EcuaExperience: Pre-Medical and Volunteer Programs

Video and Photos

paint
paint
ecuador
ecuador
Pujili community
Pujili community
friends for life
friends for life
Medical Rotation
Medical Rotation
OR Rotation in PAS hospital in Quito
OR Rotation in PAS hospital in Quito
Giant Tortoise that is native to the Galapagos
Giant Tortoise that is native to the Galapagos
Volunteer site in Pujili
Volunteer site in Pujili

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 231 reviews
  • Impact 9.7
  • Support 9.7
  • Fun 9.2
  • Value 9.7
  • Safety 9.7
Showing 181 - 195 of 231
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Tom
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An amazingly versatile and unique experience

The month that I spent in Ecuador with HLD was undoubtedly one of, if not the best, months that I will spend in my lifetime. The three aspects of my (BioMed) trip were all equally amazing in their own aspect but so different from each other that it is impossible to choose a favourite.

The majority of the month, spent touring Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, was exciting, challenging, entertaining and extremely interesting. From waterfalls, to rainforests, snorkelling, and stunning beaches, there truly must be something for everyone on this trip. The Discover aspect of this trip is truly a unique way to see and explore a beautiful South American country in a way that would be impossible by yourself.

The Help portion of the trip, spent building houses in the rural village of Camarones was almost inexplicably amazing. From the satisfaction of knowing you are making a huge difference in peoples lives, to playing soccer against the local community and joking around with the local kids, it is impossible to not leave this portion of the trip with a huge grin on your face.

The Learn aspect of the trip, spent in Quito hospitals experiencing and learning about the medical profession may have just changed my life. I went into the trip not sure if I wanted to be a doctor, but the things I was able to see and the medical tutors I was able to learn from and talk to, have really got me thinking about my future in the field of medicine.

All in all, I would go back to HLD in a second and do it all over without any regrets. This trip really has the ability change your life on an emotional, educational and personal level if you give it a chance. I am grateful for all of the leaders and fellow students who made the trip what it was for me.

What would you improve about this program?
I would add a few more days of Volunteer to each of the 3 trips, as the days on the volunteer site fly by like nothing else and everybody found themselves shocked that it was already over.
Default avatar
dav
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Stress-free Adventure

This trip was a great way to see beautiful Ecuador without having to worry about your own accommodation, transportation, food etc. as everything is taken care of by the wonderful bilingual guides. This means that you can really focus on just having fun and enjoying the all the cool places they bring you!

The locations you go are nice and diverse, all exciting and interesting in their own ways. It's crazy how much the scenery can change just in a short drive (i.e. from dry and cold at 3300m in the Andes to hot and humid in the Amazon jungle in a 3-4 hour drive!). Each location is jam-packed with fun activities, and you really make the most of your time there.

Breakfast and lunch are provided at all locations, and all the meals surpassed my expectations greatly - I never left the table hungry, and I'm a guy who eats a ton! Usually the group goes together to a restaurant for dinners which are always really good too, and this way you can choose how much you want to spend depending on how hungry you are. The juices everywhere were unreal!!

The leaders were all super fun and friendly which made the trip all the better. The group was changing every week or so due to the different programs (bio-med, pre-med, volunteer) coming/going, meaning that you always had tons of people to talk to. You meet tons of like-minded people, so it's super easy to make friends.

What would you improve about this program?
Though being lead around by guides means less stress, it also inevitably means less freedom to choose your own activities and schedule (though I was perfectly happy doing what was scheduled all the time).

It also means that the group can sometimes move slowly (at dinners etc.) but this just gives you more time to socialize anyway!
Default avatar
ryanna
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best experience in my life, very life-changing

Help, Learn and Discover has made a huge impact in my life. It has showed me how helping others can be so much fun and you get to learn so much about another country and about yourself.

First off, the volunteer site was the best part of the trip. I cannot explain in words what I felt while I was helping in the community but I'll try. You get to help build homes for a community of poor people who have been struggling in paying rent every month. You get to give shelter for their children and make them feel more comfortable. You also get to connect with the community while building homes since you will be building their houses with them. Even if there is a language barrier between both parties, you will still feel that connection with them and you will for sure make the effort to learn their basic language so you can communicate with them. Body language is key in communicating with them as well. The children in the community are so awesome since they are so playful too. After the whole trip, I want to go back to Camarones (the community we helped) after a few years just to see how the community is doing.

Travelling around Ecuador and seeing the main attractions around the country is amazing. You get to learn about the culture and the way people live in Ecuador. Learning about the history and background stories of the place where you are helping is awesome because you get to feel the wholeness of why you are helping that country. Yes, we do lots of fun things like tubing at the amazon, night jungle hikes and jungle hike, repelling down a waterfall, surfing, hotsprings and lots of other adventurous things but that is just the secondary fun of the whole trip. There were times where I wished I stayed in the community longer because one week is not enough. However, Ecuador is a big country and there are just so many things to explore and learn as well.

