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.

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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 220 reviews
  • Impact 9.7
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9.1
  • Value 9.7
  • Safety 9.7
Showing 61 - 75 of 220
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Kevin
10/10

BEST TIME OF MY LIFE, SERIOUSLY!

Simply put, my time in Ecuador with EcuaExperience was the greatest experience of my life! Everything about their three-part Help, Learn & Discover program was absolutely unforgettable and life changing.

I was completely humbled during the help component of the trip. It was an honour to wake up ready to work hard knowing that I was part of a project that was undoubtedly going refine the lives of the twenty beautiful families of Pujili who we helped build and fund twenty homes for.

Everything about the learn component of the trip was literally a once in a lifetime opportunity. All the things I learned, the procedures I saw, and the firsthand interactions I got with patients were incredible! I'm super thankful for these opportunities as they really motivated me and wholly solidified my commitment to pursue a career in medicine.

Last but not least, the discover portion of this trip was just unbelievable! I was completely blown away by the beauty that this tiny South American country had to offer. No matter where we were, I was sure to see extraordinary scenery that I could only ever dream of seeing back home. Not only was the country beautiful, but the activities were absolutely fantastic, ranging from horseback riding alongside wild mustangs to waterfall rappelling in the Amazon!

Last but not least, it wouldn't be fair to end this review without mentioning the amazing HLD staff. They were...phenomenal! 10/10 in organization, support, energy, entertainment, fun, etc! Thank you to all the tutors, leaders, and hotel staff. A thousand times thanks to Ruben, Megan, Juan, and Jose for a truly unforgettable experience!

Yes, I recommend
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Alyssa
10/10

Awesome People, Awesome Trip, Awesome Country!!

My time in Ecuador with HLD was amazing! Not only did I see so much of the country I also learned so much and saw first hand surgeries and operations that I would have never have been able to see otherwise. The staff with HLD is amazing and the trip is organized so well that the only thing you have to worry about is having a good time. Highly recommended for anyone interested in medicine and anyone looking for a volunteer trip that has a concrete goal and makes a huge difference in the communities in Ecuador.

Yes, I recommend
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Hayden
10/10

Best Month of My Life!

The experiences I have taken away from this trip have been life changing. I can't do justice to my time in Ecuador. Everyone has been amazing! Especially the leaders and, owners Juan and Jose Naranjo

How can this program be improved?
I can't imagine how to improve this program!!!
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Ashley
10/10

Ecuaexperience

The experience with HLD was unlike any that I have had before. The program offers a wide variety of experiences from shadowing doctors in a hospital to building houses in a local community. The company is run by a wonderful group of individuals who ensure that the trip is the best it can possibly be. Throughout the trip you come to know and love the country and its people. Overall, the trip exceded my expectations and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to volunteer abroad.

Yes, I recommend
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Jas
10/10

Help, Learn & Discover. Those Words Say It All!

It may sound like a cliche, but this trip has truly been a life changing experience. The 4 weeks weeks I have spend in Ecuador were diverse to say the least. There are three main components to this "Ecuaexperience", as the title suggests; Help, Learn & Discover. Before anything else, I would highly recommend this program to any students or individuals contemplating whether or not they want to partake in Ecuaexperience.

The first week, out of the four, consisted of shadowing doctors and learning various medical procedures; in other words the "Learn" aspect of the program. Understandably so, we were required to learn some basic anatomy and procedures before heading to the hospital. In my opinion learning about the surgeries/procedures before witnessing them allowed for a better understanding and also allowed us to ask questions to the extremely knowledgeable tutors that helped us along the way. Learning from a textbook is one thing, observing is a whole different matter. For example, observing a hip replacement surgery may seem like a smooth procedure, whereas in reality it is quite rough and requires a fair amount of brute force. In other words, practical observation provides an immersive experience that allows an individual to realize if they would like to pursue a similar career path. For some fellow students this experience reignited their passion to follow their dreams and work even harder in school to pursue it. I can say with confidence that this experience has impacted every individual along side me in one way or another!

