money raised by the group and the physical labour done by members of EcuaExperience made a major impact in the lives of the families in the community. Getting the opportunity to work alongside individuals who would be moving into the houses was an amazing opportunity and a chance to experience another culture. Another unique aspect of the trip were the medical rotations. From watching natural births to learning how to stitch, this week displayed many of the different fields in medicine as well as giving students insight into the daily lives of doctors. This is an experience that would probably be impossible to replicate in Canada outside of medical school. Overall, the trip was unbelievable; the group was filled with amazing people, I learned more about working in healthcare, and also gained exposure to a different culture. Once in Ecuador, the trip was very well organized.

How can this program be improved?
I wouldn't change anything about the trip itself. The only change I would make is to some of the organization beforehand (for example, receiving receipts for payment).
Yes, I recommend this program
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Alaina
8/10

August Pre-med

This trip was overall an awesome experience - due to it's nature you meet so many great people and experience so many new and exciting adventures.

Help - The volunteer site was amazing to see! We didn't get to see much of the beginning but the end result was really great and giving away the houses was such a fun experience, definitely a perk of going in August.

Learn - This part was incredible, we learned more than I could have imagined and standing behind the surgeons in the ORs was something you'll never get in Canada. If you're unsure if being a doctor/medicine is for you this is 100% the best way to find out. I even thought the case studies we did were a lot of fun!

Discover - We went to so many places I definitely got a feel for Ecuador. We saw ocean, mountain, rainforest, shopping, hot springs and did lots of activities like hikes, rappelling and tubing. We sacrificed time spent in each place for quantity but I'm glad we saw as much as we did.

How can this program be improved?
Help - While this part was great it would have been nice to spend more time there. We were scheduled for a week there but ended up only there for 4 days and of those days we weren't always working due to lack of supplies (frustrating since there was no lack of fundraised money).

Learn - No complaints! Great experience

Discover - Although we saw lots, we didn't see enough in my opinion. Disorganization was a big factor...our group didn't even make it to the equator monument which may not be a big deal for some but it was something I really wanted to see & take pictures at. I also wish we didn't visit the same places twice; I feel as though that time could have been better spent.

Overall I really think more organization and communication would solve most of this feedback and make ecuaexperience a top-notch program.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Zoe
10/10

Bio/Pre-med

An amazing way to travel, meet incredible people, learn, and feel as though you have made a difference in the world. This program taught me so much from seeing culture changes up close in the village of Camerones, exploring the landscape and biodiversity of the galapagos islands, to watching natural births and open heart surgerys in the hospitals of Quito. Looking back It's hard to imagine how we fit so many amazing adventures into only 4 weeks. Everyday is filled with new experiences from surfing lessons on the beaches of Canoa to jungle walks and tubing in the Amazon. I would recommend this trip to anyone who is looking for an unforgettable adventure in a beautiful country with people who create a positive, fun, free atmosphere. At the end of this trip you will feel as though you have found your second family.

How can this program be improved?
-As there were many groups travelling in all different directions some days seemed a little bit disorganized which led to time being wasted. This occurred a lot on the volunteer site, where there was a ton of mis-communication and the first hour of every shift was spent moving people around, finding tools ect.
-Having HLD T-shirts/bandanas before the trip to wear at the airport would have also been beneficial so that people travelling alone could identify other HLDers at the airport!

Yes, I recommend this program
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K.
10/10

Lifetime Ecuaexperience

Help, Learn & Discover has been an breathtaking, wild, knowledgeable and extremely valuable program. Not only does it cover aspects of medical rotations and show you the hot spots of Ecuador, but it also allows you to help the unfortunate communities by providing them with homes that they can cherish for the future.

Personally, my favourite part of this program was the "Help" portion where we were able to support the community in Camarones by helping build 20+ homes. Fundraising money in the places we live and knowing 100% of the proceeds going to the constructions of these houses as well as dealing with the money by ourselves makes this program exceptional as it gives you a great amount of responsibility and you are able to see all your fundraising work helping the lovely children and parents that are in Ecuador. In addition, the program allowing you to get to know the community on a personal level by holding meet & greets and parties makes this portion of the program important and emotional as you build a friendship with the community that you are helping. The smiles on children that you get to see everyday when you are working; that is something that words really cannot describe and one must travel to experience first hand. This program allows you to truly feel and see the support you are showing to the community and I would highly recommend anyone to join this program on this reason alone.