In this trip, you have to be ready to go out of your box and explore what there is out there for you. This trip has definitely pushed me to do things I wouldn't think I could have done before. It feels amazing. You get to discover your limits and what you can do. You have to dare yourself to do the things the people in Ecuador think is normal (eg. eating guinea pigs and lemon ants). After accomplishing some of these things, I surely felt amazing about myself that I went through these experiences and have learnt that I can do anything in the world. Also, there are more things in life than what we see everyday here in north america.

In the 5 weeks I was in Ecuador, I have learned so much, discovered things about Ecuador and myself and helped families to have shelter the rest of their lives. In that short time, I have accomplished all these and I can say that it feels amazing. I wish everyone can experience this because it not only open your eyes to a new world but also helps you grow as a person and see things in a different perspective. Given a chance again to go back and help another community, I would do it again in a heartbeat.

What would you improve about this program?
If I had to change one thing that would be to stay in the community longer and help them finish their houses. I would stay 2 months - one month before august and august to give the houses away. I think the feeling of giving the houses away and seeing how the community appreciate what you have done for them would be awesome and unexplainable.
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Taylor
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

One Amazing Month

The experience that HLD provides on your trip to Ecuador is a once in a lifetime opportunity. You truly get to see and experience things that you can never imagine seeing in Canada. For example in the medical rotations having the chance to see the everyday rotations of doctors in different specializations is tremendously valuable for anyone who is interested in one day pursuing a career in the medical field. The time you spend on the volunteer site also helps put into perspective just how great we have it back home. Lastly, possibly the best part about this trip is the relationships you form with the amazing people you meet on the trip. Both me and my sister have now gone on this trip and I know we would both not hesitate to recommend it to someone else.

What would you improve about this program?
There are some places that would be a lot of fun to spend a little more time in ( Canoa )
Default avatar
the
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing experience

Medical rotation around local hospitals, adventure in amazon river and jungle, chilling in hot spring, volunteer for the poor, and waterfall repelling. Amazing experience.
Leaders and crews are awesome people to talk to and be with.

What would you improve about this program?
If we can reduce the time of 50 people traveling together, that would be better.
Default avatar
Alex
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Experience of a life time.

Somehow after reading tons of very positive reviews before going on the trip, the experience managed to exceed my expectations. Saying that this trip is life-changing isn't just giving it another random cheezy description. It truly is life-changing in so many great ways! I left Ecuador with a better perspective on life, on others, and even myself.

The "discover" part of this trip was flawless. There was always something new to experience every day! Even the rainy days were so much fun. We got to hike through the jungle, rappel down a waterfall, tube down rivers, learn to surf, party with great friends, and so much more! It felt like we were always so sad to leave every area we visited because they were so unique and fun. But as soon as we got to the next destination it was just as exciting as the last! We were not given specific itineraries for this trip which at first made me a little skeptical, but I soon learned how special it was to just live in the moment without constantly watching the time! Loved every moment of it.

The "help" portion of the trip was unbelievable. What a great community to be involved with! Not only did we get to see our fundraised money go directly to use and physically help build houses for very deserving families, we had the opportunity to work alongside and form relationships with the families who would be receiving the houses. This is a really important aspect of the volunteer portion and allowed us to get the most out of the short experience. As well as building the houses with the families, we had an organized party and a huge soccer game where we got to just dance and play with the kids and get to know them! So inspiring to see them so happy with so little.

In the "learn" part of the trip we did just that! For the first time in my life I was learning school material just for the sake of learning. The tutors were amazing! They were great at answering any questions we had at any time and were really committed to our group and helping us learn. In spending time with them, we got to learn not only medical procedures and facts but also what it's really like to be in medical school or a practicing doctor. Got to learn and see so many things that I would have never had the opportunity to experience in Canada such as taking someone's blood, practicing stitches, and standing above to head of a patient during a surgery.

I would do this trip again and again if I could! I came back with some new great friends and a whole new perspective that has inspired me to continue to travel. I can't wait to return to the beautiful country of Ecuador one day.

What would you improve about this program?
If I could change one thing about this trip it would be to double the time in each location and stay in Ecuador for two months instead of one. I feel like I only got a taste of most places when I could have easily stayed longer to experience each area a bit more.
Default avatar
Robyn
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

HLD May 2013

This experience gave me firsthand experience and opportunities to truly cement what I want to do with my life. During the med rotations, I loved that we got to see what it's like to be a doctor/work in a medical profession. One of my most favourite days was on the surgery rotation where we got to see three different surgeries in 3 hours. Personally, I never was interested in the OR, more so in paediatrics, but after seeing what goes on in there, I am so interested! The knowledge the tutors imparted on us was useful, applicable, and so interesting.

