Where do you start a review when you have so many positive things to say?
I'll begin by sharing my initial thoughts on the program. Was it really offering medical rotations, volunteering abroad, and travel? Galapagos Islands?! Machu Picchu?! You've got to be kidding me. It sounded too good to be true. Well let me inform you... it was even better than it sounded. Little did I know how much of an impact the entirety of the trip would have on my life.
Throughout the hospital rotations, Ecuadorian Medical students were there to mentor us which was exciting, fun, insightful, and rewarding. The kindness that these students showed toward patients, doctors, each other, and us, was inspiring. They translated the Spanish for us and were constantly looking out for our well-being. I was amazed at the amount of things I saw throughout our rotations.
As for rural villages, everyone is aware of the poor conditions that some people live in. Maybe you've seen it on TV, or heard details. But nothing compares to seeing it with your own eyes. Nothing compares to connecting with families and playing with children who are constantly happy, yet being aware of their living conditions. Helping build these families better homes and giving them the opportunity to learn and grow is the best feeling I've ever felt. To work alongside these families and to experience their appreciation is beyond humbling. Out of the entire Ecuador trip, Pallatanga is the place I miss most.
There is something to be said for travelling with like-minded, kind-hearted people. The leaders and especially Jose and Juan made this trip beyond enjoyable. So many times I was brought out of comfort zone and from that I learned new things. There was never a dull moment. Jose and Juan always put the students first and were constantly ensuring everyone was happy and having fun. I had the opportunity of going to the Galapagos Islands where we swam with sea lions, turtles and penguins, as well as parasailing over the city of Lima, and hiking up to Machu Picchu and Wayna Picchu. I couldn't have asked for better company along the way. This trip wouldn't have been the same without the people in charge of it.