However, Ecuaexperience not only has a Help section but also a "Learn" and thus makes this program is truly worthwhile. Since I did the pre-med program I was privileged to see some amazing things in hospitals that I would never be able to see in Canada unless I was to be in medical school. For anyone wondering if they would like to pursue a medical career the "Learn" quadrant of HLD gives an exceptional taste of what it is like to be a medical student with case studies, morning rounds, physical exams, surgery viewing and much more. By doing this program I have assured myself that I want to pursue the medical path even after seeing how difficult it is. HLD also hires English medical students to help you out throughout the week and therefore you do not feel lost at anytime during the learning process and you can have as many questions answered. The med tutors are extremely knowledgeable, supportive and you get to know them on a personal level so this program also gives you the opportunity to make a lot of overseas friends.

If that isn't enough alone HLD goes above and beyond with the Discover portion by taking students to some of the absolute beautiful places in Ecuador including waterfalls, natural hot springs, jungle, stunning beaches etc. They also throw in some crazy activities such as water fall repelling! I wont say much more so I do not ruin the experience for those that are intending to embark on this lifetime adventure.

I can understand how the prices may seem high for this program, however I assure you every penny I paid was completely worth it for what I received out of this program. Not only do you get a sense of accomplishment as you get to support an entire community, you also learn some really cool things along the way and you get to travel the beautiful land of Ecuador!

There isn't much to say other than its time for you to go experience Ecuador yourself and to say this program is the best is an understatement (its simply amazing) as it manages to let you find out a lot of things about yourself as well as see and do things that you will be sharing for pretty much the rest of your life!

How can this program be improved?
One thing that would be nice is if they told us a little more in advance what would be happening in the near future. There was times where we received information on short notice and it was a little more difficult to adjust, however it was a very minor problem.
Yes, I recommend this program
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August2013
9/10

Pre-Med

This trip was absolutely incredible and life changing. The places we visited were so beautiful and the people I met were amazing.

Help- the volunteer component was great, it was a really good feeling to know that we were making a positive difference.

Learn- absolutely amazing and no complaints about this part of the trip. I got to see things I would never see back home. The tutors are all incredibly bright, mature, friendly and intelligent. They make sure that you understand everything you are seeing and that you learn as much as possible. I stood in on numerous surgeries and natural births, and got an idea of what the work day of a doctor was like. The seminars at night are interesting and fun. For anyone interested in medicine I would highly recommend this trip.

Discover- Ecuador is such a beautiful country with so much to offer. We visited Quito, Banos (waterfalls and cable cars, night club), Papallacta (hot springs), Mindo (hiking, waterfall repelling, white water tubing, el quetzal chocolate factory, salsa dancing and butterfly sanctuary) , Misahuailli (jungle hike, tubing into hotel) , Otovalo (indigenous market), Cotopaxi (incredible scenery), Canoa (surfing and partying) and Mompiche (all inclusive resort). Every place was awesome for completely different reasons.

Overall my impression of this trip was very positive. it was my first time travelling for that long and I was amazed at the things we saw and did. I would definitely recommend it to people looking for a safe and enjoyable trip, especially if you are contemplating a job in healthcare.

How can this program be improved?
Help- I know that lots of the other groups had great experiences overall and I did too HOWEVER I hope that in future years, HLD ensures that ALL volunteers are able to spend adequate time on the work site, that the collection of funds is more organized and that the spending of funds is more transparent (as it was originally promised to be). My group only spend 3 or 4 days on the site even though we were scheduled for 9. I was really looking forward to spending time with the families and putting a lot of work into the homes but never got a chance to, in part because of scheduling confusion and in part because of disorganized ordering of supplies.
Learn- No complaints. awesome!
Discover- The only complaints for this part of the trip are that it was disorganized at time- there were transportation issues like the bus breaking down several times causing us to not be able to visit the equator line, having to take random taxis to make up for malfunctioning vehicles, waiting around for other groups for a long time, going to some places twice but not even once to others. Everything we did do was amazing and I would do it all again in a heart beat, but the organization could definitely improve.
The only other complaint I have is that if you run into problems like losing a passport or luggage, you will have a hard time dealing with it as the trip organizers are often to busy to help you.
Yes, I recommend this program
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August2013
5/10

