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 196 - 210 of 226
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LD
10/10

One of the most amazing experiences in my whole life!

This experience had everything I was looking for in a volunteer trip! The ability to help out a community build houses for their families was such a rewarding experience, unlike any other I have had. Touring the country was another great experience. We had the opportunity to visit cities and towns all over the country including a night stay in the middle of the jungle. The third aspect of the trip was the medical rotations, which were unbelievable. Being able to view real life surgeries and visit patients with the medical tutors was a fantastic experience. Overall the entire trip was amazing. The staff really had your best interest in mind at all times and were extremely helpful and lots of fun!

How can this program be improved?
The only criticism I can think of, were that the bus rides may have been a little long at times, but the staff always managed to make our bus rides very entertaining! I would highly recommend this trip to anyone looking for a volunteer program abroad.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Jackie
9/10

The Best Time of My Life

This was such a great time. You get there and feel welcomed right away by the amazing staff. You never need to fear for your safety or feel like you aren't taken care of. The staff really work hard to give you as full and complete and experience as you can get. You feel like your experience really matters to them, they are not just in it to make a buck. You get to see some amazing views and have some incredible experiences. This program offers a pretty broad experience of the vast diversity in the country and the additional trips are well worth it. You get to spend time with amazing young people that are like-minded and driven and interested in the world and its welfare. The accommodations were often better than expected. I would recommend this to anyone.

How can this program be improved?
At some of the locations a hot shower with consistent pressure was not a guarantee but it won't kill you.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Emily
10/10

Trip of a Lifetime

HLD is an amazing program that I has impacted my life for the better. Not only did I meet some great people who have become lifelong friends but it also helped me decide on my future plans. The experience that I had with this organization will stay with me for the rest of my life and there was not a moment in the entire trip that I was not having so much fun!
I highly recommend this program to everyone who has even the slightest interest in medicine or volunteering abroad. It was a perfect mixture of learning, helping, and touring the country.

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Simon
10/10

My Ecuaexperience...

The day to day schedule for the volunteer portion consisted of early mornings where as a group we would all have breakfast together than while making our way to the site we were all given our tasks and put into our groups.
Our lunches were all provided for while we were at the work site.
The people that lived in the community were all amazing! And all helped us with the workload making it an unforgettable experience.

All in all, whether we were on the work sight , or out discovering the BEAUTIFUL!! Country...The memories I have with HLD are some of my best!!

How can this program be improved?
Wish I could stay longer!!!! :)
Yes, I recommend this program
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Sonny
10/10

Experience of a lifetime!

Being someone who hasn't been a big volunteering kinda guy in the past prior to this program, I have to say it had to take one heck of a program for me to want to commit my time to it. HLD exceeded each and every one of my expectations and provided me with not one, but two trips of a lifetime! The pre-medical rotations were unforgettable, and being able to not only help raise money for the construction of the homes, but also be a part of the actual building of the homes was beyond rewarding. Not only that, I was able to meet amazing people on both trips and have a blast with them!
I would definitely recommend this experience to anyone and everyone!

How can this program be improved?
I wouldn't change a thing (although another extra couple days in Canoa wouldn't hurt!)
Yes, I recommend this program
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Smith
10/10

HLD - The Ultimate Experience

It is hard to put into words this experience and how it has impacted me except that it met and surpassed my every expectation.

HLD is everything I was looking to accomplish in a summer!

1. Make a difference
2. Travel somewhere exotic and get my adventure on
3. Gain work experience

Juan, Jose, and the other leaders create an experience that is more than just a group of like-minded people sharing the vacation of a lifetime. They have create the atmosphere of a family with the goal of helping others and having a blast every step of the way.

The volunteer project stands out to me the most because it is personal and oh so rewarding as you work hard along side the families receiving the houses you're building together.

Thank you HLD for the ecuaexperience that I will carry with me for the rest of my life!

How can this program be improved?
I would not change a sinlgle thing!
Yes, I recommend this program
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Davis
10/10

HLD...a truly lifechanging experience

I first went to Ecuador with HLD in 2008 and it was truly a life changing experience. The opportunity to fundraise money in my hometown of Vancouver and take every cent of that money down to Ecuador to allocate towards a building project is something I will never forget. The sense of pride that comes from accomplishing such a goal is second to none. The best part is, it’s your goals, HLD provides the tools and direction but it is really the students who take it on and accomplish it. And that definitely makes a difference when you are over in Ecuador, working side-by-side with the families that will be receiving the homes.

As amazing as the volunteering experience was, HLD is so much more than that. I went in the pre-medical program, which meant I got to shadow doctors through different wards of hospitals in Ecuador. Not only did this allow me to directly talk to doctors and ask them about their profession but it also gave me a taste of the lifestyle. This was vital to my decisions making process when considering med-school.

HLD is the perfect balance of volunteering, learning and fun. In the tour around Ecuador you travel from the rainforest to the jungle to the mountains to the coast. You stay in some amazing locations and get to try out so awesome adventure sports. I also added an extra week trip to the Galapagos…a place like nowhere else in the world…my favourite travel destination I have ever been to.

As you can tell I can’t speak highly enough of HLD. Juan and Jose, the owners, are truly passionate about making a difference and they are there to make sure you have the best time possible. I made so many lasting friendships and wish I could go back every summer!

Yes, I recommend this program
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trm
10/10

HLD for life

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.

How can this program be improved?
The only downfall was that because our health was always being looked out for, there was a lack of fruit and vegetables that we could consume. Being a vegetarian, it was a bit tough but I was always accommodated at meals. I would suggest bringing some snacks from home!
Yes, I recommend this program
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Kilee
10/10

HLD!