The latter part of the second week along with the last five days consisted of us "Discovering" Ecuador itself. We had the opportunity to travel to various cities across Ecuador. We got to hike in the Amazon Forest and go tubing in the Napo River! We also got to tour around Quito and observe the main landmarks of the city. My personal favourite was Canoa Beach, which consisted of surfing, an "Amazing Race", and enjoying time with the life-long friends that were made throughout the amazing trip. Surely I am missing many other cities; there are many more places that a prospective individual will discover.

The backbone of the trip was definitely Pujili where we helped build houses and interacted with the community. I remember we were taken to the previous residence of the families that are going to move into the new houses. The living conditions of these previous houses are minimal to say the least. The mud and straw-roofed "house" consists of one room where they eat, sleep and do other essential activities such as cooking. Furthermore, proximity is a major problem. The schools are very far away that make attendance a hassle. By providing homes closer to schools ensures a higher probability of academic success. And I truly believe that the education of children is a leading cure of poverty. Getting a chance to improve circumstances for the families, especially the children, is an extremely rewarding experience.

Once again, I highly recommend this program to anyone that is interested in this amazing opportunity. Jose and Juan (frontrunners for this program) do a phenomenal job running the program as smoothly as could be. This has been an incredible trip, to say the least!

How can this program be improved?
The road trips were sometimes on the longer side. The trip to Canoa was around 6 hours, and others being a couple hours. However, these road trips allowed us to bond and create strong friendships along the way. Some of the best conversations with fellow volunteers were in that HLD bus! Furthermore, the scenery throughout Ecuador is stunning!
Yes, I recommend
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Holly
10/10

My Ecuaexperience = Life changing

This was my second summer joining HLD in Ecuador, and I couldn't have been happier! After my first life-changing experience with HLD I was eager to return. This summer we helped construct 20 additional homes in the community of Pujilí. It was truly rewarding to be able to spend our days working alongside the members of the community, building relationships with them despite the language barrier, and being a part of a sustainable solution in these peoples lives. Upon arrival one student from each group was elected treasurer and all of the fundraised money was given to them and anytime the group needed additional supplies at the work site the treasurer would travel with Juan or Jose (program directors) to the store to pick up supplies. All of the receipts were available to the students, which was very reassuring to know that all of the fundraised money went directly to the project.

Another aspect of this program that really stands out is the options for the LEARN portion of your Ecuaexperience (Pre-Med, Pre-Dentistry, Biomedical, and Volunteer). Personally I participated in the Pre-Medical option, where we spent time doing several different rotations through hospitals in Quito (including OR, ICU, pediatrics, radiology, ER, and sports medicine). As an aspiring physician, this gave my opportunities unlike any in North America. I was able to live the life of a physician, from doing rounds in the ICU and learning about each patient, to standing only a few feet away from the operating table, and gaining knowledge about the different types of medical imaging. This program helped me solidify my future career as a health care professional.

The discover portion of the trip was fantastic. It is rare that you actually get to experience so much of a country in only 28 days. One day was spent enjoying the natural hot springs, and the next we were hiking through the Amazon jungle. There are so many amazing adventures and cultural experiences packed into your 28 days!

This trip I also participated in the extra week trip to Peru. Our days were again filled with exciting adventures and authentic Peruvian experiences. Hiking Machu Picchu, sand boarding in the desert, flying over the Nazca lines, and trying many different Peruvian dishes...to name a few.

Both of my experiences with HLD have been life changing!!!

How can this program be improved?
I would not change a thing. Jose and Juan do a fantastic job of making sure that everything is organized well and there are rarely any issues. I would recommend this trip to anyone who wants to have the best experience of their life.
Yes, I recommend
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Rachel
10/10

Experience of a Lifetime!

Help, Learn, and Discover turned out to be the most life changing month of my life. I participated in the June 2015 pre-medical program as an aspiring medical student entering my third year of my undergraduate degree. I would highly recommend this program to any student considering a career path in the medical field.

The "Help" component of this trip involved a volunteer project where we partook in building 20 houses for families in Pujili, Ecuador. It was a great experience to work with the very welcoming members of the community to build the homes that they will eventually be living in. The most eye opening experience was seeing the current living conditions of these families. The community members that are selected for this program live in extreme poverty and the children often have to miss school for a multitude of reasons. It was amazing to see how our fundraised money and building efforts could change the lives of these families and allow the children to receive a better education. The work was definitely physically demanding and exhausting but the impact we were able to make on the lives of the community was very rewarding.

The "Learn" portion of the trip allowed us to shadow in many different areas of medicine. These areas included surgery, emergency, paediatrics, radiology, internal medicine, and sports medicine. We also learned advanced CPR, how to stitch, and how to draw blood. This program definitely consolidated my passion to pursue a career in medicine. The tutors that taught us during the medical rotations were absolutely incredible. They were very knowledgable, informative, and were always willing to answer any questions. I learned so much and experienced lots of hands on involvement during the week of medical rotations!

The "Discover" part of this trip did an excellent job of capturing the beauty and diversity of Ecuador. We explored areas in the highlands, rainforest, jungle, and the coast! All of the accommodations were excellent and I felt very safe in the hands of the amazing leaders Juan and Jose! Everyday was packed with amazing activities while still giving us enough time to relax and enjoy the company of the amazing people on the trip who become your family for the month. During our exploration, we were able to go waterfall rappelling, horseback riding, hiking, surfing, tubing, and so much more! There is no way to describe the beauty of the country and the amount of fun that we had as an HLD family.

I loved every second of this trip and highly recommend it to anyone interested in medicine. This program flawlessly captured the Help, Learn, and Discover aspects and is definitely a trip of a lifetime!

How can this program be improved?
I would not change a thing about this trip. If anything, the trip should be a few days longer to account for travel time between areas of the country.
Yes, I recommend
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Matthew
10/10

My EcuaExperience

If you are looking for a program that will allow you to volunteer abroad, while also giving you enough leeway to truly take in and appreciate the majesty of the Nation you are visiting, while having the added benefit of witnessing several major aspects of medicine (an optional portion of the trip, which I as an aspiring medical professional partook in), I think you may have just found the right one. Because of HLD, I had the once in a lifetime opportunity to visit Ecuador and experience much of the Country's abundant beauty. In a mere 28 days I was able to explore the incredible city of Quito (the highest Capital in the world), where I witnessed conquistador era architecture, and then travel from Quito around to other drastically different regions of the Country including the Amazon rainforest in the East, to the coastal town of Canoa in the far West.

What really mattered however, was being able to see the living conditions and interact with the everyday people of Ecuador. The experience was enlightening and gave me much greater insight into the going-ons of the world outside of my own privileged Country. When my group and I finally entered the small poor community of Pujili, where we would be volunteering, I felt an overwhelming sense of humility as the community pooled their resources together and held a welcome dinner for us volunteers. That first night we played with the children and prepared ourselves for the hard work ahead.

Basically, I would just like to say that every aspect of the trip was exceedingly phenomenal, from the medical rotations which affirmed my career goals, to the “Help” and “Learn” portions of the trip where I learned to truly appreciate my life and the opportunities granted to me within it. In my opinion, if you have the chance, definitely go for it and take a month out of your life so that you can do something great which you’ll always have to look back on.

How can this program be improved?
I found at times that things felt a little rushed, however I believe that this was a perfectly justifiable aspect of the trip, as the trip's organizers managed to fit in an incredibly amount of activities in our 28 days. So really, I have no complaints, I think the rapidness of the program was a necessity for it's greatness.
Yes, I recommend
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Chelsea
10/10

The Most Memorable Trip

The EcuaExperience program has so much diversity incorporated into it. Not only are you able to spend time learning indoors during medical rotations, but you have an abundant amount of time learning outdoors in different environments! Help, Learn, Discover says it all!

