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 91 - 105 of 220
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David
8/10

May 2015

The program offered was an amazing experience. I did a lot of things that I thought I'd never have the courage to do. Thank you ecuaexperience!

How can this program be improved?
Make the website clearer and add more trip details. Maybe send out more detailed itinaries. Introduce the particpants of the program to fundraising earlier; not a month before final exams.
Yes, I recommend
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Manisha
10/10

Life-Changing

Ecuaexperience is the best way for students to travel around South America, get hands-on experience in hospitals and truly make a difference in the lives of the people in the community who recieve the homes. Juan and Jose completely blow you away with all of their insight, connections, and dedication to ensuring you have the best experience possible. It is amazing how much they are able to fit into one day. We would travel from city to jungle,be greeted by monkeys on the shore, tube down a river to arrive to our hotel in the jungle, spend hours playing with the kids of the community after a hard day´s work and the list could continue forever. For me, the life-changing part of the trip came when we volunteered in the community. Jose took us to see the houses of the families that would be recieving the houses that we were building and I was blown away. It is one thing to watch the YouTube videos of the previous trips and one thing to actually be here and SEE for yourself. All I can say is that all of the hours that we spent building the foundations of the homes was the best time I have ever spent. At our goodbye dinner after our week of volunteering we walked through an aisle with people from the community on each side who looked at us as if we are heroes and wanted nothing but to shake our hands and thank us for our help. When you are at the building site and you feel exhausted from the few hours you put in a day and all around you the people of the community are working alongside you with no complaints it seems as if the work you are putting in is insignificant. But you have no idea how much of a difference you will make in HLD. You are not only building homes, but you are building futures. You are providing the opportunity for the children of the community to go to school and recieve an education, you are reducing a two and a half hour walk up a mountain from Pujili to the family´s homes to a half an hour walk on flat ground. There are so many volunteer programs offered all over the world, but there is only one that will push you beyond your limits in making a difference. Ecuaexperience is this program. You will travel all over Ecuador and be amazed by the happiness and beauty that surrounds you everyday, build futures in the community and learn so much about the health care system and needs of patients in the hospital. But most importantly, you will become a family with all of the members of your group and a better person as you realize your role in making a difference - in your community and the global community. As Jose always told us your most valuable asset is your time and you must determine how you spend it. I can assure you doing an Ecuaexperience program will be the best way you could ever spend your time!

How can this program be improved?
The program is perfectly structured because Juan and Jose ask for constant feedback and will change anything in seconds if you are not enjoying your experience.
Yes, I recommend
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Hanna
10/10

Ecuaexperience was fantastic!

Ecuaexperience is a great, very unique way to visit Ecuador. The trip involves visiting almost every geographic region of Ecuador, doing medical rotations during which you learn many things, and volunteering in a community that appreciates your help more than you can imagine. I would most definitely recommend going on this trip!

Yes, I recommend
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Julie
10/10

Best month of my life!

Juan and Jose gave clear instructions for what was to come the following days and it was always exciting to hear what was in store for us. Each day was packed with activities such as med rotations, hikes, waterfall repelling, beach time, volunteering in a community (which includes playing with the kids) and always great food! It amazed me that one month could be so productive, eye opening and fulfilling. It definitely changed my life in a positive way!

How can this program be improved?
I would ask that information about fundraising for the early birds is sent out earlier because we were slightly pressured for time to collect funds for the volunteer portion.
Yes, I recommend
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Andrew
10/10

Best Month of My Life

Every day there were activities on this trip that seemed like something out of a movie. From the galloping horses around a volcano, to tubing down the Amazon river and rappelling down waterfalls, each day was one to remember. I found myself getting to the hotel every night reminiscing on the next incredible experience we had had that day, which allowed the group to become so close.

The medical rotations were a major reason I signed up for the trip. The tutors were fun to hang out with, and I learned more in that week than I ever have in that time. Although I was able to scrub in on surgeries and was able to see things I never would have been able to in Canada, the volunteer experience was the most rewarding. Although I had done something similar in high school with Free The Children, the contact with the locals was unparalleled. We finished the week with a soccer match, and a farewell dinner that was very emotional. It was a truly humbling experience to know we had made a difference in these people's lives.

