Location
  • Ecuador
Length
3 to 6 weeks
Financial Support
Need-based funding, 529 Plan eligibility
Health & Safety

Program Details

Language
Spanish
Age Min.
15
Age Max
19
Timeframe
Summer
Housing
Host Family

Pricing

Price Details
Financial assistance is available. Program fee includes all in-country expenses like lodging, food, private transportation, COVID-19 tests, PPE, entrance fees, etc.
What's Included
Accommodation Activities Meals Transportation
What's Not Included
Airfare
Jan 10, 2023
Nov 15, 2023
10 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

Learn about the world by living in it! Since 1965, AMIGOS has provided the safest, most authentic service and immersion experiences in Latin America. Living and working in a new community gives you the chance to improve your Spanish, make an impact, gain confidence, and build leadership skills. You'll get to see the world in a truly unique way!

Join our programs in Ecuador to experience the unique cultures in this South American nation. From the Andes to the Amazon and the coast, Ecuador has incredible geographic and biological diversity. Choose the program that fits your interests!

Video and Photos

Program Highlights

  • Go beyond travel and become part of a new community
  • Make real friendships that last a lifetime
  • Support community initiatives through ethical service, earning 48 service hours
  • Improve your Spanish through authentic cultural immersion
  • Live with a host family and get into the rhythm of daily life in your host community

Program Impact

Support community organizations and meet local farmers and advocates. Explore Ecuador while focusing on the AMIGOS program pillars of ethical service, cultural humility, and leadership.

Popular Programs

AMIGOS volunteer with her host family in Ecuador

High in the Andes mountains, immerse yourself in rural Ecuadorian life. During your time living with a host family, you might learn to harvest potatoes alongside your host dad or help your host sister milk the family's cows. Throughout the summer, you’ll work with Ecuadorian students on entrepreneurial projects. You will travel to regional workshops, build your business savvy, and work on sustainable, youth-led microenterprises.

AMIGOS volunteers on the La Sierra Project, 2022

How does the popularity of superfoods impact resources, water, and food sovereignty in Andean communities? Travel to the highlands of Ecuador to find out! Through visits to farms, communities, and national parks, experience Ecuadorian agricultural practices and learn about the connection between rural and urban areas via food production. Hear from community members and learn about cosmovisión, the way in which the indigenous culture understands the world.

View of the Santa Elena Province from an AMIGOS host community

Venture into rural, coastal communities throughout the beautiful province of Santa Elena, Ecuador while volunteering and living with a host family! Earn 48 service hours while supporting local initiatives to empower youth through collaborating on service projects. Truly immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of Ecuador's Pacific coast by getting into the day-to-day rhythm of life in your host community.

At least two years of high school Spanish (or the equivalent) are required.

Program Reviews

4.86 Rating
based on 35 reviews
  • 5 rating 85.71%
  • 4 rating 14.29%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 0%
  • 1 rating 0%
  • Impact 4.75
  • Support 4.95
  • Fun 4.85
  • Value 4.7
  • Safety 5
Showing 1 - 8 of 35 reviews
Default avatar
Julie
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Wonderful Program in Ecuador with AMIGOS INTERNATIONAL

My daughter participated in both the Chimborazo, Ecuador program and the Costa Rica program with AMIGOS International. She helped with a Sea Turtle program, built a trail, harvested potatoes, helped build a greenhouse, learned about the local ecosystem and indigenous cultures, helped cook local recipes with her host family, milked a cow, practiced her Spanish, and made many new friends. For parents who want their child to gain cultural awareness, practice a second language, improve their self confidence, and participate in community service, AMIGOS makes sure youth can do this safely, with appropriate supervision, and at a reasonable cost. AMIGOS provides pre-trip training for youth, has staff available for any questions or concerns, and helps students with fundraising for their trip.
AMIGOS has been sending students overseas for many decades so they know how to run a great program.

Pros
  • Your child will practice and gain confidence with the Spanish language
  • Your child will be immersed in another culture
  • Your child will participate in ethical community service
Cons
  • You need to accept you will not be in constant contact with your child while they are away
  • Best to plan ahead and take Spanish classes before you go
  • Sign up early or the program you want may fill up. There will always be a spot available in a different program though
13 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Aimery
4/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Santa Elena Ecuador 4 Week Program

