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 211 - 225 of 226
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AT
8/10

Ecuador 2012!

As corny as it sounds, this trip truly changed my life and my outlook on life. I'll break it down into the three sections

1. HELP: This was amazing. While we were there, we had great accommodations in Pallatanga (we had a good place to sleep in and had hot water). What I really liked about this was that we had a lot of chances to interact with the community. They were there with us while we were building, they had a welcome and farewell party for us and we had chances to play soccer with them too. This was the part that changed my outlook on life because these people were so generous and loving even with what little they had in material things. I wish we could have spent more time in the community!

2. LEARN: The med rotations were cool because it's an experience you're unlikely to have anywhere else. You don't have to have any previous training or medical experience/knowledge at all. Some cool things my group saw included a surgery and a birth. It was also cool to spend time with the med student mentors, learn CPR and stitching.

3. DISCOVER: Touring Ecuador was great! We saw lots of waterfalls and different towns. We had a chance to surf too which was a lot of fun.

If you have the chance, do an extra week trip. I really regret not going to Peru!

How can this program be improved?
My critiques:
1. I wish we had 1 day for doing historical sight-seeing (ie. churches etc.)
2. Like other reviews have said, there were issues with our airlines. We had lost baggage and our travel itinerary was almost completely different from our actual travel routes.
3. More organization/communication with the company regarding clothing orders
Yes, I recommend this program
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jregnault
10/10

Best five weeks of my life.

I had an incredible time in Ecuador. The experience was a fantastic blend of home-building as volunteers, exposure to the medical field and to the system in a developing country, and of course plenty of recreation. I was able to lead and to follow, to share my skills and to make an immediate, visible, and lasting difference in the lives of the people I met. The medical component was engaging and educational and it reaffirmed my passion for medicine. We toured from hot springs and farmland to mountains and beaches and jungle and cloud forests, sometimes in the same day. As a group you move from urban to rural areas and experience the culture gaps. The hikes to waterfalls were exhausting and invigorating and I went hang-gliding and learned to surf with one-on-one instruction from a pro! If you can, don't hesitate to take an extra week in Peru or the Gallapagos, or try the new one in Argentina. The food ranged from incredible to not so hot, but it never mattered and I was never sick. I met lots of incredible people and never for a second regretted my decision to go. I would definitely go back.

How can this program be improved?
I didn't know what to expect until I was on the ground doing it. Make sure you talk to your leaders and fundraising group at home to figure out what to put in your pack. Don't worry about buying gifts until you find the perfect one, there're tons. and don't buy "Alpaca wool" until you tour the farm in Peru, the other stuff is acrylic.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
pastHLDstudent
10/10

OH MY DOG!

To all the amazing people at HLD, and all the volunteers that made my month in Ecuador the best, I give you my most sincere and appreciative slow clap. Thank you so much!
To everyone and anyone considering this trip, it is definitely worth it! It truly is the whole ecuaexperience!

My experiences working with the community, sharing the excitement and hope for better days with them, and being able to feel like i really made a difference were life changing.
The insight into the different aspects of medicine was more than I expected. The medical students were fantastic at providing information, getting us into surgeries ect, and translating what was going on, or asking our questions in spanish. What I was able to see and learn was truly amazing and eyeopening.

The adventure tour was some of the most fun a person could have with a group of friends in Ecuador. From the trips and activities in the Amazon jungle, to the beaches and surfing in the ocean, it was an action packed 11 days of awesomeness.

This program does it right! They make it their goal for you to have the best time possible, and trust me it's not hard to have the time of your life. The people you meet on this trip become instant lifetime friends and make the trip that much better. Would recommend this trip to anyone I know, and I will never forget my time in Ecuador.

PS: Ruban, keep ridin dirty my friend!

How can this program be improved?
Bus rides can be long, but thats just how it is.
Yes, I recommend this program
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TRUMPETMASTER4900
10/10

Great People, Great Trip

This was truly the most unique experience of my lifetime. Imagine touring in a foreign country. How would you travel? What would you do? Most likely you'll visit a fraction of the major attraction sites without getting the first hand experience of what LIFE is like in that country. You will just be a tourist. HLD gave me an in-depth view of the common life of Ecuadorians and their struggles. It allowed me to actually see first hand the culture and how it has structured the people of this nation. I can say that during this trip, I was part Ecuadorian and to be able to leave the tourist's shoes and participate in community building gave me the feeling of being appreciated.

How can this program be improved?
The food. Sorry but it was very dull. But that's not in your hands.
Yes, I recommend this program
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bhandal
10/10

First taste of Global Health

As someone who now works in the realm of global health, I would attribute this program with planting the first seed. Although I had reservations about participating due to the ethical issues associated with 'volun-tourism' in the South, I went anyways, and was happily surprised. This program is different from others since the program co-ordinators are Ecuadorian locals who seem to really understand how the country/culture functions. I would definitely suggest this program for students wishing to get a taste of what it feels like to work abroad, since there is such a good balance of work and play.

How can this program be improved?
I wish that we were given some language training prior to the program. I wish that I had been able to communicate more effectively with the people and patients, especially when we were in a rural and public hospital setting.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Jay
10/10

Life Changing Experience! Would do it again in a heartbeat!

The medical rotations were super rewarding. Really made me realize that i want to study medicine in the future.

Great sightseeing and tour component - really get to see every side of Ecuador.

The bonding experience with everyone in your month is incomparable. Made friends to last a lifetime :)

How can this program be improved?
DO NOT fly with American Airlines. Ever.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Jessica
9/10

The True _Ecuaexperience_

During my time in Ecuador, I kept a journal (something I highly suggest if you go by the way), and every day I took the time to write some of the new things that I learned. Here are some of the main things I took away from my trip to Ecuador:

1) I really felt I made a difference volunteering. Although the volunteering in Ecuador building houses for a small village was the main (and by far the funnest) part of the whole trip, I would say I became a volunteer basically right after the first meeting after receiving notice that I was accepted into the program. The first thing we got to do was create fundraising plans to raise money in order to buy the materials we would need to build the houses with. I served as the treasurer for my group, and so I personally got to see that the money we raised went directly towards making payments to the various shops and vendors in Ecuador that helped supply us with goods (like, right down to actually giving the money to the shopkeepers in person). It was also gratifying to see a place that was originally bare all of a sudden have brightly colored houses standing there by the end of the summer.

2) I made lasting friendships, not only with my fellow group members who did the trip with me, but also with some of the local adults and children who lived in Ecuador. To this day, I still keep in touch with people who now live in the houses we helped to build, and it's lots of fun to exchange stories with them about what's going on in our lives and hear about how they're doing! In addition, some of my group members are now my closest friends--I don't know, something about spending a whole month together and having to endure doing medical rotations and volunteering together really built a group mentality that I enjoyed. Above all, the feeling of being in a group and accomplishing something that we all love together is a great feeling.

3) I got to witness just how diverse a country like Ecuador is within itself. I don't think I've ever been on a trip in which you can travel to mountains, beaches, hot springs, rainforest (the Amazon!!!), farmland, and large cities all at the same time. It was certainly an amazing experience going to all these difference places! One thing about Ecuador that was a new experience for me was the altitude--sometimes the altitude changes we experienced while we were travelling by bus were significant enough that our water bottles would concave or slightly inflate!

4) I gained insight into the nature of the medical field. Before this trip, I had a thought that I might want to do medicine when I graduate, but after this trip, I now know that I WANT to do something in medicine when I graduate. While we were in Quito doing medical rotations and taking lessons, I loved every second of all the hard work we were tasked with. The medical rotations were some of the coolest things I've ever gotten the chance to do. We got to get a glimpse of basically all the main fields in medicine, including ER, OR, Pediatrics, radiology, Sports Medicine, and Internal Medicine. In addition, during the week of medical rotations we were split into groups and given a group research project, and I learned A LOT from doing that project. The coolest part by far was that the project was in the form of a patient case study, and so I got to experience firsthand what it would be like to diagnose a patient. Absolutely the coolest experience ever.

How can this program be improved?
Be prepared for long bus rides--they're really the only way to get from place to place in Ecuador, but trust me, the bus rides are worth it when you step off the bus and find yourself in a new place for new adventures!
Yes, I recommend this program
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hldpaststudent
10/10

Best Experience of a Lifetime

This trip became the best month of my life by far. From the crazy activities that created endless friendships to the unexplainable feeling you achieve by changing the lives of countless local families in need, this trip is an emotional roller coaster in the best ways possible. I couldn't have expected any more from what I got out of this experience. Nothing could ever compare to how this trip could change an individual.

How can this program be improved?
The only problem we all faced were baggage issues with our flights. Definitely change airline companies and don't fly with American Airlines.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Past
10/10

LOVED IT

Everyday there were activities going on that involved the group. The experience was so great and I loved it. I would do it again in a second. Building houses was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done! Also the medical rotations I got to take part in furthered my interest and drive to attain a medical career, however if you don't want to go to med school this program would still be absolutely amazing. I went down with an open mind for the program and I absolutely loved it and made some new life long friends. All the leaders and organizers of the program are enthusiastic and fun, they helped to make the trip even better! Absolutely no regrets about doing it and I would recommend it to everyone!

Yes, I recommend this program
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R
10/10

Trip of a Lifetime

Everyone was amazing on this trip. I went in not quite knowing what to expect and had the most rewarding trip! It was fun, educational and we helped such amazing people - totally worth it!

How can this program be improved?
Most rewarding, educational, fun experience I've ever had.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
jszakacs
10/10

Baggage

The trip was fantastic but the fact that American Airlines struggled with delivering bags on time for several volunteers, I say fly with Delta from now on!

How can this program be improved?
I wouldn't change anything.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Suvan
9/10

Awesome

Travelling to Ecuador had to have been one of the greatest experiences of my life. Everyone was friendly, the program was well planned and I definitely got way more out of the trip than I expected. I still remember the feeling of giving away the houses to the people of Pallatanga. I was so grateful I had the opportunity to have such a positive impact on these peoples' lives. HLD is an awesome program and I would definitely recommend it to anyone.

How can this program be improved?
I wish we could have seen some of the other places the other groups had but besides that it was perfect.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Sbrowne
10/10

Life Changing Experience, without a doubt.

As a pre-medical student, I found that this program was perfect for me. It inspired me to continue my pursuit of medicine by giving me the opportunity to work in both public and private hospitals. It set the stage so that I could learn about the cultures of South America, and solidified my interest in helping others on an international level. I always felt comfortable and safe, and by working closely with peers, leaders and the owners of the program everyday, the atmosphere was always positive. Highlights: scrubbing in on surgeries, giving away homes to families, generating life-long friendships.

How can this program be improved?
Not much, I've been on many volunteer programs, this one fit very well with what I wanted to do. The plane rides are long, but it is worth it!
Yes, I recommend this program
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Ella
10/10

The real experience!

The staff did an amazing job at making sure everyone's personal needs were met- they definitely went above and beyond to cater to everyone! The group had a diverse set of personal needs- from food allergies/preferences to rooming preferences and I felt like all of my needs were covered! Furthermore, I felt safe with all of the leaders, the CEOs, tour-guides, the bus-driver, etc. They really look out for you!

In terms of their program- they definitely covered all that they offer! There is nothing hidden here. They give you exactly what they advertise- the Experience and the chance to help, to learn, and to discover!
I went in July on the pre-med program with the additional Machu Picchu week and I got all that I expected plus more! I was able to help a community in Pallatanga, Ecuador and it is an experience that goes beyond what words could express. I came in expecting to give to the community but they taught me so much more. And the CEOs were there the whole way- guiding us and teaching us how the community works. We worked hand-in-hand with the community and used materials that were sustainable/worked for their lifestyle. This was important for me... knowing that the CEOs came in and talked to the community beforehand... they had discussed what the community needs and what materials would best suit their lifestyles.
I definitely got to learn as well! In the pre-med program, we were given a Medical Booklet that we were required to study in its entirety. We then got to go into rotations in both a private and public institution. The group of us were split into different shifts and got to work intimately with Ecuadorian pre-med students/other doctors. We got to witness operations, had ER day and night shifts, OB/GYN day and night shifts, and were taught an immense amount of techniques, skills, etc. along the way. There were several work shops as well- we even got to learn/practise several sutures! The pre-med students were extremely helpful as well! They gave you a real picture of what it is like to work in the hospital and study at the same time.
And I discovered. I hiked through the jungle at night in Misahualli where the group of us were instructed to turned off our flashlights and listen to the orchestra of creatures that came alive in the dark. I remember looking up and seeing an unreal sky filled with stars (having both the northern and southern hemisphere stars.) These moments are irreplaceable and of course, priceless. I remember hiking up to the top of Huayna Picchu and staring out at the surrounding mountains- feeling so small and humbled. I was given the opportunity to surf in Canoa and I was able to swim in the ocean off the coast of Salinas.

I helped, I learned, and I discovered.
And I couldn't have done any of this without Ecuaexperience-HLD and all of the people that make it what it is. You can tell that this is their passion and that they love doing what they are doing. And THAT is what makes this the ultimate experience... the people that can not be replaced- the people of this program that dedicate their lives to giving you the real Ecuaexperience.

Yes, I recommend this program
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KVS
10/10

best trip of my life

This was the best trip I have ever gone to. The medical shadowing was very educational - as were our case studies. Our volunteer project in Pallatanga helped many families get homes they could not previously afford. Also, the tours of Ecuador (hiking through the jungle, waterfall rappelling, seeing the equator, surfing in Canoa, stay at resort in Salinas) were beyond what I expected. This is a trip of a life time! Jose and Juan take very good care of their students!

How can this program be improved?
to spend even more time in Ecuador :)
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...