All in all HLD was the trip of a lifetime. Juan, José, and the leaders made sure everyone was taken care of and happy at all times. My time in Ecuador I have made lifelong friends and have had the best month of my life.

How can this program be improved?
MORE FOOOOOODDDD!!!!! I just eat A LOT.
Yes, I recommend
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Johnny
10/10

Opportunity of a lifetime

HLD has been an absolute blast. I enjoyed every part of it, whether it was watching medical surgeries only a foot away or repelling down waterfalls in the Amazon rainforest! Each aspect of this trip has an outstanding amount of wonderful things to be offered. I learned more than I ever imagined I would throughout the medical rotations and got really close with the tutors that taught us. For myself, nothing will top building the homes for the families of Pujili. We all worked very diligentl and every second of it was worth it. It was amazing to see the level of gratitude each and every one of them had for us, especially the kids. Getting to see how the families used to live and then helping construct a better future for them was truly humbling and I am very grateful for being apart of such an experience. I am very thankful for the friends I met the first day and even more thankful for the family that we have become. The HLD Ecuaexperience is a trip of a lifetime and has impacted my life greatly. I highly recommend HLD to all that want to experience what the medical field is like, to make a difference in many families lives or even if you just want to see what the beautiful country of Ecuador has to offer, you will have a blast.

How can this program be improved?
The program itself is layed out in a pretty awesome way. You definitely get a lot more than you expect coming into the trip. However, my only suggestion is bigger food servings, there is a lot of physical activity on some days and lions gotta eat :p Everything else is fantastic!
Yes, I recommend
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Michael
10/10

Experience of a Life Time

Literally words can not explain the experience I have had with HLD. I have made some lifetime friends as well as learned a lot about myself. With the help of the med rotations as well as the mentors I now know without a doubt that I want to be a doctor, which is something no other trip can offer. Sitting here at the end of my trip writing this, and trying to think back to all the thing I have done since landing in Quito blows me away. Each day is jammed back full activities whether it is watching open heart surgery, rappelling down waterfalls, playing beach volleyball in Canoa, shopping in the markets, or hiking through the amazon rain forest. To anyone reading this review and thinking whether it is worth it, I can personally guarantee the trip is worth every penny.

How can this program be improved?
Honestly you do so many activities with such a wide variety of aspects, that it is difficult to say what could be improved. I think the trip did an outstanding job of addressing everyones interests but keeping in mind the range of comfort levels. If I was forced to say one thing about the trip thats could be improved it would be the food portions. People of the trip are super busy everyday (which is how it should be) but after a long day they (generally the boys) are very hungry and the food portions in my opinion were not enough, with no opportunity of seconds for those who wanted it.
Yes, I recommend
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Genieva
10/10

HLD was an absolutely incredible experience!

HLD was an incredible experience for me. I learned an unbelievable amount during the medical rotations, and had an amazing time meeting lifelong friends. Yet for me, I think the volunteer aspect of the trip is what stood out the most. It was quite life changing to see how genuine the people of the Pujili village are, and how happy and grateful they are for the homes we helped build. It was extremely touching to have that interaction with the community. One difficulty I experienced was getting quite sick and having a hospital visit, and while that was difficult to experience and miss out on events, I definitely learned a bit about my self and strengths I have, as well as encountered the kindess of the staff during my recovery in Quito which I am very grateful for. I absolutely will recommend this trip to as many people as I can, as I believe it is an extremely valuable trip and have become very passionate about the HLD program.

How can this program be improved?
I find it difficult to find something to improve, however perhaps the medical rotations could be started an hour later as we all found that week very exhuasting! Also, there were a few instances where the breakfast was barely ready for us before we had to leave in the morning for rotations which caused us to eat very quickly, however it all worked out!
Yes, I recommend
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Jenna
10/10

100% worth your time

HLD provided a trip like none other. The food, accommodation, and activities were all fantastic. What makes this program extra special is the volunteer experience and the friends I made. The whole group became like a family away from home.

