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 121 - 135 of 220
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Ruth
10/10

Outstanding Volunteer Program in Ecuador for Students

The Ecuaexperience program through Help, Learn, Discover is an amazing 4 weeks packed with activities and unforgettable memories. During the help portion of the trip, students were guided through building houses in rural Ecuador, no building experience required! Students enrolled in the pre-medical programs also have the opportunity to shadow doctors at hospitals in Quito. Some of my favorite days were during medical rotations when the doctors in the OR explained the surgeries as they were happening and let us watch up close! Through the course of the program you travel all around Ecuador from the Andes to the coast and even the Galapagos Islands. Some of the activities included: snorkeling, rappelling down waterfalls and many scenic hikes. All that being said, we still had time to spend evenings with new friends. Juan and Jose, the founders of the program, are with you the entire trip and willing to help you make the most of your time in Ecuador. This trip was my second time volunteering in Ecuador and I would come back with Help, Learn, Discover. I would highly recommend this program.

How can this program be improved?
The Ecuaexperience program has come so far in the past 10 years, but still requires students to have some flexibility. I came on this trip with a dietary restriction (gluten) and the entire team here in Ecuador worked with me to make sure I always had meals available. As long as you are ready to adapt to the culture in Ecuador, you will make the most of your trip here and have life-long memories to take back home.
Yes, I recommend
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Sum
10/10

An truly incredible eye-opening experience

Ecuaexperience truly is a magnificent journey, and not only a physical journey, but an internal spiritual one. You discover much about yourself and other people as you're volunteering with others on the trip, shadowing doctors in the hospital or just touring the country. This experience is eye opening because you get to discover so much. You get to learn about a third world country and how their life is different from yours in ways I couldn't imagine. You get to discover if you have a passion for a career in health care and you get to have a glimpse into the life of those in that profession. You get an undescribable feeling when you witness the joy of those you help in the remote villages of Ecuador. During my volunteer portion, my group and I lived in worse conditions than we were conditioned to, which gave me a slight understanding of how life is for the people we voluteer for.

I would hands down recommend this trip to anyone, whether you're looking for a volunteer opportunity, wanting to experience a profession in the hopsital or just looking to have fun because whatever you're reason might be, I am sure you will have an unforgettable trip!

How can this program be improved?
At the end of my trip, everyone became incredibly close friends. However, during the trip, some social groups were formed as people tend to hang out with the people they're most familiar with. Maybe for future trips, the program could try to mix together more people when they are rooming together in hotels so that less social groups are formed and everyone can become closer friends faster. This is a minor subjective complaint as everyone eventually became super good friends with everybody!
Yes, I recommend
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Andi
10/10

AMAZZZZZZING

I absolutely loved this trip. Not only did I meet friends for life, but I had so many great adventures! Highlights would include the volunteer portion and the various trips around the country. Canoa was amazing, Horseback riding in Cotopaxi, unforgettable, repelling down a waterfall ,crazy and adrenaline pumping! Then there was tubing down the Napa river and staying in the beautiful jungle cabins at the end of the ride. Honestly this whole month was a highlight. I can´t really pick a few without going on about every part of this trip! I loved it and I would recommend it to anyone with a heart for travel, getting to know new people and helping others. I can´t describe the emotion felt after fundraising for months then coming down here and physically getting my hands dirty and helping the community. It was amazing.

How can this program be improved?
I would change the length of volunteer and med rotations. I understand that there is a lot to fit into one month but maybe there can be an option for longer volunteer and longer med as well as all the other activities. I was in BioMed and I would have moved to spend more time with the community and get the chance to participate in the case study during med. This being said i´m being greedy and asking for more! This month was great regardless.
Yes, I recommend
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Megan
10/10

Truly an Ecua-Experience to Remember

I have only good things to say about my experience here in Ecuador with HLD. From the moment we arrived the leaders and other staff were friendly and so supportive! The people you meet here become close very quickly and many of us have developed life long friendships. Medical rotations are executed with extreme professionalism and helped me get a sample of all the different specialized positions which ultimately helped me decide on what I wanted to pursue. As for the volunteering, the entire project spendings where determined by the students which was something that I valued greatly. The days spent volunteering felt so worth it as the communities chosen by the company are very greatful and help with the building project all the way through. Lastly, the activities (including an extra week in the Galapagos which was increadible) were memories and experiences I will never forget.

