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 76 - 90 of 220
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Matthew
10/10

Experience of a Lifetime

When I initially signed up for this program I didn't really understand what kind of amazing trip I was about to go on, and what incredible people I would meet. It started with the group meetings with other Vancouverites who were going on the trip. The fundraising we did and coordination at times was difficult, and with little fundraising experience I wasn't entirely sure what I was doing, but there was so much more gratification knowing that all the funds raised were raised by us. The leaders in Vancouver were also useful sources of information about the trip and fundraising, and helped us every step of the way.

When I landed in Ecuador, it was then that I realized I was going to experience a unique, culturally rich and beautiful country. And our tour around Ecuador really solidified this idea, from the coastal and sunny town of Canoa, to the Amazon Rainforest, to the Cotopaxi (one of the world's highest active volcanoes). But the two most rewarding portions of the trip for me was the volunteering in Pujili, and the medical rotations in Quito. During the volunteering, we worked alongside the community and formed bonds with the children, even taking them to a movie, something novel for the majority of them. The work was hard and dirty, but seeing where our fundraised money was going and what we were doing for this people, the new lives we were helping give them, made it all worth it. In the medical rotations, we toured various wards of the hospitals with medical tutors (5th and 6th year medical students in Quito) and shadowed doctors in the OR. The tutors were extremely knowledgeable about each subject and were easy and friendly to talk to. We learned a whirl wind of information, from both inside and outside rotation learning, but I feel that I came away with a much better understanding of what it means to be a doctor and what it means to work in different wards of the hospital.

All together this trip was life changing. The people I met, the friends I made, and everything I learned are things I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I am very thankful I was able to go on this trip.

How can this program be improved?
If we could have had a bit more time doing the medical rotations and a bit more time volunteering.
Yes, I recommend
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Sum
10/10

Best experience of my life!!!

This year is the second time I have joined HLD to help build homes for underprivileged families! We returned to build another 20 homes in the village of Pujili and the experience was just as rewarding as my first!!! The homes we were building were for new families and I experienced community interaction to a whole new level!! Despite a language barrier between both the students and the community, both cant help but become close to one another as we both worked extremely hard this month for the future homes of this community! Ecuaexperience is constantly evolving and I noticed many changes in regard to the destinations we visited as HLD are taking students to newer, more exotic and wonderful locations!! I would highly recommend this program anyone and everyone as you will receive the most eye opening, rich and rewarding experience of your life, for both new and past students!

How can this program be improved?
I would not change anything about this program as everything always went according to plan and there were rarely any hiccups or unexpected changes! The owners, Juan and Jose, ensure everything is on schedule and that all events are properly organized.
Yes, I recommend
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Natasha
10/10

Experience of a Lifetime!

This month spent in Ecuador was the best month of my life. It balanced education, adventure, and social aspects perfectly. Through the BioMed program, I was able to get first-hand healthcare experiences that are not possible in Canada. I gained so much knowledge about both specific patient care, and about the general fields of medicine that will help me in choosing a career path. The galapagos was definitely a highlight of the trip, from hiking to snorkelling and kayaking we were always busy and seeing SO much wildlife! The volunteering portion was incredible, however it would have been nice to have more days volunteering than what we did (as part of BioMed).
Overall, the memories from this trip will stay with me forever, of this amazing place and the people I got to share it with! Ecuador is an beautiful country that everyone should get the chance to experience, and HLD is a perfect way to see it all! I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, but it exceeded by expectations and I highly recommend this program.

How can this program be improved?
If I could change one thing it would be that we got to volunteer for longer.
Yes, I recommend
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Connor
10/10

Best month of my life

There was constantly an activity or experience to be had. Rarely any breaks. It felt as if six months of experiences were packed into one month. The medical rotations were extremely in depth. It´s impossible to find that type of first hand experience in Canada. The friends that are made on this program become lifelong friends because of all the experiences you share. The travel covers everything from the jungle to the mountains to the ocean.

How can this program be improved?
If I had to change one thing about this program it would be to have a little bit more information in advance to be able to pack more appropriately.
Yes, I recommend
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Jonathan
10/10

Great experience

This program was eye opening for me! It really gave me the opportunity to see how people live in parts of the world other than Canada. The fact that the owners Juan and Jose were involved in the trip made it a far better experience. The med rotations were very interesting, the volunteering was very rewarding and the tour portion was a blast!

How can this program be improved?
Information could be provided earlier as to when flights should be booked.
Yes, I recommend
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Yasmine
9/10

This Trip was Crazy

In one day on Help Learn and Discover, we learned how to do examinations of the head neck and thorax, had a Spanish lesson, and ended with a dance party on a bus driving around the city. This trip gives oppourtunities to do things that I would have never have thought I would be able to do in my life. Every day is planned to make sure the participants can get the most out of the trip socially, culturally and in terms of medical education. I am so thankful to have been able to be a participant and would recommend it to any student.

Yes, I recommend
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Alyssa
10/10

Trip of a lifetime !

This trip surpassed by expectations in every way possible. I was super excited when I heard about this amazing trip at my university, but no amount of information or presentations prepared me for the amazing adventures and life long friendships that I experienced during this trip.

