Projects Abroad Volunteer Programs in the Galapagos

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Projects Abroad has been providing volunteer placements in the developing world since 1992. Our volunteers directly impact local communities through service projects arranged and coordinated by expect in-country staff.

Volunteer in Ecuador in the Galapagos Island Teaching English, Arts or Sports, working in Environmental Conservation ,or Caring for children or Coaching Sports. Visit our site for more details!

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Reviews

84%
based on 8 reviews
  • Impact 7.3
  • Support 7.9
  • Fun 8
  • Value 8.6
  • Safety 8.9
Showing 1 - 8 of 8
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Sara
10/10

San Cristobal Fun

Hi my name is Sara Stewart. I am an early/childhood education major at SUNY Cortland. This past winter I went to San Cristobal in the Galapagos islands in Ecuador.
My project that I had was teaching children in Ecuador English. I taught four classes every weekday and I planned lessons in the morning for a hour. All of the classes I taught were very different from each other. The first class I taught was a beginners class. This ranged from students who were typically five to six years old who barley knew any English. The next class I taught was advanced. This class consisted mainly of seven to eight year olds. The advanced class has mediocre English skills and the aspect that these students struggled with most was grammar. The third class I taught was level five. Level five consisted of eight to ten year olds. These students spoke some clear statements, but these students as well struggled with grammar. The last class I taught was a conversation class. This was the most advanced class I taught. This class consisted of twelve to fourteen year olds. These students when I were there had a one on one helper and I was one of the students helper. The whole time you would talk in English and ask the students any questions that cam dot your mind. This program had many supplies that you can use in your classroom and were willing to add anything you thought would be beneficial to the classroom.
The staff support was amazing. They provided me with transportation the minute I got off the flight. They introduced me to mu host family right when I got there. Later on in the first day they showed me where I would be working. They explained to me what was expected of me. Then they walked me around to show me where some cool places were. The first day of volunteering they picked me up and made sure I learned the walk to the work place. They also help me meet other volunteers. They also helped me to get adjusted to teaching ESL learners. They provided me with the resources I needed to teach the children. They even let me work on the conversation for a morning to see the turtles.
There are many activities to do on the Galapagos. I wish I had more time because there was so much I wanted to do! One thing I would recommend when being on San Cristobal is doing the 360 tour. During this tour you are on about ride. The boat ride takes you to many beaches that you couldn’t get to other than by boat. It then it takes you to other amazing snoring sites, such as my favorite kicker rock! When Snorkeling in kicker rock I saw hammerhead sharks and a few Galapagos sharks. I also saw sea turtles and many exotic fish it was a great experience! This tour was very affordable and I would highly recommend it. San Cristobal has another beautiful site, which is the volcano. The volcano doesn’t have may tourists that come to visit, but it is one of the most beautiful sites on the island. On the island there are tons of beaches, there are tons of beautiful hikes and tons of water activities that are worth checking out. The wild life is also amazing! The turtles park is a must see., They have a conversation for the turtles. You can see really tiny ones up to ones that are huge and are older
than one hundred years old. San Cristobal is an amazing place. Anyone who has the opportunity to go I would highly recommend it. I would also suggest going to the other two islands, that is the one aspect that I regret not doing most!

How can this program be improved?
I wouldn't change anything about this program!
Response from Projects Abroad

Dear Sara,

It sounds like you had a wonderful time in Ecuador, both on your project and exploring the islands. We are glad to hear you made such strong connections with your students. Thank you for sharing!

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Alexander
8/10

Teaching English in the Galapagos Islands

Travelling to the Galapagos Islands was quite the experience. I worked with some excellent and very supportive staff members. They helped me design my schedule and catered to my needs and interests. I spent a lot of time with other volunteers in the organization who made the experience so much more memorable.

Teaching English to children was a great time, and there was so much joy and laughter that was spread that it radiated the entire island. My host family was great as well. I was given a private room, had three meals a day, and got to learn a little bit about their style of living. This is definitely one of the best experiences I have had traveling, and I would recommend this location to anyone looking for an adventure!

How can this program be improved?
Reduced cost. There was a 100$ fee to enter the Islands that could have been avoided with a note for volunteers.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Liz
10/10

Galapagos Volunteer

I decided to volunteer in the Galapagos Islands as a dance instructor with Projects Abroad. I was highly impressed by the professionalism of the staff. From being picked up from the airport to being shown and introduced to my placement, I always felt safe and taken care of. The airline actually lost my luggage on my way there and the PA staff was extremely proactive about tracking my luggage down and getting it to me as soon as possible. The PA staff also did a fantastic job of planning fun social outings and activities for all of the volunteers. I was lucky enough to stay with a truly AMAZING host family who went above and beyond to ensure I was happy, comfortable, and well fed.

Response from Projects Abroad

Hi Liz!
Thank you for sharing, we always look forward to hearing back from our volunteers! Our local staff is always happy to help our volunteers in any way they can, so we are glad they were helpful getting back your luggage! Sounds like you really enjoyed your stay with your host family and the social outings with the rest of the volunteers! Hopefully you can all stay in touch with each other! Let us know!