How can this program be improved?
In my opinion there are no major issues worth stating here. Throughout the trip Juan and Jose are constantly ensuring we are happy and asking if there are any things that we need.
Yes, I recommend
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Ramon
10/10

The Greatest Experience Ever

The past month has been one of the best months of my entire life. Every single day has been an adventure and an experience I wouldn't change for the world. The company is like no other and it starts with the owners. The owners are there every single day as friends, not supervisors, and that's what sets HLD apart from the rest. As well, the leaders are fantastic and supportive through everything we experience. From helping to build homes first hand, to learning the culture, and discovering every corner of Ecuador, I've had the most amazing experience and would love to come back as a leader one day! #hldtillidie

Yes, I recommend
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Cass
10/10

Bes Trip of My life

This trip definitely surpassed my expectations. There was a perfect balance between medical rotations on site volunteering in the community and leisure. The volunteering is well organized and gives you the chance to get to work closely with the community and get to know them better, making this experience even more gratifying. From the mountains in Cotopaxi to the beaches of Canoa it felt like we did it all. Tubing, waterfall repelling, jungle hikes, chocolate tours, were only few of the numerous amazing activities that we had the pleasure of doing during our stay. For students who are planing on pursuing a career in medicine the pre-med program is definitely an eye-opener. You get to assist surgeries, medical consultations, etc which really gives you a clear idea of what being a doctor entails. I have no complaints about this trip; I learned a lot, the food was great and everyone was very kind and welcoming. I would definitely recommend it to everyone!!!

How can this program be improved?
the only thing I would change is how the gifts are given at the end to the community. I would have a more organized system based on age and interest of the children receiving the gifts. Other then that it was great!
Yes, I recommend
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Tracy
10/10

Bio-Med Program

This was one of the best months of my life. I was part of the bio-med program and so we go to go to the Galapagos for a week which was honestly one of the best experiences I've had. Overall the discover portion of this trip was unforgettable. We really packed in so many once in a life time experiences that really made me appreciate what Ecuador has to offer. The Medical rotations were pretty packed in as well and I definitely learned alot because the medical tutors were very knowledgable. Unfortunately, by chance my group didn't get to see as many surgeries but that was just because they were not happening during the the days we were. I personally thought the best day was when we got to go in to the operating rooms and see the surgeries really close up which is an opportunity that not many non medical students get. I agree that the volunteer portion was a little short and I do wish I got to interact with the community a little more. I did enjoy the challenge of fundraising though and seeing the definite progress in the homes. Overall this was an amazing experience with amazingly unique and fun people that I will always remember.

How can this program be improved?
Have a longer volunteer section and more interaction with the community.
Yes, I recommend
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Paige
10/10

Ecuador is INCREDIBLE

My favorite day of this trip was the day I got to climb up an active volcano on isabela island, or swimming with sea lions and penguins. In Quito I got to see multiple orthopedic surgeries and the community of pujili was so sweet! this was hands down the best 5 weeks of my life, and the quote in the 593 hostel "come as strangers, leave as friends" was so true.Ii consider so many people I have met on this trip to be family. I feel so blessed to have done something like this with my life! a HUGE shout out to Juan and Jose too, they make the trip unforgettable, with many hilarious, but also truly meaningful, speeches. Thank you HLD!!

Yes, I recommend
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Bill
10/10

Med Program was a BLAST!

I have researched many overseas programs before I selected this one, so I can tell you my reasons for choosing it. I specifically looked for a program with more health related concept than just general volunteer. I felt that many of the "volunteer" programs are more of touring than helping, but HLD is one that really need you to haul the cement (literally!). I also wanted to experience legitimate healthcare, not when they call stay-near-african-nursery-but-you-cant-go-in, a proper medical experience. And for discover, all I have to say is Juan and Jose knows where to party. You won't regret going to any of the towns they planned for you.

Here are the criteria of gooverseas.com, and I'll explain why each category I give its best.