I participated in the Pre-Medical Program for May 2015. I was blown away by the variety of things we did in 1 month. Some of the highlights during the "discover" part of the trip included horseback riding around a volcano, waterfall repelling, tubing (right to the doorstep of our hotel), surfing, hiking in the jungle, and much more. The one week of medical rotations gave me first hand experience in a hospital setting and the med tutors who we shadowed taught me more than I could have learned in any university course! One of the most life-changing parts of the trip was helping to build houses in the community. Each day was challenging and filled with hard work, but getting the chance to bond with the locals made it 100 percent worth it. The kids of community were the happiest, most loving children I had ever met and we quickly grew close with them, despite the English-Spanish language barrier.

Although every activity was amazing, the people are part of what made this trip so special. The owners of HLD, Juan and Jose, go out of their way to get to know each participant and to ensure that every activity goes perfectly. The leaders were amazing and the friends I made felt much more like family. I would recommend HLD to anyone wanting to travel Ecuador!

How can this program be improved?
Once I arrived in Ecuador, I have zero complaints about how the trip was run - it was more amazing than I could have ever imagined. The only thing I would change prior to the trip would be making the application deadline for the May group earlier than it currently is. After talking to fellow peers on the trip, many of us felt that we did not have enough time to fundraise with the pressure of studying for final exams. Had we met with our university groups and leaders sooner, there would have been more time to plan larger fundraising events.
Yes, I recommend
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Caitlyn
10/10

A Trip To Never Forget

As a student with little information prior to going on the trip I had no idea what to expect and put all my trust into the program and the people behind it. I'm glad to say I went on this trip regardless of my knowledge prior to, it was honestly the best 5 weeks I could of asked for. I can even say I wasn't ready to go home when I did, I could of stayed there all summer long. My ecuaexperinece in Ecuador and the Galapagos is one I will cherish for the rest of my life and never forget.

The help portion of he program was especially rewarding for me, I couldn't of imagined how helping those who are less fortunate by building them homes would change my life. The joy and happiness on the communities faces would fill your heart with enough joy for the rest of your life. The community was so greatfull for their new homes and for their lives to change. I also loved how much we got to interact with the community and really connect with the people. From the friendly games of soccer, movie night with the kids, the welcome and goodbye dinners, as well as just working along side them to build new homes. I am so happy I got the opportunity to help this special community in Pujili no matter how much hard work it was and how dirty we all got at the end of the day.

The learning part of the trip was more then I ever dreamt of. The amount of information we learnt during our medical rotations and outside from doctors and the tutors was mind blowing, the experiences we saw in the different wards of the hospital was fascinating, and the just the experience of it all was amazing. There aren't many places in the world that will allow you to see what we saw, learnt what we learnt, and got an insight of the world from a doctors perspective and still feel safe and excited for what's next to come. The medical really allow you to see what career path and what lifestyle you will be going into if you choose to become a doctor.

The discover portion of the trio was absolutely nothing I could of ever imagined. The scenery in the beautiful country of Ecuador is nothing I've ever seen before from the volcanoes, rainforest, waterfalls, beaches, and hot springs were wonderful. I never thought one country was capable of so much Beaty. And the Galapagos was yet another beautiful surprise from the amazing blue oceans, white beaches, the wildlife, and sea life was so awesome. I couldn't of imagined being anywhere else but on this trip and meeting the amazing people I did. This organization is a great mixture of volunteering, discovering what Ecuador has to offer, and learning about what your carer might look like in the near future.

Yes, I recommend
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Natasha
10/10

Best 5 weeks of my life!

I went on the Pre-Med 1 trip for the month of May 2015. I wish the trip could have lasted all summer. The variety on this trip is incredible including surfing, water repelling, medical rotations, working with the community volunteering, hiking volcanoes, a rainforest and the jungle, tubing, horse back riding, snorkelling and much more! What really makes this trip so special is the two owners Jose and Juan. They make you feel like family while you are there and truly care that you are having fun and are safe at all times. If you are interested in medicine, the pre-med option is a great opportunity to really see if this is an environment that you enjoy - you actually get to stand in operating rooms watching surgeries, learn how to draw blood and make stitches, opportunities you would not be allowed to do in North America in your undergrad. Working at the volunteer site is very rewarding, seeing the conditions people live in on a day to day basis and how happy the children are even though they live in very poor conditions. This trip is a great combination of learning, laughing, working hard and having fun. Get ready to sing lots. dance, wear a constant smile and have the time of your life! If anyone was to ask me what would I say to future HLD students I would tell them get ready to have the best time of their lives!

How can this program be improved?
Nothing. Some may say that they would rather have more detailed schedules of what we are doing each day as we were just given scedules that had the places we would be each day, but personally I loved the element of suprise not knowing what we were going to do next made the activities so much more exciting!
Yes, I recommend
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Matthew
9/10

Looking to make a difference!? Look no further.

This program was truly phenomenal. As someone who signed up for the program alone, I was a little intimidated at first. As I was traveling to a foreign country all alone, to meet up with a bunch of strangers, not quite sure what I was getting myself into. However, it wasn’t long at all before those strangers became close friends, better yet, my family! Traveling with so many like-minded people (people with a passion for change and equality) provides an amazing energy, it was hard not to be positive the entire trip.

Every place that we traveled was astonishing; I was blown away by how diverse Ecuador is. As one day we would be in the mountains, and the next in the rainforest. Also, all the activities we did as a group were amazing. All the new experiences really pushed me out of my comfort zone sometimes, which was a good thing - as I truly think I learned a great deal about myself from this trip.

The volunteer aspect was the most meaningful for me. The work days were long and hard, but were also incredibly rewarding. Getting to work alongside the community members which we were helping, and seeing the appreciation they had towards what we were doing - was incredibly touching.

I don’t think I will ever forget the memories and friends (fellow students, community members, as well as the leaders and organizers alike) that I have made on this trip.

I highly recommend to anyone looking to make a difference in the world, to sign up for this trip like I did. It may have been a bit of an impulsive decision, but it was probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

How can this program be improved?
I would have personally liked to have spent more time volunteering In the community. Maybe an improvement would be to increase the length of volunteer time for those signed up in the volunteer program only (maybe from one week to two weeks).
While traveling I would have also enjoyed a little more down time, to shop, relax, and do our own thing sometimes.
Yes, I recommend
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Rachel
9/10

First individual travel experience

I was very anxious the day before the trip, specifically wondering whether I would have a hard time making new friends or not. I soon realized that the social scene was the best aspect of this trip. I will keep in touch with many people and will try to visit them in the future. Although many activites were planned throughout the month, I had the best time during the free times. The reason for this was because I was able to interact with more people and learn/relate with them. This was the time that I was most able to make the best of friends. The best part of the trip for me was in the Galapagos and I truly encourage all students to go. I love all beach atmospheres. The scene that has most impacted my life was in Pujili, as I was able to see many young children less fortunate than I and was also able to help them. I bonded well with the children and was devastated leaving the community. The most difficult part of the trip for me is leaving all my friends and leaders. This has honestly been the best trip of my life and I will strongly encourage all students, whether interested into medicine or not, to apply.

How can this program be improved?
Let the students know ahead of time more specifics of the trip. I found I was less prepared than I could have been on certain trips.
Yes, I recommend
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Caroline
10/10

The experience of a lifetime!

This experience in Ecuador was even better than what I had expected. With Help, Learn and Discover, we got the chance to visit most of the interesting places in Ecuador in a very organized way. The volunteer portion of the trip in Pujili, where we had the chance to build homes for an Ecudorian community, was well structured and an experience I will never forget. The fact that we had the chance to build the homes alongside the community allowed us to get to know a little bit of how these people lived and how the houses we are building will impact their life. The medical rotations in the different hospitals in Quito allowed us to see different medical procedures that we never would have had a chance to see without this program as an university undergraduate student. These rotations are especially interesting for aspiring medical doctors. In short, this past month was one of the best months of my life and all the things I learned and saw will contiue to impact my life for a long time. Every single part of this trip was definitely worth it.

How can this program be improved?
Maybe spending a little bit more time at the volunteer site building the homes, but honestly this month was really great and the time at the different places was well distributed.
Yes, I recommend
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Elena
10/10

Ecuaexperience was amazing

I had an incredible time on this program. Would definitely recommend. The people were fantastic, the activities fun and challenging, and you could really see the impact of the volunteer work. The tour allowed us to see so much of Ecuador, and have lots of fun in the process.

How can this program be improved?
More descriptive itineraries would be nice
Yes, I recommend
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Marie-Lyne
10/10

BEST MONTH OF MY LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

All the components of HLD were amazing!!! The volunteer experience was perfect because we really got to meet the community we were helping and we got to see the impact we had on their lifestyle and future. For the touring part of the trip, we really got to see every aspect of Ecuador and it was amazing to see the different sceneries we can find in Ecuador as well as doing many many insane activities. I also enjoyed the medical rotations because they show you the reality of a physician and you get to learn so much from the tutors, the medical case, and being in the hospital. That being said, the best part of this trip is doing all of those insane things with people that become your family!!!!!!!!!!!

How can this program be improved?
To try to get to the different touristic place, such as Papallacta, in the afternoon so we get to enjoy the location while the sun is still out. Besides that, everything was amazing and should just be longer!!!!
Yes, I recommend
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Makena
10/10

Best month of my life

This month has been incredible! Every activity that we did was extremly well organized, educational and fun. The welcome and goodbye celebrations were one of my favorate parts because it was great to see how much the community valued what we were doing. I also really enjoyed the horse back riding in cotopaxi as well as all the hikes. Honestly its dificult to pin point the highlights of the trip because every moment has been amazing. The friendships we formed will last a life time and I will never forget how important it is do your part to help the people around you. I am truly greatful to have been able to come on this fantastic adventure and im so thankful to Juan and Jose for making it unforgetable.

How can this program be improved?
If I could change one thing it would be to stay longer in Pujili volunteering. Since I was a volunteer only I wish I could have stayed a couple more days in the community.
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...