Working alongside students like myself and the local families who would eventually receive the homes, made the volunteer work very fun and much more meaningful. Through this experience, I learned to appreciate all that I have and the opportunities I will be given for the mere sake of living in a incredibly blessed country such as Canada. I will never forget the overwhelming sense of joy and gratitude I felt by helping these lovely families and I thank HLD for creating such an amazing connection between us.

Yes, I recommend
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Grace
10/10

HLD was the best month of my life!!!

My month in Ecuador travelling with HLD was the most amazing experience of my life. Although the cost of the trip initially made me hesitant, after coming on the trip I can say that it was 100% worth every penny. The three components of Help Learn and Discover were very evident during the trip and it was an unreal experience working along side med students in the hospital. I learned so much for than I could have ever imagined during just one week of medical rotations. The volunteering week in Pujili was life changing and really was eye opening to me and it was clear to see that we were making a difference in the lives of others. The amount of different places and activites we were able do on this trip was amazing and I can not say enough good things about my ecuaexperience!! All I can say is, if you are thinking of doing HLD, DO IT!!

How can this program be improved?
The medical rotations I think could have started an hour later in the day. The breakfast was very rushed before getting to our rotations, and then usually once we got to the hospital we ended up just waiting around for an hour anyways before things got busy and before we started doing things.
Yes, I recommend
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Ghoncheh
10/10

An amazing Ecuaexperience

I was first pretty skeptical about spending thousands of dollars to spend a month of my summer with strangers in a foreign country but I can honestly say it was the best decision I made and easily the best month of my life! The activities I have done here just isnt possible to do in Canada, and the opportunities are a once in a lifetime experience.

Help: We went to Pujili, Ecuador to help build 20 homes for families in need, truly an amazing eye-opening experience! Spending time with the community helping them build their own homes was a really rewarding experience and im glad I got the opportunity to make a difference in the children's lives and their futures. Overall It really put things into perspective

Learn: This was the first year HLD launched the pre-dentistry program and it was super interesting because the pre-dent students got to clean eachothers teeth, learn how to take moulds, look for cavitieis as well as go to the hospital and learn about surgerys, radiology, ER, internal medicine, and stiches! It was great for someone who might possibly be interested in both fields. This was an incredible portion of the trip as we had the opportunity to participate in med rotations by shadowing doctors and dentists in the OR/ER - something that just isnt possible to do in Canada.

Discover: This part of the trip consisted of visiting different parts of Ecuador and participating in various different activities. Trying to do all the activities HLD lined up for us in the same time frame would have been hard if I visited Ecuador alone but having Jose and Juan take care of you making sure you see all you need to see in the month is just super convenient. I have met the best people and had the best time in all the activities planned.

Yes, I recommend
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Jennifer
10/10

Once in a Lifetime Experience

Wow! Is the first thing I would like to say since just finishing my time in the Pre-Med 1 group of HLD. I have met so many BEAUTIFUL, AMAZING people on this trip that I will honestly cherish for a lifetime. That alone has been one of the greatest parts of this trip. You get to know so many different things about people and just really get to know them and I loveeeee making new friends, even moreso to just be around people who have some of the same goals that I do - like going to medical school.

Secondly, the things I have done in just 28 days has been INCREDIBLE. I have seen so much, learned so much. The medical aspect of it where I actually got to be in the operating room watching surgeries was honestly just mindblowing! I have never come across any opportunity to do that on my free time. The tutors that I met were all SO SMART. I admired all of them so much and they taught me so much, things that I will hold onto forever.

The volunteer portion of the trip was beautiful as well. It was the most eye-opening, humbling experience I have ever had in my life. The people are so grateful for what us volunteers are doing for them, and the kiddies are so cute and loving. It was an amazing environment to be around and it really taught me how blessed in life I am. I do not regret any second of helping to make a new life for these wonderful people that are less fortunate than myself. I loved doing that for them.

The discover portion of the trip blew my mind out of this entire universe! I have seen and done so many things in such a short time. The founders, which you will immediately love!!!, made sure that I was always having fun and that everything was always perfect. And everything indeed was always perfect. I won't go into detail about what exactly we did here because it should be a surprise, should you choose to join the HLD family - which...who wouldn't?! This has truly been overall the most amazing experience of a lifetime for me. I would tell the world about it if I could!!

Every single penny that I spent was MORE than worth it and I would do it all over again if I had the chance! I love HLD and everything that came with the package. HLD til I die!!!!!

How can this program be improved?
I truly do not know what I would change about this program. It was perfect to me and I enjoyed every single bit of it.
Yes, I recommend
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Grace
10/10

Unforgettable Trip

When I was preparing to come on this trip I was honestly a little nervous. I wasn´t sure what to expect or what kind of people I was going to meet on this trip.
I leave this trip in a day and I can say from the bottom of my heart that I have never regretted a single day on this trip. From the amazing new people that I´ve met to the many adventures that I have gone through, this trip has changed me as a person. It has opened up my eyes to so many new things and I feel that I am going home with a new perspective in mind. These three weeks have been unforgettable and incredible. If I could stay longer or do it again I would. The volunteer experience was amazing. Knowing that I was making a difference in the lives of others that were less fortunate than me left me completely speechless knowing that I could do something so big for someone else. I am looking forward to coming back sometime soon and seeing the same amazing people I spent this incredible time with.

Yes, I recommend
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Jane
10/10

Experience of a Lifetime!

I had the time of my life in Ecuador with HLD! The program was really well balanced for those who want to see another country, have fun, learn about medicine, and help those less fortunate.

There is no such thing as a typical day for this program, every single day was different and exciting! We did about a week of medical rotations which I found very informative. It was an experience that pushed me further towards my dream of someday being a doctor because I greatly enjoyed witnessing the physicians at work first hand. The hostel we stayed in was also super nice and really new at this time. Sometimes in the evenings we did workshops where we learned skills like suturing!

Next we went to the volunteer site where I got to interact with the community and work towards a common goal with them. We built 21 houses throughout the summer but in May it is mostly digging. Hard work but well worth the end result of helping the children and parents who I had come to know build a home they will keep for generations.

Also dispersed throughout the program are travel days and a tour at the end of the month where we saw many parts of the Ecuadorian landscape including the jungle, rain forest, coast, and for some of us the Galápagos Islands. I was able to cross a lot of adventures off my bucket list through this program, while also lending a helping hand to my fellow man and learning about a career in medicine.

Overall my experience was fantastic! The guides really catered to eating restrictions as much as possible and were very friendly and welcoming. I would definitely want to return to Ecuador with HLD someday!

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

Best Experience of my Life

The Help, Learn, and Discover: Ecuaexperience program was the greatest month of my life, hands down. It has something for everyone.

HELP: Students get to volunteer a portion of their time in Ecuador to helping a community build homes (and a better lifestyle) for themselves and their families. Students were able to interact with the community (including their adorable children) while putting in lots of work to ensure safe and beautiful homes were built. We also had a great amount of fun doing it!

LEARN: Students were also involved in medical rotations in which we were able to visit different wards in the hospital and experience things like the ER, OR, and ICU. We also did case studies that involved learning objectives that we presented in front of a group of medical students. This was a great learning experience that allowed us to think hard about our cases (rather than do simple research and presentations). The tutors themselves were extremely knowledgeable and helpful. They were kind and eager to teach us.

DISCOVER: This portion of the trip allowed students to visit different parts of Ecuador and learn about its vast culture and history while still having an incredible amount of fun! From horseback riding at the base of a volcano to an amazing beach resort, there is never a dull moment. Every minute of this trip was fun. Even the bus rides were great as we all grew as a family during this time and sang along to popular songs.

LEADERS: The leaders of this trip were extremely fun but made sure we had a safe experience as well. In particular, Juan and Jose (founders of Ecuaexperience) were the best hosts anyone could have asked for. They did not have many restrictions on students, giving us the freedom to have a lot of fun but remain safe. They were also involved with the students and created long lasting relationships with all of us. They're fun, energetic, and extremely caring about anyone and everyone. I'll never forget everything they've done for me.

FAMILY: The people you meet on the trip come from all parts of Canada and the United States and each has their own unique back story. But on this trip, every single one of them becomes a part of your family. Life long relationships WILL be formed. The hardest part about this trip is leaving everyone you've met at the end.

How can this program be improved?
This program has very little, if anything, to improve on. In general, everything was perfect and I could not have asked for a better experience.
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...