Benefits: Worth. Two kinds of worth: what I paid for, and what I worked for to fund-raise before the trip. Not only the trip was fantastically done, fundraising to Gold Member is good deed for both the community and yourself too! HLD promised many GM benefits if you reach your fundraising goal, and you will definitely want all of them. Extra hour of surfing, GM trophy and goodies, and many more that will make the trip even better. Originally I was a bit hesitant paying 6k for the trip plus MP week, but after the trip I would give no hesitation to go back. As for fundraising experience, all your hard work will pay off throughout the trip and once you see the smiles of the families you will help.

Support: The leaders, guides and J+J makes sure you have been taken care of. A few times I've been left for a short while, but that is only because they have to take care of 40 other people too. You gotta understand that. During all three components of the trip, leaders and guides are with you. Never would you be left unsupported! I saw a comment about lack of communication before the trip, but that also depends on how anxious you will be. The leaders takes care of you starting from fundraising all the way to coming back.

Facilities: Would you expect good quality wifi in a third world country? I had to adjust my expectations before the trip, especially since the community you will be helping with most likely lack electricity completely, and clean water in general. Going on the trip reveal the amount of stuff I take for granted: too much. Don't expect hot water when you go volunteering, please. You will be experiencing the villager's lives, and they don't live with much that we do. That being said, your homebase hotel, as well as Discover travel hotels, are fully equipped with wifi and other amenities, enough bandwidth that I sneaked a game one latenight. (I apologize!) Many of them ARE all-inclusive hotel standard.

Fun: fun. much fun. fun day and night! Each location that I traveled, each piece of experience was filled with excitement and discovery. Absolutely nothing to regret.

Safety: There is not one point on the trip was I worried about safety. And I worry about safety when I can. Before the trip I was concerned with vaccines - please ensure you and your body is ready for the trip. Once that is done then there is nothing to worry.

I sincerely hope my comment will help settle any questions, and hope to see more HLD-ers out there!

How can this program be improved?
I feel the website could be a little more informative, only because the fun I experienced is much more than what is described on the webpage. On the same note, the itinerary can be done a little better. Not ruining the fun, but adding a little more detail will give security to many people.

The bottom line is I've done much much more than what I have reasonably expected from the description.
Yes, I recommend
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Anna
10/10

Wake up to something new everyday

Ecuaexperience did an amazing job bringing together multiple disciplines of discovery, volunteer, biology, medicine and fun, without sacrificing anything! You were doing something new and exciting every day and the leaders were super enthusiastic and passionate about what they do.

Yes, I recommend
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Jane
9/10

Great program but definitely could use a bit of work

This was an incredible experience. I was on the bio-med trip which meant I got four days of med rotations, a week in the Galapagos, but only 2 whole days of volunteering. Honestly, I was ok with that. I've volunteered many other places and my main focus of this trip was for the med rotations. Honestly, I could've used a couple more days for med rotations but what I got was sufficient. The volunteering was fine but I did feel a little awkward when we were getting accolades from the community when I didn't really do much at all. But oh well.

The "Discover" portion was amazing. I did some incredible things in Ecuador. Things I would have never been able to do otherwise.

All of the leaders were awesome, however, I actually really disliked when the owners, Juan and Jose, were with us. For the most part, they're nice, but they seem more concerned with being best friends with the "cool kids" than making sure everyone is happy. They go on and on about how they want everyone's experience to be perfect. They even point out that it's great that we have access to them because if there's something we don't like, we can tell them directly. However, more often than not, when you would go to them with issues, they would reply back with either a defensive or sarcastic remark. I never felt comfortable saying anything because of that. It was very intimidating and disheartening. It's cool to want to be friendly and chill with everyone but try to show a little professionalism as well.

Another thing I disliked was the lack of communication before the trip. I've never ever been on a trip where I wasn't given an itinerary beforehand. I specifically asked for one and was told I would get it once in Ecuador. Ok fine, I guess I'll send the info to my family when I get there. But wait! Wifi was absolute garbage everywhere we went! Also, I had no idea who was going to pick me up from the airport or where I was supposed to go. It was quite scary. Luckily once I was in Ecuador, things were more organized. But it didn't make for an exciting departure at all.

