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 136 - 150 of 220
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Jane
10/10

My Ecuaexperience

This was definitely the most amazing trip I have ever been on. Every single day was so full of so many fun activities that really allowed us to truly experience the beauty of Ecuador. And since everything from the accommodation to food to transportation and everything in between was taken care of for us, we were able to enjoy the trip completely stress free and have a great time.
For the Help component of the trip we were working in a very impoverished village alongside the villagers to build homes for the people who needed them the most. It was such a life-changing experience to get to know them and build a relationship with them and know that the homes that we were working on would go to these people who had become our friends (especially the kids). It was definitely hard work, but by far one of the most rewarding experiences ever as it was surprisingly difficult to say goodbye to the villagers when we were leaving.
The Learn aspect of the trip though is definitely what sets this trip apart from all the others out there. You learn so much over the week as we go through a number of different wards in the hospitals watching surgeries and learning about how it actually is to be a doctor. As an aspiring med student, it was the part that really helped me confirm that this was definitely the career I wanted to pursue in my life. The tutors were all very knowledgable and were great at explaining what it is we were actually watching.
The Discover part was also fantastic as we got to do things like jungle hikes in the Amazon Rainforest, go repelling down a waterfall, paragliding, surfing and so much more.

Every aspect of this trip was unlike anything I've ever done before and it was so amazing to be a part of it. But the glue that held it all together was definitely all the incredible people you meet. All the other participants were so nice and I know I definitely made some friends for life out of this trip, but it was also the staff, the tutors, the leaders and the founders of the company who were so awesome and friendly and approachable throughout the whole trip. They were there to help out if we had any questions or concerns and really worked hard to make this experience amazing for us.

I would definitely recommend it to everyone!

Yes, I recommend
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Stéphanie
4/10

Not here to volunteer

Help-
This is NOT at all the main focus of the trip, even though it is the first and the main thing they advertise.
For example: Looking at the schedule on their website, the pre-med program students are supposed to volunteer for 8 full days. However, we actually volunteered a little more than 21 hours GRAND total (spread over 6 days of work instead of 8), which means that we worked around 3 full days of 7 hours. The volunteer program was not a whole lot better (Around 4-5 full days of work). So if you want to join them for the volunteer part, I would definetly recommand you look somewhere else. I believe their problem is that they accept too many students and then they do not want to finish their project before the end of the summer so they make us work less.
Another big disapointment was the lack of relationship formed between the students and the community. Because we worked so little on the volunteer site and because we slept and ate in a "hotel" away from the work site, we did not have the time to build strong relationships, if any true ones at all, with the community we were helping. Therefore, even the celebration at the end of our work was not as heart warming and rewarding as I would have hoped since we barely earned that gratitude.

Learn-
This part was good overall. The rotations were diverse and educational. The tutors were knowledgeable as well, however some of the men were unprofessionnal sometimes (ex: a lot of flirting with the femaie students). Also, the organization around the case studies need a lot of improvement such as more communication between the staff who present the cases and the tutors, as well as being prepared to ask reasonable questions during the presentations. Otherwise, the experience is not at all preasurable nor beneficial. Moreover, the internet and wifi NEED to be fixed at the hostel 593 since it is impossible to be prepared for the case solutions otherwise.

Discover-
THIS is the main focus of their trip. If you're there mainly to "have fun" and do activities, this is a great program for you, even though the price is quite expensive for the quantity and quality of their activities. It is evident to most people that the compagny makes a ton of money off of us. There is also A LOT of partying so if you want to have a serious and life-changing experience, you could return unsatified. On top of all, if you like punctuality and organization, you could be greatly disappointed with this program since there is constant changes to the schedule as well as some things are just skipped. There is also a lack of professionnalism from some individual staff members, intriguingly mostly from the founders.

Bottom line, this program has a lot of potential, but still needs a lot of improvement.

No, I don't recommend
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Glynn
10/10

Experience of a lifetime!

