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 61 - 75 of 226
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Stephanie
10/10

Amazing, Simply Amazing!!

Ecuador was simply amazing, a country with diversity and vibrancy. As a first time traveler the Bio- premedical program was a great experience, the first week was an intensive week of shadowing doctors and learning the key skills by medical students. They were valuable and informative sessions that only ignited and propelled my curiosity in medicine.

The second week consisted of volunteering in the town of Pujili where I worked with the construction workers and fellow volunteer's to build the walls of the houses. We also explored the various diverse parts of Ecuador, including the beautiful Cotopaxi volcano.

The third and final week included the biology part of my program with exploring the diverse Galápagos Islands. Every part of the Galápagos crawled with beautiful and majestic wildlife, it truly was heaven on earth.
These experIence and 28 days packed the best parts of my life, not a single day that I did not feel challenged. The trip takes you out of your comfort zone takes you to amazing places, allows you to explore amazing things.

Nothing compares, it's simply amazing

Ecuador is truly an amazing and welcoming country a place that's has changed my life forever, the amazing friends and family that I have made that will last a lifetime. From the volunteer work to exploring the diverse Galápagos islands, these experiences I will treasure forever.

Thank you HLD for a phenomenal experience!!

How can this program be improved?
Everything was amazing.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Anisha
9/10

Absolutely Amazing

They all say that traveling in a foreign country is memorable- HLD DOES capture that essence beautifully. It's a trip that helps you discover the country of Ecuador and yourself- through hiking in the Amazon, repelling down waterfalls and volunteering in Pujili.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Tisha
10/10

The experience of a lifetime... and then some!!

Where do I even begin? Help, Learn & Discover provided me with the best summer of my life thus far. The amount that is packed into the program's 28 days is beyond what I could have ever imagined.

People ask what your favourite part of the trip is and you just want to say ALL of it. There's really no experience offered quite like it.

The first component of the trip being "Help" gave us the opportunity to assist in the construction of 20 house builds. Some of the most rewarding days were spent with the wonderful people of this community. I was so overwhelmed by the joy and gratitude these people have. To say it was a humbling experience would be an understatement. Prepare to have your hearts swell for the community, and for the children that cling to your sides.

I was part of the Pre med group, so the "Learn" aspect involved shadowing local doctors in both public and private hospitals. The tutors are absolutely brilliant and you're thrown right into the midst of it all. We saw unreal surgeries, and had so much knowledge poured into us, it was amazing. If medicine is something you're even considering this will SEAL THE DEAL.

With just the two components above, I feel as though it's already well worth the price of the trip. BUT THERE'S MORE. We also got to "Discover" Ecuador. This involved an authentic culinary experience, tubing down the amazon river, rappelling down waterfalls, riding gondolas across the valley, hikes through the jungle, walking tour around the city, swinging at the end of the world, learning to surf, lounging on the beautiful beaches, horse back riding by volcanoes, and so much more. There's a lot to see, and HLD makes sure you see all the best parts. There's no way I would have been able to see half of the things that I did if I had been on my own.

The staff was incredible...12/10. Jose and Juan will provide you with nonstop laughs and the best opportunity imaginable.

Thank you HLD for a summer I'll never forget.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Savannah
10/10

Best way for a student to see Ecuador!

For everything that I learned and tried for the first time on this trip, the price of HL&D is more than worth it. We traveled everywhere from the mountains and volcanoes to the countryside and the beach and stayed at all the nicest and most authentic accommodations along the way. The program owners and managers are so invested in their cause and in their volunteers, I had fun and felt safe at every stop along the way. Thanks to HL&D for a great summer!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Penny
10/10

Amazing Trip

I did not know what to expect on this trip but it exceeded my expectations in all areas. I was very impressed with the medical portion of the trip. We were allowed amazing access to the hospitals especially the surgery. I was always busy and I never felt that I was just sitting around.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Hojung
10/10

want to make a difference? HL&D is a good place to start

My four-week stay in Ecuador was amazing. Simply unforgettable. Learning to suture, diagnosing REAL patients, bargaining at the Otavalo Market, touring the city of Quito, partying on a party bus, being in a surgery room, tubing down the Amazon, hiking in the Amazon in Misahualli, casually swinging at the end of the world in Banos, building homes in Pujili, braiding little girls' hair in Pujili, playing with the little kids in Pujili, dancing to El taxi on the bus, learning to surf in Canoa, watching the sunset every night in Canoa, winning the Amazing Race with my amazing team, visiting the Chocolate Factory in Mindo, paragliding in Canoa, meeting great people and great friends, visiting the homes of the families we were building houses for, horseback riding in Cotopaxi, and lots of thinking about life were all accomplished in four weeks.
Expect lots of laughter and fun.

With that, I would like to thank Ecuaexperience for their hardwork to ensure that each and every student was having a great time. Thank you!

How can this program be improved?
Longer volunteer period would be awesome!
Yes, I recommend this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 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...