Experience like no other

If the med rotations are what draws you to this program then you will be more than thrilled. You'll never get an experience like that anywhere else. You're right behind the surgeons and can take pictures for later use. So so so amazing. The tutors are great and I learned so much.

Unfortunately the other parts of this trip weren't as great as I hoped. I feel like the help and discover portions should be predictable and the same amongst groups but they weren't. There was time wasted & missed opportunities due to extreme disorganization. If that's the part you most look forward to, I suggest looking elsewhere.

Anyone going on this trip will undoubtably have an amazing time and meet such great people. It's only the experienced traveler that will notice the discrepancy with other tour groups for the volunteer and travel portion.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Shelby
10/10

Ecuaexperience= The Best Experience

This trip was the most rewarding and challenging experience of my life. I learned so much about Ecuador as a country, about medicine, and, most importantly, about myself through this month-long journey.

If I had to pick a favourite week, it would definitely be the volunteer site. Nothing compares to the looks on a family's face as they see their new homes come together. Even though we didn't speak the same language, we still were able to understand each other. It's incredible how close you can get with a community in a single week. The families receiving the homes work beside the volunteers every day, and it really gives perspective and meaning to your work.

In the touring sections, you were given the opportunity to discover the diversity of Ecuador. We travelled from the highlands, to the coast, to the jungle and back. Along the way, we hiked, surfed, tubed in the Amazon, and sat at the base of a volcano. You truly saw a bit of everything Ecuador has to offer. The guides were hilarious and really made these weeks worth-while. It was a lot of bus rides, but they flew by in a wave of dance parties and sing-alongs.

Med rotations were so unique and educational. On top of shadowing doctors in Quito hospitals, we were given access to bilingual tutors who answered all of our questions. We were able to see the ER/ICU, pediatrics, births, OR, radiology, and sports medicine. Nightly labs gave us the opportunity to learn stitches, and how to draw blood (from each other!!!).

Overall, this was the best month of my life, and I will miss the country and people every day. Everyone remotely interested in this program should go. You won't regret it.

How can this program be improved?
The only thing I would change is the all-inclusive resort in Mompiche. I didn't think it was a necessary spot on our tour. As nice as it was, we were only there for one night and had to travel ~4 hours to get there. I much rather would have spent that day at the volunteer site or in Canoa surfing.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Marc-André
10/10

Help, Learn & Discover - Nothing but the truth

I honestly don't know where to start... HLD Ecuaexperience has been an opportunity I won't soon forget. The people are remarkable, the things we see and people we meet are life changing, and the impact we make is heartwarming.

Help: The long and hard days at the volunteer site are worth every drop of sweat when you accomplish something as worthwhile as giving a family (especially 21 families) a home. The community is so appreciative, it really gives you a new perspective on life.

Learn: Thinking about medicine? The medical rotations are definitely an eye opening experience. During the long hours in the hospitals, you'll see anything from live births to a rhynoplasty, all while interacting with knowledgeable tutors and medical staff that really want to make your experience enjoyable.

Discover: Want to see sights that take your breath away? Ecuaexperience is not short on awe inspiring scenery. You haven't really hiked until you've hiked through the Amazon to one of the most breathtaking waterfalls.

All in all, this program is top notch and I would recommend it to anyone interested in making a difference. On top of it all, the friends you will make during this trip are ones that you will never want to let go. Trust me, this trip is more than worthwhile.

August 2013 HLD Participant

Yes, I recommend this program

About Ecuaexperience

Help, Learn and Discover is an innovative organization offering educational programs in Ecuador, South America. We strive to offer a fulfilling life experience which combines helping those less fortunate with learning about a specific academic area...