This was hands down the most amazing experience of my life. Never have I had so much fun, learned so much, and met so many amazing people. The days are always packed with activities, you´re never bored, and there is so much variety. From tubing down the amazon river to surfing to enjoying a nice afternoon in the spa. The medical program was amazing, the tutors are so friendly and knowledgable, and you learn about so many areas of medicine such as radiology, surgery, pediatrics, and more. The volunteering program of the trip was unbelievable, you work hard and you really see how big of an impact your contribution leads to, especially during the final dinner you have with the community, you truly see how much it means to them. The food was always delicious, and spanned from traditional ecuadorian, to more conventional north american foods. I have many many allergies and they accommodated them very well. Finally, the tour guides and leaders that you meet and spend your time with are without a doubt the most kind, caring, fun, wonderful people I´ve ever met. I hope to come back next year.

Yes, I recommend
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Gabby
10/10

Life Changing Experience

Overall this was the most amazing experience of my life. I am leaving a completely changed person. The activities were amazing, the people were unbelievable and the overall experience was life changing.

Starting with the med rotations, the best part was seeing actual surgeries being performed. It was amazing to see everything I have learned in school be put into practice. I also enjoyed going to the ER and learning from the tutors.

Next I also did an extra week to the Galapagos which was SO AMAZING. I highly recommend that if you are considering going you do. I had so much fun doing all the activities and for me the highlight was snorkelling with the animals. I didn´t think it was possible to see so many animals and get so close to them!

The tour around Ecuador was also so much fun! I loved all the places we visited and the activities were amazing! The highlights for me were the hike in Banos, the cable car in Banos, the hike in the jungle and the time spent relaxing in Canoa. For me I love to be active and do activities that involve adrenaline and thats what this trip provided!

Lastly, the volunteer portion was so humbling and powerful. I have never felt so much joy in my life then when I was working with the community and getting to know them. The highlight for me was just being with the people. They were the most grateful and hard working people I have ever met and they truly changed my life.

The downsides to the trip for me included the food, the internet access, and the case studies. The lunches especially were not that healthy and we often ate the same thing. The internet was not always reliable. This was not a problem during the tour because I was so busy with everything else that I didnt need my phone but during the med rotations it was annoying. Lastly, the case study was a little stressful. In the end I learned a lot from it and am glad I did it but it was not very enjoyable at the time. The other difficulty was the time. You really had to go with the flow and be patient because the times they told you were not always correct.

Although there were a few difficulties, I would still say that this is the most amazing thing I have ever done in my life. I would encourage anyone coming on the trip to just go with the flow and you will have a blast!

How can this program be improved?
The food was the only big issue that I had. I would recommend healthier places and to ask the student what they would like before each meal. Also to eat earlier and go to better lunch places. Also I would put less pressure on the case studies and so it as more of a learning experience and make it less intimidating. Lastly, I would do less museums and not advertise that the volunteer portion is one week because we ended up only working for 3 days.
Yes, I recommend
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Alex
5/10

If it wasn´t for the med portion...

This trip did a really good job of the medical portion of the trip each student we worked with was extremely proffesional and we were given amazing oppurtunities and great experiences. The rest of the trip I was significantly less satisfied with, as opposed to a selfless culture of volunteering it seemed more focused on the volunteers having fun than on actually helping the people. Almost a white saviour complex was developed as opposed to actual relationships with the people. The cost was also rather high for the places we stayed in and what we ate, it seemed rather evident to most people that the company was making alot of money off of us. The staff also seemed a little confused as to when things were happening and never really seemed on top of things, there were constant changes to the schedule and some things were just skipped. The people I met on the trip however were generally pretty kind and awesome. Overall I´d say the trip was alright, but could use significant improvement.

No, I don't recommend
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John
8/10

Ecuador volunteering!

This program is super amazing, it´s difficult to pick my favourite part. The people I met were absolutely incredible, the volunteer was super heart warming, and the med rotations were absolutely phenomenol. The problem with this trip is the cost, for $3,700 you get to stay in places that are probably and average of $10 a night, and the meals are also super cheap. If you love to meet amazing people, and you really want to see some amazing things in an Ecuadorian hospital I highly recommend this program. If you want to do this to travel, and even volunteer, then I would definitely recommend a different program. All in all I am super glad I took part in this amazing program, and the people and things are amazing, however this program is not without its faults.