My AMIGOS summer program experience was incredible. I went to Santa Elena, Ecuador and stayed there for 4 weeks in total, 3 weeks in a host family. Throughout the entire trip, I met a ton of awesome people and learned a lot of Spanish and more importantly, about the culture and people. The first few days in Ecuador were spent with my other volunteers and Project Staff.
We bonded over the course of those days and went over how to be safe and healthy as well as what we would be doing in our communities. Friendships between us volunteers turned into who our community partners would be and too soon we were sent into community in groups of 2 and 1 group of three because we had an odd number of volunteers.
Being in community meant being in a host family and speaking in Spanish full time. I especially had to really only speak in Spanish because I was grouped with a Ecuadorian volunteer named Christopher.
We both had our own host families. My host family was so nice and welcoming even though I was a complete stranger living in their home. My host family consisted of my host dad, Joffre, my host mom, Diana, my older host sisters, Vivianna and Geovanna and finally my younger host brothers, John and Mateo. At first, I was shy with both my host family and Christopher but soon enough I grew comfortable around them and was able to talk to them freely and confidently.
My community, Buena Fuente was a really small community where most people knew each other and it was safer than I could have ever imagined. Most of the shops I saw in Ecuador were held in someone's home and my host family actually ran a shop where they mostly sold ice cream. Their shop ties into the community being safe because my host family's front door was almost always open during the day for the community's people to just come by and buy an ice cream because of Ecuador's hot and humid climate.
The work that Christopher and I did in community was host "extracurricular activities" in meetings on weekdays in the "Casita PLAN" which was a little building that had been built up by the organization PLAN International. During those meetings, we would try to get as many kids from the community to show up and we would have lessons about how to have a healthy hygiene, why throwing away trash is important, that the kids need to hone in on their skills and try to follow in the steps of their most significant role model. Each session started with a little "get to know you" game so that the kids could move around and get excited for the day.
Since I love playing soccer and the kids over there did too, they would drag me over to play with them and it was really fun. Sometimes we could play for hours and then have to go home because it was getting too dark to see. Playing soccer was one of the main things I did during my time in Ecuador. I was lucky to be in my specific host family because my host brother, John, loved playing soccer as well and we would play together in the afternoons with the other kids from the community but also kick a ball around inside the house.
Due to AMIGOS not allowing devices on the program, I had a lot of spare time that I didn't spend on my phone. With that time, I read the books I brought to country, I hung out with Christopher and talked with my host family about what life looks like in my city.
My host mom, Diana, would do most of the chores around the house like cooking, cleaning and doing the laundry. Most of these things I help my family do around my house and I was expecting to do more chores than I ended up doing because Diana would just tell me not to worry and do it for me.
Despite what I thought before going to Ecuador, the people of the community didn't live in poverty and although they might not have as big a house as I do, they had the essentials and were living happily.
Overall, the experience was great and I have no regrets because although some of the extracurricular activities were difficult to teach to the kids, I feel I really created lots of connections with everyone there. My host family became a close second family and I am so grateful to have been their volunteer because they really changed me. The most important things I got out of being in a home stay for three weeks in Ecuador are the friendships I made with all the people I met in Buena Fuente, what I learned about the culture in Ecuador and how I was changed in just a month.
The program went by quickly, unlike my 12 hour stay in the Panama Airport both ways. The day I had to leave my community with Christopher, all the kids were allowed out of school to come say bye to us. It was heart-warming that so many children were really eager to give us hugs and say their farewells. I hugged many of the little kids and said goodbye to all my friends and my host family. A lot of people were crying because of the sad moment and when I saw my host brother -who had become my favorite person in the community- crying, I cried as well which shows how attached I had become to Buena Fuente.
I will always remember that moment as one of the many beautiful events I was able to be a part of during my time in Ecuador.

Pros
  • I got to learn about a whole different culture and people and I got to experience the daily life there.
  • My Spanish speaking abilities and confidence were greatly amplified by participating in this program because I had to speak everyday and figure out ways to communicate.
  • I was able to make a ton of new friends and really take the time to learn about myself and
Cons
  • Communication from AMIGOS wasn't optimal when outside of the project country.
31 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Liana
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Ecuador - Santa Elena (2023)

This experience was absolutely amazing and I would highly recommend the Amigos program. During my time in Santa Elena, I had the pleasure of working closely with the community and with one of Amigos' partner organizations. I met so many incredible people, and had the experience of fully immersing myself in the culture through the program's homestay feature. I made great friendships with the other volunteers, and the entire staff was very responsive, supportive, and made it a great experience for all!

27 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Jake
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Ecuador - Santa Elena 2023

This program is absolutely amazing. You get to work so closely with families in a small community to work toward a valuable, long-term goal. The experience of living in a small town where everyone knows everyone, and everybody is the nicest person you've ever met was completely unique to someone like me who comes from the suburbs. This program showed me what it was like to live in a community and gave me the opportunity to give back to that community. All of my fellow volunteers were incredible, and the project staff constantly worked to make sure we had the best experience possible.

39 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Isabell
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Ecuador: Santa Elena

Choosing to spend six weeks of my summer in Ecuador was one of the best decisions I have ever made! Over the six weeks I realized how much I love to speak Spanish and appreciate using my Spanish to listen and learn people's stories. I stayed with two different host families, giving me a chance to experience living in two very different communities. Amigos Immerse helped me to gain more independence and self confidence after two years of being constrained by COVID.

