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 91 - 105 of 226
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 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...