We also got to travel and see the wonders Ecuador has to offer. I loved that we got a behind the scenes look at Ecuador. One of my most favourite adventures was our hike through the rainforest. It was SO beautiful and such an incredible experience. I also loved going to Otavalo and shopping in the market that was there. I loved the med rotations, but this is what made me fall in love with Ecuador. I loved loved loved all the places we got to go see. My favourite location we went to was Canoa. I loved the beachy lifestyle and the hotel we stayed at was so much fun. That part of the trip is something to look forward to!

The volunteer part of the trip was lifechanging. Working with the families that will receive the houses was incredible. The relationships you build with them will stick with you forever. The children were also so wonderful and such delights! It was really humbling to be in a place where they had nothing, yet were so willing to give us what they had and to make us feel special. And that they did it with such joy!

What would you improve about this program?
I wish we got more time in certain locations (like Canoa and the volunteer site), but I do realize that there was a lot to see and experience in a short amount of time... maybe the trip should be longer :)
I also wish that there was a little bit more to see in the night med rotations.
Default avatar
Marcus
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A greater experience than I expected

I loved how the medical portion mimicked what it was like to be in the later years of med school and I thoroughly enjoyed the lessons as well as the rotations. I felt it really gave me a feel for what to expect when I pursue med school and only concreted my thoughts on which fields of medicine I'd want to practice. The tutors were amazing and well picked, they really tied the experience together and made sure it was personal and that we got the most out of everything. The food was good and I liked having the ability to choose what I got to eat for the majority of the trip. The hotels and hostels were unique and only added to the experience, I wouldn't change anything in regards to where we stayed. I especially appreciated the hotel at Canoa and thought it was the perfect way to end the trip.

What would you improve about this program?
It would be cool if there was a place the med participants could go to view the content taught online as we went through it considerably fast (understandably) and having access to that could be a great value. My only complaint would be that some of the meals at the volunteer site weren't very healthy and didn't leave me satisfied after the long days of work. It wasn't a huge issue but it would have been nice to have some healthier options.
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Makayla
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best trip of my life

Ecuaexperiance was truly a lifechanging trip for me. I did the Volunteer portion of the trip and being able to spend 12 days with a community as caring and amazing as that in Camarones was incredible. It made you realize how well off we are and how much you take it for granted. The way that the community welcomed us was heartwarming, they made us dinner, took us dancing, and welcomed us into their families. I think it will be impossible for me to forget about the friendships I made with the people in Camarones.

The whole trip for me was a 10/10. The other people travelling were amazing, we all grew so close so easily it was very hard saying goodbye. The leaders made sure everyone was having a good time all the time and the adventures we had will not be forgotten.

What would you improve about this program?
I wouldnt really change anything, maybe offer a different program where you can just go for a volunteer but for a longer amount of time, that would be cool!
Default avatar
Jimmy
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An Amazing Trip Underestimated (May 2013)

This trip was amazing, I would not be surprised if most people found it to be life-changing. The impact of the Pre-Med program has 100% set my medical career goals into stone. The tutors were friendly and professional, with loads of knowledge to share.

The volunteer portion was amazing as well, from the place we stayed to the community where the houses were being built. Seeing what we take for granted in our everyday lives is VERY eye opening. The experience of actually digging and building the foundations for a future house with the to-be owners was unbelievable. Meeting the community, hearing their stories and attempting to communicate with them is just an unforgettable experience.

Finally, discovering Ecuador and everything it has to offer was my dream come true. I could not have imagined that it would be like this. From being up in the mountains, to down by the ocean. From historical settlements, to jungle barely touched by man, to white sandy beaches. Not to mention how many friends were made on this trip.

I would definitely return to do this trip again in a heartbeat.

What would you improve about this program?
The only thing I would like to change about the trip is maybe a reduction in the price of the trip, as I know many people who would have loved to join if they could afford it. I would also have liked to have been able to go on an extra week. Also, just for the beginning of the trip, the organization could have been better; however, none of these factors affected how much I enjoyed this trip.
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Joanne
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

May 2013 - PreMed

This trip was honestly the most incredible experience I have ever had! Every portion - the help, the learn and the discover - were so well thought out and crafted and everything seemed to be planned to perfection. The hospital rotations were phenomenal - they gave me such insight into what it was like in the typical day of a doctor and they were pretty interactive! I have never been so motivated to pursue a career in medicine and it 100% is because of this trip. The travel portion of the trip was awesome!!!! The travel days were spread throughout the entire trip which gave nice variation. Every hotel we stayed at was awesome with super friendly staff and the meals were also incredible! On top of that, the activities they had planned for us were so much fun and really allowed you to experience the culture! I never once felt unsafe on the trip and always had full confidence that our leaders knew what was up! Last but absolutely not least was the volunteer portion. Holy SMOKES. Everything about the village - the location, the people, the weather, the hospitality and the kids - pulled at my heart strings. The work was challenging but by no means difficult and it was so much fun to work alongside the people of the village and your teammates - using as much Spanish as we possibly knew to communicate! And its actually crazy how much you actually could have a conversation with the locals, despite the very little amount of Spanish we knew! They were all so ready and willing to help. Honestly, the most beautiful people I have ever met. It was truly this part of the trip that stole my heart and it belongs no where but in Ecuador!

What would you improve about this program?
I would have loved to have been able to spend more time with the community outside of working hours. And also would have liked to have a couple more days at the worksite!
Default avatar
Bella's
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

HLD 2013

Help, Learn and Discover is a fantastic program that I would recommend to anyone who is passionate about global aid, nature, culture and medicine.

My favorite portion of the trip was being in the hospital. Each rotation allowed me to appreciate the different fields of medicine and effectively taught me a great deal of each subject. The tutors were very knowledgeable and fun which made the long hours worth every second.

Building houses for and with the communities was another rewarding experience. I really liked that the community members were working alongside of the volunteers so that they could feel a sense of accomplishment when the houses were finished. The kids in the community were so much fun and were the best motivation for digging in 40 degree weather.

The discover portion of the trip pushed my limits of fear with adrenaline based activities. Through this experience I made great friends who share the same interests that I do.

What would you improve about this program?
I wish I did the extra weeks but it was too expensive for me.
Default avatar
Jordan
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An Awesome Experience

I was part of the 2013 Med program and it was incredible. The med rotations gave a comprehensive insight into many different aspects of the medical field. The tutors assigned to us during the rotations were excellent.

Touring Ecuador was also a great experience as we got to experience Ecuadorian culture and participate in activities such as rappelling down a waterfall and hiking through the amazon rain-forest.

Most importantly, the volunteer experience was unparalleled. Building homes for the community was by far the highlight of the trip. Saying goodbye to the community was absolutely gut wenching.

The quality of people that I met on the trip was matchless. The other volunteers, leaders, tutors, guides, bus drivers and owners of the company were some of the most incredible people that I have ever met. Needless to say, I believe this trip was well worth it.

What would you improve about this program?
My one complaint about the program is a nitpick. If you go on this trip be prepared to eat a lot of chicken and rice.
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Anonymous
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I'd do it again in a heartbeat!

What a way to spend one month of your summer: learn a new language, help the underprivileged, shadow physicians, explore touristic hot spots... It's educational, inspirational, and life-changing, all in one.

This trip (HDL Aug 2010) was hands-down one of the best decisions I've ever made. Juan, Jose, and the entire staff are so warm, encouraging, and downright hilarious. They make the trip all the much more enjoyable. You'll make plenty of new friends, try new food, see some new sites, and gain new experiences. All these things will mold you into a more global and keen member of society, observant and respectful of various cultures, always appreciative of those and things around you because you have traveled abroad to a 3rd world county where citizens do not possess the same privileges you take for granted every day.

Two years post HDL, I still keep in touch with my friends from the trip and one of them became my boyfriend. So, thank you EcuaExperience for allowing me to embrace the summer of my life and meet the one person who will embrace me for the rest of my life, and vice versa.

What would you improve about this program?
I honestly have nothing to critique.
Default avatar
LeCarol
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

OMG

OMG. Such a great program!
Have you ever been on trips where the reality totally outweighs your expectations? Well, this would be one of those trips. The Help, Learn and Discover program will do just that: HELPing the local community with construction and housing projects, LEARNing and experiencing new things from watching live surgeries to surfing in Canoa. And, above all, DISCOVERing the beautiful and culturally-rich Ecuador and even yourself!
Along the way, you'll also make friendships that will long outlast the trip!
Overall, I highly recommend this program to all you curious, adventurous and enthusiastic undergrads out there. You will have the time of your life on this trip or you'll get your money back. Okay, joking about the money part. But, in all seriousness, it is one heck of an amazing program to participate in!

Location

Location:
Ecuador
Currency:
United States Dollar
Weather:
Jan-Mar
86 F / 50 F
Apr-Jun
86 F / 48 F
Jul-Sep
82 F / 48 F
Oct-Dec
84 F / 48 F
Airports:
Mariscal Sucre International
( UIO )
José Joaquín de Olmedo International
( GYE )
Mariscal Lamar International
( CUE )

Ecuador hugs the equator on the west coast of South America, and holds Amazonian jungle, Andean highlands, and the Galapagos islands off the coast. Needless to say it is one of the most environmentally diverse countries in the world.

About Ecuaexperience- Clinical Shadowing for Pre-Health Students

Help, Learn and Discover is an innovative organization offering pre-health programs in Ecuador, South America. We strive to offer a fulfilling life experience which combines helping those less fortunate with learning about the medical system and...