One of the best decisions of my life was to decide to travel to Ecuador with HLD. It opened my eyes to so many new things and different cultures. It not only made a difference in people's lives, but gave me a greater sense of the medical field, and allowed me to have a ridiculous amount of fun at the same time. I met some people that I can confidently say I will be friends with forever! If anyone is contemplating taking this trip, there's nothing to contemplate! You won't only change other people's lives but it will also change yours.

Yes, I recommend this program
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SSY
9/10

One of the most amazing opportunities given to me.

This was a trip I went on about two years ago, just randomly, after being referred to the program by a friend. I had little to no expectation on the program when I went into the program, however, the program taught me so much more and exposed me to so many great experiences with the community and the medical field. I personally grew so much and learned more about myself than anything. I think I realized how sheltered I was, but experiencing and putting myself out there with a completely foreign culture, it allowed me to realize more things. The staff was great, helpful and always made me feel safe throughout the whole trip. The medical rotations allowed me to really get a feel for what doctors and nurses go through. The different rotations allowed me to open my options for what I would like to do in the future. It has also helped me broaden my vision in my goals.

Yes, I recommend this program
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olé,
10/10

HLD is the place to be

This trip has honestly been one of the most amazing experiences in my entire life. I learned so much! I learned a lot about the culture in Ecuador and South America in general. I learned about how to make a lasting impact in a community. I learned so much about myself.

This was such a great trip because there was so much balance! We worked hard but we also had tons of fun :) I'm so grateful for the fact that I can look back fondly at building homes from scratch and knowing that its made a positive change for so many families. Best of all, some of my best friends today are from this wonderful experience.

Going through all the medical rotations definitely helped me narrow down my career choice and helped me establish what I want to do and what I really don't want to do. This opportunity really wouldn't have been possible at home. If you're not sure which aspect of medicine/health care you want to be involved with, this program will definitely be an eye opener.

How can this program be improved?
Those long bus rides! Although, it was really great bonding time...
Yes, I recommend this program
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Skinner.
10/10

Best trip of my life!

Going on this trip was definitely the best and most rewarding thing I have ever done. I had considered doing other volunteer trips before but Help, Learn, Discover stood out from the rest and I'm so glad I chose them.

I felt like I was really able to make a difference in the lives of others. The interaction with the community you're helping is remarkable. These people have barely anything, but they welcome you with open arms and treat you like family. I will never forget seeing one of the homes we were replacing, no one should ever have to live like that. This program is truly making a difference!

They take you to crazy places and have these amazing activities for you to do. You get to experience Ecuador like a local would experience it. Going to the Galapagos Islands was a dream come true for me, without HLD I may have never been able to experience it.

If you are looking for something meaningful, life changing and so so so much fun, look no further than Help, Learn, Discover!

How can this program be improved?
To be able to go back on the trip over and over and over again.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Wilson
10/10

The Ecuaexperience knows what's up

This program is one amazingly unique program, it is meticulously planned. From the medical rotations, tours, construction of the houses, and everything in between. It all starts with Juan and Jose, these guys are unbelievable and will make an everlasting impression on you. They construct a team full of wonderful students to lead you through an astounding journey. Beginning with the fundraisers until you arrive safely back home.

Building houses for Pallatanga was one of the most rewarding experiences in life. After touring their town, you'll feel vibe of something special going on. Being able to touch so many lives by donating your time is just remarkable. As far as the medical rotations go, you'll learn much more than what you were expecting. For someone looking into the medical field, these rotations will help you gain a different perspective. The tutors can answer any kind of question you may come across. They're very knowledgeable and advice they give is definitely worth jotting down.

The tours are breathtaking experiences. Being at the top of Machu Picchu made me feel like I was king of the world. Sharing the entire experience with a diverse group of people is phenomenal. Also, these are the same people who are on the same path as you. By surrounding yourself with motivated individuals similar to yourself, will only help you succeed in life.

After participating in this program, you'll honestly learn more than just helping others, you'll gain valuable life lessons as well. Hands down, the best 5 weeks of my life! You'll definitely come back with more than a handful of stories, I know I did.

How can this program be improved?
I would suggest start fundraising as a collective group earlier in the year. Perhaps think about changing to Delta Airlines instead of American Airlines.
Yes, I recommend this program
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frkyfrsh
10/10

Amazing Experience

Overall the most amazing experience I have had to date, a very memorable trip with amazing people. Building houses in Pallatanga was a very special week and I would never have gotten an experience like it without going on this trip. Seeing how happy and grateful the community was for our presence was a truly life altering experience and knowing that our group has made an impact in their lives is a great feeling, because they have made a huge impact on my life. Of course the traveling was fun also, hard to believe all the cool things we got to do, in such a short period of time, but it was all worth it. Be prepared to be 100% all the time, this is an experience of a lifetime I would recommend to anyone looking for an experience to get them out of their comfort zone, to meet amazing people and to do things they might never do again.

How can this program be improved?
Pack lots and lots of snacks! Ecuador time is very very different from North American time, and if you're like me and get Hangry, you will appreciate having some granola bars with you. Otherwise if you're thinking about this trip - WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR
Yes, I recommend this program
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traveller
10/10

The true Ecuaexperience

Help, Learn and Discover was an amazing experience. I decided to go on this trip, despite the high price, because it seemed to be the perfect combination of my interests. After my experience I can say that it was everything I expected and more and it was worth every penny. In short, it was the perfect mix of helping others, a unique educational experience, amazing sites, fun activities and topping it off with a group of the most unbelievable people I have ever met.
The staff bend over backwards to accommodate the students. I would wholeheartedly recommend this trip to anyone.

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...