How can this program be improved?
Could be more organized at times, and a budget to see where the money we pay goes would be great too!
Yes, I recommend
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ccater
9/10

Pre-Med

This trip was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I got to meet so many interesting people, form the leaders and tour guides, to the other volunteers, to the community members in Camarones. One of my favourite things about the trip was how much we really got to interact with and get to know the families that we were building the houses for. I will never forget the incredible people that we got to help out that week.

The hospital rotations were also such a great experience. The med tutours are awesome and getting to observe surgeries so closely is an opportunity that is very rare to get as an undergrad student. At first I wasn't sure how I felt about having a case study as it was summer and my break from school work. However, it ended up being really interesting and beneficial and I actually really enjoyed doing it.

We also got to travel around and see a lot of Ecuador. My favourite stop would have to be Canoa where we got surfing lessons, spent some time in town, and had The Amazing Race. I was travelling with such an amazing group of people, so everywhere we went was always so much fun.

How can this program be improved?
Before leaving for the trip I really had no idea what to expect. I found we were given fairly little information prior to getting to Ecuador. I wasn't in one of the main cities so I fundraised alone and didn't have any group meetings. I didn't meet anyone from the trip until I was on my way to Ecuador so I felt a little uninformed. Once I got to Ecuador however, I felt like everything was run smoothly and I had no real concerns. It would have been nice to at least have been given some sort of confirmation that someone was going to be at the airport in Ecuador to meet me once I got there.
Yes, I recommend
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GabiK
9/10

Absolutely Amazing Experience

This is absolutely a once in a lifetime kind of trip where you not only learn about a new culture and people, but also about yourself. I am a biology nut, so at he beinnin. of my trip I was most looking forward to traveling to the Galapagos and the jungle. And both of these were absolutely amazing. The Galapagos are the most unique place on the earth, where animals are not as scared o humans and the ecosystem is beatifully preserved. From snorkeling with sea turtles to hanging out in gorgeous Tortuga bay, this place is like nothing else. And tubing down a calm river to get to your hotel in the jungle is just really fun. But as much as I loved these places, by the end of the trip my favourite time had been spent building houses in the small village of Camarones. There is nohig like the feeling of helping out another person and the fact that tou are there physically immersed in the community is amazing. You get to work, play and even dance alongside the villagers an feel how much your effort is truly appreciated. This trip not only shows you more of he world and teaches you about yourself, but also builds friendships and connections. Everything from meals and accomodations to the experiences is planned and always good quality. Overall would highly reccomend this trip to anyone looking to broaden their horizons.

How can this program be improved?
My one criticism is that it is a bit disorganized before departure, but once you get to Ecuador everything is sorted out and the trip itself is relaxing and fun.
Yes, I recommend
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EChen
10/10

Experience of a Lifetime!

Going on this trip has definitely been one of the most life-changing experiences of my life. Not only did I gain valuable medical education from my week of med rotations (where I got to observe hernia repairs, knee reconstruction surgery, C-sections, live births, hysterectomy, etc), but I was also able to become more well-rounded as an individual. Everything we did during the discover portion of the trip, such as waterfall rappelling, jungle hiking, tubing down rivers, and surfing, taught me something new about myself and helped me learn to appreciate nature so much more. The most amazing part of my experience was the volunteer portion. Not only was it rewarding to be able to provide families in need with sustainability and to have such a positive impact their lives, but it was also heartwarming to be able to share this experience with the families, community, and my HLD family. I could not have asked for a better experience and will always be so grateful for the amazing second family I was able to meet on this trip.

Yes, I recommend
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Kevin
10/10

Great experience!

This trip was a great experience. All our days were busy and I was able to learn a lot.
From volunteering, to touring the cities and doing med rotations, I learned a lot about the culture, the people and also myself. It was a good balance of socializing and also doing hard work at the volunteer site. The country is beautiful and this trip definitely was able to show all the great things that the country had to offer.

How can this program be improved?
More time at the volunteer site!
Yes, I recommend
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July
9/10

Trip of a lifetime

This was a fantastic trip that allowed me to see so much of Ecuador with new friends! Everyone on the trip was great including the leaders. The food and accommodations were good and the volunteer site was a great experience.