The most rewarding part was working with the community members in Pujili. As volunteers, we have the ability to interact with the community, to get to know them, and work alongside them to build sustainable housing that includes access to better water and sanitation. Not only that, but I was able to see how the community served as a safety net for the families in it. I work with non-profit organizations within my community, but seeing our fundraised money gave us the ability to have direct knowledge of how it is spent. Oftentimes, we don't see this when we donate to NGOs but it was reassuring to know that it goes where it is necessary and that all information about the fundraised money was open to us all.

The tutors accompanying us during the medical rotations were knowledgeable and were able to explain procedures in detail. The rotations were very comprehensive in addition to the reading content given to us as the tutors would ask us questions. Students are able to experience firsthand the varieties of specializations in the medical field whether it is in the OR, ER, paediatrics, radiology, and sports medicine. Skills such as drawing blood, stitches, CPR, and physical examinations were practiced as well. I highly recommend this program for those interested in the medical field because you learn so much and are given the means to practice the skills taught to you!

I learned very quickly that Ecuador has so much to offer! We had the opportunity to travel to many different cities and explore them. Activities include hiking, canoeing, waterfall rappelling, tubing, surfing, and horseback riding - there was never a dull moment. You get to see the breathtaking views of the Cotopaxi mountains, get lost in the Canoa beach waves, and climb to the towers of a tall cathedral. Anybody who experiences Ecuador in this way will fall in love with the country and all that it has to offer - I know that I did!

Everyone is welcoming, energetic, and friendly! There is a quote in the kitchen area at the 593 Hostel Boutique that reads "Enter as strangers, leave as friends" and the EcuaExperience creates strong friendships in merely 28 days. I take back with me so many memories of the trip and you can't help but want to return to Ecuador again.

How can this program be improved?
For the long drives, the students attending should, before arriving in Ecuador, collectively create a playlist to play! Otherwise, I wouldn't change anything else!
Yes, I recommend
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Lorena
10/10

Life Changing Experience

Ecuaexperience is the type of trip that you can only fully appreciate once you have participated in it. The three componente of Help, Learn and Discover were executed perfectly and everyday we had a list of activities that we would take part in.

The volunteering Help component of the trip was a very humbling experience. The community that we were able to work along side was extremely deserving and welcomed everyone with open arms. I had the privilage of being the groups treasurer which gave me the opportunity to first hand buy all the needed supplies and essential components that each house needed with our fundraised money. Every single penny was used for the houses and nothing more. The work was hard and long but regardless we all came out smiling everyday. The workers that help build the homes are actually the people receiving the homes, so they are extremely hard working and very patient with us considering the fact that most of us had no experience. We also had the oppurtunity to see the current living conditions of the family and that was extremely eye opening. These people are very deserving of everything and more and it brings me great joy to be able to take part in making in impacting their life.

The Learn portion completely surpassed my expectations. We were able to take part in 5 rotations including OR, ER, radiology, peadiactrics, sports medicine and activities such as infernal medicine, learning how to stitch, advanced CPR, and drawing blood. During the rotations we were assinged to different tutors. They extremely knowledgable in everything, great teachers and easy to get along with. We also got to interact with the patients and even speak to some of the doctors which I was not expecting at all. This portion definitely helped affirm my desire to work in the Health field and I would highly recommend it for any one considering to join it as well.

Ecuador is a beautiful country and the Discover portion did a fanstastic job at showing it to us. The scenery is breath taking anywhere you look and the color of green is endless. Each city that we got to visit had so much to offer and everyday you wish you could stay longer. The hotels we stayed at throughout the trip completely surpassed my expectations and were worth every penny. Canoa beach was my personal favorite.

Overall the trip was an amazing experience and I feel blessed having the oppurtunity to have taken part in such a great program. You come out a completely different person and I'm forever grateful for that.

How can this program be improved?
I loved every single thing about the program and would change nothing a bout it.
Yes, I recommend
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Augusto
10/10

An experience that has everything

I did the medical program in June for 28 days and it was the perfect amount of time with the perfect amount of experiences. The three components of volunteering, seeing the country, and participating in medical rotations were expertly organised and executed very well. During the whole trip we were constantly being looked after, but not in a smothering sense, we were still very free to explore, but I felt very safe as well. During the "discover" portion of the trip I hiked a portion of the Amazon, went tubing in the Napo river (amazing!!), enjoyed a relaxing night in the Amazon jungle, enjoyed a relaxing resort stay at Canoa beach, and saw so much wild life, culture, great sight seeing, and hit so many tourist hot spots. It was amazingly comprehensive! As for the learn portion, 3 participants were paired with a senior medical student and they taught us very neat things, gave us great resources, took us on the wards, let us interact with patient, and see incredible surgeries. I was able to watch a brain biopsy (so cool!!!), and the students and staff were so accommodating and awesome . Lastly during the volunteer portion we helped build 20 homes for families in Pujili. It was really tough work, and I am very glad I did it. It really put into perspective what I have at home made me really grateful for it all. We worked alongside the people who would be living in the homes and we all got to know each other and really bonded. The kids are so cute and playful. This was such an amazing experience. I think anyone considering a medical career and wanting to see what the world has to offer should definitely consider this program. Out of everyone in my group (we were only 12, but other months had up to 40) we were all raving about how great this experience was. So many experiences, and at the end of everything, these other participants become your best friends. It was sad to leave. In short, amazing program!

How can this program be improved?
This program is great. Unfortunately, due to the nature of seeing so much that the country has to offer, there may be some long shuttle times, but hey every trip goes by with great company!
Yes, I recommend
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Thahsin
10/10

The best volunteering trip for post-secondary students!

I did the Pre-med program on May 2014 and I had the best time of my life. It was such an unique experience that changed the way I viewed everything in life. I especially enjoyed the medical rotations because we got to see very cool surgeries in person and learn so much. It is something that isn't available for us undergrad students here in Canada.

The volunteer portion was also amazing. We got to work along side the Pujili community to build 21 homes for them. We got to see how they used to live in poor conditions which made me appreciate all the little things in life. They are one of the most kind and generous people that I have ever met in my life. They always had so much to give even though they had very little for themselves. We bonded very well with them during our stay in Pujili and the kids there were adorable!

I highly suggest every post-secondary student to give this program a try because I had the best time of my entire life! I highly suggest all pre-med and pre-dental students to go on this trip since there's so much you can learn and get a head start on your medical career!!

How can this program be improved?
There is nothing I would change about this program because I thought it was perfect for me! Every single day is perfectly organized in a way that allows students to get the most out of their day. Each day is very eventful which is what makes this program very exciting!
Yes, I recommend
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Caitlyn
10/10

The best trip I could have ever chosen to do!

As a person skeptical about volunteer trips, I was wary of a trip that sounded as good as HLD did. When doing research, no trips came close to offering what Ecuaexperience could and I was slightly nervous. These worries, however, proved to be irrelevant when I arrived in country and had the experience of my lifetime.

I participated in the BioMed 1 program in May, choosing to do so because it combined the best of volunteering, adventure and medical rotations. During the first two weeks, we had the opportunity to explore Quito and do our medical rotations. The students were separated into smaller groups and assigned different rotations with different tutors each day. I don't think I've ever learned more in such a short amount of time as I did with those tutors. Each tutor excelled in teaching and providing us with insight into the medical field. I saw amazing procedures and had the opportunity to discuss the difficulties and rewards of working in the medical field with Juan and the other tutors. I truly appreciated how much everyone cared about our experience, and how much Juan tried to accommodate all the things we wanted to see and do in the hospital.

After my medical rotations, we travelled to Pujili to do our volunteer portion of the trip. Again, any worries I had about the authenticity of our work were eliminated once we arrived. We worked hard alongside the community and every penny we raised was put towards the construction of the houses. One of the most amazing parts of the trip was seeing the joy and appreciation that the community had towards us. There was also difficulty in seeing the original homes of the community, and the conditions in which they lived. When Juan and Jose spoke to us and discussed why we do this, and how much it means to the families to have solid houses, or to have their kids closer to school, I don't think anyone left unchanged. I genuinely believe that HLD has a huge impact not only on the lives of poor communities, but also on the students participating on the trip.

As a part of BioMed, I had the opportunity to go to the Galapagos and was so excited to visit the islands that are so thoroughly discussed in my university classes. I was floored by the activities that we got to do, from hiking, kayaking and seeing the natural wildlife of the Galapagos! The entirety of the week spent there was amazing and unforgettable.

Additionally, I did the additional week to Peru. This experience was amazing, Jose really went out of his way to make our experience as incredible as possible. As a smaller group, we got really close to one another and had so much fun! All the tours we did were really cool, specifically noting Machu Picchu, the Nazca lines, visiting ancient ruins and travelling to Lake Titicaca.

As a whole, this experience was beyond amazing. Every place we went, tour guide that we had and opportunity that we were given went far beyond expectations. While, I would have loved spending more time with each experience, I think that this trip was the best possible combination of helping, learning and discovering. Jose and Juan truly care about the experience we have and go above and beyond to improve the trip in any way for us. I cannot thank them enough for giving me this opportunity to be on the trip!

How can this program be improved?
I think that this program offered the best experience possible. Any limitations from differing portions of the trip were far outweighed by the overall experience.
Yes, I recommend
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Karina
10/10

Bio-Med: Best time of my life - no joke

This trip completely exceeded any expectations I had and surprised me with a whole lot more then I could have imagined! My time with HLD was jam-packed with activities that allowed us to really experience what Ecuador has to offer. Everything was so well organized and we always had a great time. Jose and Juan are phenomenal. For those interested in med, the things you will learn and see during your medical rotations are unlike anything you could have in Canada during an undergraduate degree. I felt so privileged to be getting private courses by extremely knowledgeable tutors and learning hands on in the field. As for the volunteer portion of the trip, I wish I could have stayed longer. We worked hard and for long hours and it was so rewarding at the end of each day. Seeing those kids being so happy with so little, and their parents so appreciative of our help, it was an amazing experience that I will never forget. The fundraiser money really goes straight to buying supplies so it was cool to see the process and see how we made a difference in these peoples lives.

How can this program be improved?
I can't see anything that could be improved. 10 years of HLD seems to have led to a perfectly organized program.
Yes, I recommend
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Sophie
10/10

Best month of my life!

As I knew little as to what the day to day activities included I was a little unsure of what to expect upon arriving in Ecuador, however within the first hour of arriving I knew I was in for a trip of a lifetime. I am confident to say that my time spent in Ecuador will be some of my most cherished memories, and I was definitely not ready to come home after my month there went by so quickly. I would recommend this program to absolutely every student I know!

I participated in the Bio-Medical program in May of 2015. I think one of the most compelling parts about this program that really sets it aside from other organizations is the diversity of things we did on this trip, all falling under the different categories; help, learn, and discover. For the help portion, I can't begin to explain how rewarding it was to work along side the community building houses. It was hard work and challenging at times, but being able to create a bond with the community was really an eye opening experience for me. The learn portion of the trip really exceeded my expectations.The med tutors were amazing, always ready to explain procedures and answer questions. One of my favorite parts of the trip was shadowing the doctors and watching numerous surgeries! Finally, the discover portion was unlike anything I could have imagined. Highlights included waterfall repelling, horse back riding, surfing, snorkeling with sharks and sea turtles, hiking through the jungle, and tubing down the amazon river.

All of these different components made for an unforgettable month, however what really made the trip extra special were the owners, Juan and Jose. They really go above and beyond to make sure that every student feels comfortable and safe while enjoying their trip. By the end of the trip, both the leaders and the fellow students felt more like family than friends!

How can this program be improved?
The only way to improve this program would be to provide a bit more information before hand so students can pack efficiently. However I had zero complaints once actually in Ecuador!
Yes, I recommend

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...