Regardless, it was a very fun trip. They could definitely improve in some areas but I would still highly recommend the trip. I just hope Juan and Jose are actually reading these.

How can this program be improved?
Read above.
Yes, I recommend
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Daniel
10/10

One of the coolest experiences

Through my journey I was able to meet great friends, travel around Ecuador and most importantly take part in making a difference to families.

Help - this was my favourite part of the trip. The connection that I made with the locals while helping them build their homes was very special. The work is physically demanding and fun. I do wish the volunteer section was longer since we only stayed for 4-5 days. I understand that making this portion longer would give less time for travelling and everything else. However, I still wanted to help out a bit more.

Learn - throughout the medical rotations, the tutors provided us with detailed knowledge on the subjects. The tutors were great and became our friends. The learn section was significant in that it made me reflect on my career path in medicine and if it would be what I'd want to do for my life. The firsthand experience was a good preview of future medical jobs.

Discover - I really enjoyed travelling around and got to see things that I've never seen before - such as dense rainforests and tundra regions. The hotels were nice while travelling and the parties were always fun.

How can this program be improved?
During the med rotations, everyone was starving since we would always eat dinner around 9 or 10. I would like it better if the breaks between the different rotations were shorter so that dinner would be around 7 or 8.
Yes, I recommend
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MDH
10/10

Life-Changing Experience

Help, Learn & Discover was an absolutely unforgettable experience! I took part in the pre-medical program, Galapagos and Machu Picchu extra week programs and each part of my trip was incredible! I learned so much about myself while falling in love with the culture and people of Latin America during my travels throughout Ecuador and Peru.

The Help component of the trip is the closest to my heart. When I left the volunteer site, some of the children were running behind our vehicle waving and blowing kisses back to me and I burst into tears. It was amazing how easily I connected with the children of Pujili without being able to speak Spanish very well. I widened my skill set during fundraising, but more importantly I have learned from the people of Pujili to be grateful and happy.

The Learn component of the program is eventful, informative, and diverse! I was able to watch multiple surgeries, natural and caesarean births, and emergency room entries. I learned the basics of first aid, suturing, and solving a medical case study. I truly believe I have more first hand experience than other students entering medical school in Canada because of the opportunities Help, Learn & Discover allowed me to have.

The Discover component is the part of the program that I believe takes people out of their comfort zone. I was able to snorkel with sea turtles and sea lions in the Galapagos Islands, hike the breath-taking Machu Picchu mountain, waterfall rappel in the cloud rainforest, tube in the Amazon River, and sun bathe on the beach in Canoa. I met so many incredible people from across North America, made lifelong friends, and tried things I would have been too timid to attempt before this trip.

In summary, Help, Learn & Discover is a program for well-rounded individuals who want to not only give back to the world but also have an incredible adventure in a foreign country. This program is the perfect mixture of volunteering, travelling, and learning about the field of medicine. I could never ask for a better experience from a tour company. The leaders, tour guides, and operations directors are all inspiring and amazing people who personally will do whatever it takes to give each and every student an incredible experience. The personal touches such as fireworks on the beach, snacks at the work site, and surprise birthday cakes for students on the trip are just a few examples of the care that these people show for their volunteers. The staff at HLD truly makes you feel like a part of their family. I will forever be grateful for the time I spent with Help, Learn & Discover.

Yes, I recommend
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Andrée-Anne
10/10

Bio/Pre-med July 2014

One word, AMAZING! We did so many things during those 4 weeks! Help, Learn and Discover; couldn't be more accurate. What really made this experience unique though is the People. I've made friends for life! This was my best trip so far and it'll be very hard to top that!

Yes, I recommend
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Wanda
10/10

Best month of my life

Honestly I don't think I could make the trip any better other than making it a tad bit less expensive. The leaders, activities and experiences were all perfect. Everything was pulled off without a hitch. It was clear that the leaders and organizers cared about each of us personally and wanted us to enjoy ourselves. They went to extremes to make sure we were comfortable and happy. I think I smiled 24 hours a day on this trip. I love HLD so much!

How can this program be improved?
Only the price!
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...