How can this program be improved?
I would change the cost but that is a hard thing to change ! Overall it was great!
Yes, I recommend
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MaricelyE.
9/10

Best Ecuaexperience

This trip was truly a once in a lifetime experience. I was lucky enough to be a part of the pre med program in July. The first part of my trip was at the volunteer site which was actually my favourite part of this whole program. There are really no words to explain how amazing it was to meet the families, play with their children and work on the houses with them. The work was hard but everyone was always laughing and joking around I would usually forget how tired I was. Throughout the week we got to play soccer against their local team and they threw us a goodbye party. The people at the volunteer site were what made this trip unforgettable for me.
The next part of my trip was the medical rotations. I am honestly so glad that I had the opportunity to experience this because it made me realize how much I want a career in the medical field. Usually I have a tough time waking up in the morning but knowing that I had med rotations I would wake up right away. Everyday I learned something or saw something new. The med tutors were great at explaining what we were seeing and were always happy to answer any questions. I really appreciated how interactive the whole experience was.
The final part was the discover portion which was so much fun. We got to visit so many different areas of Ecuador. My favourite part was Canoa which is where I got to do the amazing race, surf lessons and paragliding all in one day! Throughout this time I got to go waterfall rappelling, tubing, hiking through the jungle, visit a chocolate factory and stand on the Equator line. I would easily recommend this program to all of my friends because I know they are guaranteed to have an amazing time.

How can this program be improved?
A little bit more organization would have been nice, sometimes I felt that we were waiting around but overall no complaints.
Yes, I recommend
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Amanda
10/10

Fantastic Program!

I can absolutely say that this program lived up to every expectation I had and more. It was a life changing month filled with new adventures every day. From waterfall rappelling to hiking through the amazon, each day was filled with something new and exciting. The volunteer portion of the trip was incredible as well, it was so rewarding to spend time working for families that were so grateful for what we were giving them. It is such an amazing feeling to know that you are working hard to make a difference in another person's life. I was in the biomed group so I also travelled to Galapagos Islands, which was one of the greatest weeks of my life. I loved the water activities such as snorkelling and kayaking. At the end of the month, my group participated in hospital rotations, which was an incredible learning experience. It was amazing to be so involved and up close to surgeries in the hospital. Overall, this program was really incredible and I will always remember the impact it made on my life!

Yes, I recommend
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Diego
9/10

HLD- Amazing Experience

At first i was hesitant regarding the trip. Financially it can be a bit demanding and seemed a little disorganized. After arriving however, everything exceeded my expectations and had one of the best experiences of my life.

From the learning aspect, the ability to have such a close up look into the medical field was mind blowing. Everyone was extremely knowledgeable and very helpful. It was also a very fulfilling trip with the ability to help in the community. Physically helping with the construction of houses was rewarding.

Not only focused on helping and learning, we were also given a great opportunity to see the country and experience the culture first hand.

How can this program be improved?
Little disorganized at times and can be frustrating trying to get ahold of the company from a different country.

I think that a little more organization when it comes to travel arrangements and the use of time in different locations would be something to change
Yes, I recommend
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Anna
9/10

May 2013 Ecuaexperience Vollunteer

This was the trip of a lifetime and a wonderful opportunity to learn and grow on an individual level as well as gain valuable life experience. Not only did I learn more about the world I live in but, I also had the opportunity to meet a lot of fantastic people both on the trip (students, staff and guides) and in the local village of Camarones.
It's challenging to find one main highlight for the trip as each component provided a very different and amazing aspect of the Help, Learn & Discover program. The volunteer site was such a powerful experience for myself and spending 12 days there was very worthwhile. The gratitude, love and kindness of the people there is overwhelmingly beautiful. It was also wonderful to see the progress on the homes day by day and see the difference
that everyone's hard work made.

The Learn component is geared towards students who are in the bio/pre-med program. Although I have not done this program I would highly recommend it to any student who has ever thought of becoming a doctor. It provides very practical experience and you will finish the program knowing if that is the career path for you.

The Discover portion was fantastic!! We did everything from waterfall repelling and white water rafting in Mindo to volcano hikes and snorkeling in the Galapagos (take the extra week and go to the Galapagos, it's breathtaking) to surfing lessons in Canoa.

How can this program be improved?
It was a bit of a challenge to find food to accommodate dietary restrictions, but you can bring your own (bars/snacks) or purchase extra food along the way (it's very inexpensive).
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...