Living with another family for an extended amount of time allowed me to experience life with my host families, from celebrating family milestones, the small activities of watching telenovelas after dinner, to cooking dinner with the family. I spent a lot of my time sitting in the kitchen helping my host mom cook or just talking to my host siblings about their days. In the evening we would often play cards, something everyone in the family from the five year-old nephew to my host mom loved. It was a great time for me to share games I enjoyed playing and they taught me games they enjoyed, and of course, UNO was a big hit.

Another big part of what I did was running Talleres, camps for the kids in my community, five days per week. We taught the kids about ecology, recycling, creative expression, and leadership. While planning our lessons we tried to incorporate games to make it fun. It really taught me to think on my feet and be flexible to adjust the activity to support the kids energy on a specific day.

AMIGOS offered such an amazing opportunity to be able to have new in depth experiences, in Spanish to learn from others, while at the same time learning so much about yourself. AMIGOS cares so deeply about all of their volunteers and over the past 60 years has learned how to best support teens while at the same time letting them have their own experience that is unique and special to every person who participates.

If you are thinking about participating in an AMIGOS immerse program I would strongly encourage you to do it, you won’t regret your decision.

Pros
  • You learn so much about the communities you are living in
  • You get to practice your Spanish in a way very different then learning in the classroom
  • Trying new and delicious food!
77 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Lily
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

If you're thinking about it, do it!

My six weeks in Ecuador were unforgettable. From bonding with the group during briefing and debriefing to creating memories with my host family and community, I formed amazing connections that will last me a lifetime.

In the community I stayed in, my partner and I got to paint two murals alongside community members: one about reproductive and sexual rights and another about the importance of recycling. Throughout the process, I learned new skills, built my Spanish vocabulary, and became a much more confident leader. The best part is that the community members were the ones teaching and supporting me, not an Amigos staff member. This aspect makes Amigos programs so impactful: they provide the perfect amount of guided independence, which means they trust participants and host communities to learn the most from each other. My supervisor was there if I needed him, but he was in no way overbearing, which gave me the space to make the most of my experience in a safe way.

Aside from the murals, my partner and I also led workshops four days a week for the kids in the community. We focused on a handful of themes: Ecology and The Environment; Creative Expression; Leadership and Civic Participation; Nutrition and Food Safety; The Rights of Children and Adolescents; and Community and Personal Health. The kids brought the most amazing, fun energy to the workshops, which made each day a new adventure. This time was also perfect for practicing Spanish because I really had to think on the spot when leading the workshops. If you go, I recommend making a Wall of Work to display the activities the kids do during the workshop -- it's cool to look back on in the end.

When not leading workshops or painting murals, I would spend time playing cards with my host family, learning about their lives, learning to cook, and sometimes hiking. Participants can also get permission to go on excursions with their host families.

If you are thinking about doing Amigos, do it! You will leave the experience with a new appreciation for the world, a stronger grasp of the Spanish language, and long-lasting connections.

Pros
  • Amigos creates the perfect amount of independence
  • It's the perfect experience for language and cultural immersion
  • To an extent, you can tailor the program to align with your passions and interests.
73 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Nisha
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Ecuador: Santa Elena

One of my favorite aspects of being an AMIGOS participant is the homestay experience. I got to spend 4 weeks with a host family in Ecuador, which was an amazing way to connect to the culture. A big part of why I enjoy speaking Spanish is the ability to talk to other people and learn from them. I had an incredible host family who was so open to sharing their life with me, and I had so much fun spending time with them and learning how to cook or play games that they enjoy. I also learned more about myself and how to form deep connections with people in a short amount of time. I love the opportunity to get to live in a place for a few weeks, rather than just visiting the touristy parts of a country. It means that I got to connect with my host family, but also with others in my host community who worked on the project with me or just saw me walking around and wanted to talk. The freedom that AMIGOS gives participants is a beautiful responsibility because it means that we can explore the community we're living in without our hands being held the whole time. The standards of conduct are easy to follow and don't prevent fun and exploration. AMIGOS can definitely be a challenging experience, but both times I have done it, the highlights have been more than worth the challenges.

67 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Natalie
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

La Sierra Experience

The La Sierra Ecuador trip was truly amazing. It was 3 weeks full of farming and new experiences. I would recommend this trip to everyone because it was such an impactful trip full of learning and growth. I was able to connect with my Ecuadorian family at La Granja as well as all of the other volunteers. It was a great way to expand my Spanish and have an amazing summer! I met so many new people all across the United States who I still stay in contact with today! I hope everyone takes the opportunity to go on this awesome trip!

Pros
  • Meeting new people
  • Learning more about a different community
  • Experiencing travel by yourself
Cons
  • Being away from your home for 3 weeks
  • We experienced protests which sadly made us not be able to leave the farm.
  • Not having a lot of freedom.
72 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers