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 106 - 120 of 226
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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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 this program
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Kim
9/10

Best Month of my Life

Overall I thought the trip was incredible. Every single day was better than the last. I have so many amazing memories and friendships made from the trip. One issue was that we had no idea what our schedule would be for the month until we arrive at the hostel in Quito. Although I was worried about not knowing my schedule, I found that it wasn't that big of a deal anyways. We learned to go with the flow and enjoy the laid back lifestyle.

My trip began with a week on the Galapagos Islands. It was AMAZING! If you have the opportunity to go then don't miss out on this week. (Volunteer, Bio med or extra week) We swam with sea lions and penguins! Our leaders took us to see everything. After the week was over I felt that it was the best week of my life.

The next 3 weeks consisted of traveling and visiting the work site. As soon as I stepped foot on the work site I knew I would like it even more than the Galapagos. I felt that we really changed the lives of the families we were helping. During those 3 weeks we also got to see A LOT of Ecuador. I could have never fit so much in if I did a trip on my own.

The only other issue I had with the trip was the food. We spent a lot of money to go on the trip but I was hungry often. Breakfasts didn't usually consist of much more than toast and cereal. I understand that it is expensive and difficult to serve a group of 30 students but I wish we got a little bit more and maybe some snacks during the day.

The organization and food were minor issues I had with this amazing program. We were involved in helping a community in need while also getting to see this beautiful country. I would recommend HLD to anyone.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Teddy
10/10

2014 Ecuaexperience

Jose and Juan are the most hands on owners ever. They made the whole experience worthwhile. Not only were they accompanying us on our everyday trips, no matter the problem, big or small, they took it into their own hands. This trip was a total eyeopener.

How can this program be improved?
What I would be the events. Some of the events were not as entertaining nor exciting as I would have hoped.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Sunaira
9/10

Incredible Experience

This trip was incredible to say the least. We went on amazing adventures such as snorkeling with sharks, swinging off a cliff in Banos, hikes in the jungle and much more. The volunteering portion was my favourite part, it was so touching when we got to give the homes away and celebrate with the community after, it was definitely a joyus day! The galapagos was my second favourite thing. The water was so blue it was just amazing! The week in galapagos just flies by because you are having a wonderful time. Juan, Jose, Olivia and the other staff are so supportive and you feel extremely safe when you`re with them!

How can this program be improved?
The amount of travelling time but that´s really hard to fix unless you cut down on the activities, which would suck.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Mandy
10/10

A True Ecuaexperience

My experience with HLD was unlike anything I expected. Obviously a great amount of adventure is a given, but what I did not expect was how close we got to Jose and Juan. It's more than just a vacation and it's more than just a volunteer summer camp. It was a retreat from the city life with random people - a potentially estranging experience - who became friends and family. We grew together and learned more about the world together. More than that, we got to do the same with the community that we helped. It's a sort of connection that's more than just going to a place, we were completely immersed in the culture with locals as our friends and guides, people who welcomed us with open arms. We didn't even feel like foreigners.

How can this program be improved?
Although I enjoyed the spontaneity of not knowing what's happening next until it happens, I feel that some people would have liked to know a little more beforehand (like which days would be travel days, etc.). I know it's difficult to have the itineraries ready beforehand but I thought that some people were ansty.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Sarah
9/10

The All-in-one Package

This trip was an experience of a lifetime. I got to learn about the life of a doctor, meet new people, help people and adventure. In this program I got to do actual medical rotations and deal with real doctors, students and patients which was amazing and really showed me that med school is a great option for my future. During volunteering I got to learn about another culture and learn about their customs and lives and work along side them in order to give them more than they have ever had. I also got to meet new people and I made life long friendships here that will never fade. Beyond this I got to do things I never thought I would do like waterfall rappelling, paragliding and snorkelling in the Galapagos. This trip pushed me to face my fears if nothing else and it was all based on safety and encouragement from our leaders and the owners. What's also amazing is that you get to have freedom to do what you want and spend free time how you want. And I cannot express how impressed I was that the owners of this company come with you to destinations and actually get to know you and become your friends.

How can this program be improved?
The only thing I would change is more communication beforehand between leaders and the students coming on the trip. I was very stressed beforehand and didn't really know what was going to happen but in the end everything was perfectly planned and organized.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Iris
9/10

Ecua-experience of a lifetime

My main reason for coming on this trip? Medical rotations and volunteering.
I was in the pre-medical program and for the week of medical rotations, I met the most incredible people. Not only were the tutors nice, encouraging, funny and intelligent, they were caring. They cared about whether we, as the students and participants, were safe, enjoying our experiences and having all of our questions answered while at the hospital. We were given opportunities to watch surgeries, understand how hospital equipment is used, learn about taking vital signs of a patient and patient interaction, and see doctors rescue someone´s life. 11/10 would be the rating I give for the tutors and medical rotations week. Aside from the medical rotations week, the week we spent building homes in Pujili was amazing. We all poured our sweat and tears (tears of joy from having fun with the children in the community!) into these homes and when it was finally time to officially give them away, that´s when it really hit me. I did it. WE did it. We made an impact on a hundred people, helping to make their lives easier. We saw their smiles and tears and children running to their new homes. Shortly after giving away the homes, we went to see their current homes and that´s when it hit me again. In comparison to their current homes, the homes we gave them were like mansions. It felt wonderful to be able to help a community this way, and I´ve never been more proud of myself that I participated in such a meaningful action as this.
Finally, the cherry on top. We went from city to city; Banos, Mindo, Canoa and Quito only to name a few. We hiked to waterfalls, repelled down waterfalls, shopped for hours at markets, galloped on horses at Cotopaxi, sang songs on the bus, swang off a cliff, took a cable car across a waterfall, laughed too long at inside jokes and surfed in the ocean. Everything we saw was like a scene out of a postcard. (And I´m not exaggerating because Cotopaxi looks even more incredible than the post cards.)

And last but not least, this program had the best owners: Juan and Jose. One word to describe these two people: Incredible

How can this program be improved?
I would have liked another week of medical rotations, even if this means a program that is longer than one month because I really, really enjoyed the medical rotations.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Joel
10/10

The best way to spend a month.

Whether you are thinking about medicine or not, HLD has you covered. This program allows you to make an impact on a community in Ecuador, make amazing friends, and see some incredible things along the way. If you are interested in medicine, the premed and biomed program gives you an opportunity to do things you simply wouldn´t get a chance to do in Canada or the United States. I saw some incredible surgeries and was able to solidify my desire to go into the field of medicine.

How can this program be improved?
It would be awesome if we could know the schedule for the month before hand.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Cara
10/10

Amazing Trip

This past month has been so much fun and such a great experience. The time went by so quick because we did so many different things and were always kept busy. It was awesome to be able to meet so many people and make so many new friends. Volunteering in Pujili was so rewarding and we were working with the community to build the homes so we were able to build relationships with the families (especially the kids) who were receiving the homes. I was in the pre-medical program and it was such a great opportunity to get to watch surgeries and shadow doctors in the hospital in Quito because I would never get to do this at home. All of the hostels we stayed at were really nice and the food was always good. It was also nice to have everything planned out for you so there was nothing to worry about as everything was very organized. Juan, Jose, and the leaders were also great. They were super friendly and always kept things exciting. Overall this trip was more than worth it and I would love to do it again!

How can this program be improved?
I wouldn't change anything about this program!
Yes, I recommend this program
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Cassidee
10/10

Beyond my Expectations - Highlight of my Summer

This trip has been beyond my expectations from the day we arrived in Quito.

Hostels/Resorts- I was preparing myself for the typical hostels you see on TV but every place we stayed at was beyond my expectations. Clean rooms, attentive hostel staff, house keeping, warm showers, and endless activities. The resort in Canoa was hands down my favourite with the beautiful view of the ocean, pool front room, best food all trip, and amazing hotel staff.

Food- The variety of food that was offered was surprising. From rice and chicken, to burgers, to steak or seafood, there was always something on the menu for everyone! We even got to go to a fine dining restaurant a couple times which was a really nice change to the typical casual dining on the trip. Juan and Jose were extremely attentive of my dietary restrictions as well which was helpful because of the language barrier.

Activites- The amount of activites and sites seen on this trip is incredible. Together they make the trip 100 percent worth the price. You can literally experience everything that Ecuador has to offer. Tubing was my favourite activity. It was also really nice that everything was optional. If there was something you didnt want to participate in, there was no questions about it and they often suggested something you could do that day like go into town!

Night Life- Fun, SAFE, and optional! Occasionally we had the option of going to a club or karaoke bar. Jose was always with us so he could help us order drinks in spanish which was very helpful! It was nice to just have fun with everyone even if you didnt drink. Everyone was really respectful of peoples beliefs and ensured to include everyone in all activities.

Volunteer- The volunteer portion was amazing! I personally wish there would have been a few more days but with the amount of activites they want us to experience in the month its understandable. The community was extremely helpful and grateful for what we were doing. The children were playful but always wanted to lend a hand as well. The inaugeration party was a highlight of the trip. The community prepared lunch and dinner for us and threw us a big party! Lots of locals, friends, and family came and together we danced all night!

Med Rotations- This was an extremely knowledge filled week. Being a commerce student I wasnt sure how I would enjoy this portion of the trip but was looking forward to shadowing doctors and experiencing something so unique. It was a lot of information being someone that has never taken a science class but being so hands on made it worth it! We learnt how to do stitches and CPR as well which is important for anyone to know! The case studies were interesting but nothing too hard. Presenting them was fun and gave everyone a good laugh!

Juan, Jose, and Leaders- These people made the trip as amazing as it was. The fact that they were SO attentive and always ensured we were 100 percent satisfied is unlike any trip I have been on. Everyday they greeted us individually and asked how our day has been so far. They reminded us that if we were unhappy to please tell them and they will do whatever they can to flip that around. Having them there also made the trip customizable. Their personalities, dancing, singing, and jokes kept us entertained all week! The student leaders were great too. They blended right in with us and joined us in all we did but were also great for support on any topics.

Overall- Best trip I have ever been on! I look forward to returning home having met so many people and created so many memories. I would highly reccomend this trip for anyone interested in travel, volunteer, or medicine.

How can this program be improved?
The only thing I would reccomend is more information on their website about the different program options. I would have loved to experience the Galapagos but didnt fully understand from the information on the website and made the mistake of not asking enough questions.
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...