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Haleigh
10/10

Conservation, adventure & life long memories

I spent 6 weeks in San Cristobal volunteering in conservation. I was initially looking for a study abroad program but was uninterested in the classes that were offered. After some research I found this project. Initially I was worried that we would not truly be making a difference or working very hard. However, upon arrival I met the staff who were extremely dedicated and passionate about conservation and preserving the incredible biodiversity that exists in the Galápagos, I quickly realized this would not be the case.

We worked from 7AM to 12PM and 3PM to around 5PM Monday through Friday. On Fridays we had the afternoon off. On MWF we spent the morning in the Galapaguera which is the tortoise breeding center on the island. We would cut Otoy to feed the tortoises and spend several hours doing machete work to remove invasive species like blackberry and lanta. On Tuesdays we would go to the Otoy plantation to clear blackberry in the effort to later reforest with endemic species. We also spent a considerable about of time building a greenhouse which was difficult work but it was also very rewarding. In the afternoons we generally did less physically demanding tasks such as iguana monitoring, bird monitoring, and campaign. We also worked very closely with the National Park. I spent two weeks doing sea lion monitoring at 5:30AM every morning which was a spectacular experience. There is nothing like watching the sunrise on a beautiful beach full of sea lions in the Galápagos islands.

While not working I spent a lot of time with the other volunteers snorkeling or visiting the beaches near by. The animal life in the Galápagos is phenomenal! Every time I snorkeled I saw at least two sea turtles and while I was there I saw sharks, manta rays, dolphins, marine iguanas, sting rays, sea horses, sea lions, and of course a plethora of beautifully colored fish. The closest beach was only a 10-15 minute walk away. I also went island hopping with a great group of people. Traveling to Santa Cruz and Isabella is fairly inexpensive and I would advise everyone to experience the other islands while they are here. I also took a tour around San Cristobal which was fantastic.

Another aspect of the trip that I loved was meeting volunteers from all over the world. I did not think it was possible to get so close to people in just 6 weeks. I already have plans to meet with some of them in the near future. You will meet so many remarkable people in this program. We all went out almost every night and enjoyed learning about each others respective countries and cultures. I met volunteers ranging from 15 years old to 53 years old and we all got along wonderfully. There is a sense of community in this program that is extremely unique.

I cannot speak more highly of this program and I would do it again in a heartbeat. My only complaint is that I couldn't stay longer. Be prepared to work hard because you will be expected to. The work is rewarding and I loved every minute of it. Your Spanish will also improve greatly especially if you spend quality time with your host family. My host family was very kind and the food was amazing! I hope that you will consider the Galápagos for your next volunteer trip. I am so glad that I did!

How can this program be improved?
I think the program could be improved if it was a bit more structured and everything ran on time. But overall I think the staff did a great job.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Ron
1/10

Waste of Money, Time, and Abilities

The Projects Abroad operation in the Galapagos was a waste of our money, time, and abilities. If you are a young college student with low expectations and looking for a reason to getaway from home, then this placement is perfect. If you truly care about adding value to the conservation or education programs in the Galapagos, then look elsewhere.

Our three weeks there consisted of very little value-add work; most of our time was spent standing around, doing busy work, or working only a fraction of what we were promised.

Some examples: pulling weeds ‘outside’ the greenhouse on a plot of land where they do not grow anything and where volunteers had uselessly weeded three weeks earlier. Another example: 15 volunteers on a tortoise weighing project that only needed 4-5 people; everyone else stood around for 5 days. Then, after we spent 3 weeks measuring 50 tortoises, the park ranger quietly told me that none of the measurements actually get permanently recorded. Another example: two volunteer teachers were signed-up for teaching English, but when they arrived to the Galapagos, schools were on Summer break. Another example: a volunteer English teacher was given a group of kids where the age range started at two years of age. Most students were too young to even say their name in Spanish, let alone English; so she spent her volunteer time as a babysitter. Another example: for a simple beach clean-up, they had us work on a clean beach versus a garbage laden beach just down the road. Despite everyones recommendations to maximise our efforts on another beach, our young 19 year old Projects Abroad manager decided to cut short the work day. We can go on and on with examples.

We have been in marketing and brand-building for 15 years, have multiple degrees, and in our opinion, for Projects Abroad to be marketing this program to prospective volunteers is a travesty. We spent a lot of money, and all we wanted to do was work hard and lend a hand in building a strong conservation project in one of the most ecological sensitive areas in the world. In return, we were under-utilised by Projects Abroad staff and chastised for wanting to do actual conservation and education work.

Look elsewhere. In our opinion, there are far better organisations that you can connect with and where you can add true value to this incredible part of our planet.

Response from Projects Abroad

Dear Ron
We're very sorry to hear that you did not enjoy your experience in the Galapagos, and that you feel you didn't make the kind of contribution you expected. We take this kind of feedback very seriously and we are always looking to improve our projects.

As you know through our direct and detailed correspondence we’ve already had with you, we investigated the issues you mentioned and made changes in several areas where your expectations were not met. We even took the step of sending our Global Conservation Director to Ecuador to carry out the investigation when you first raised these concerns. You should also know that we have recently appointed a new manager to lead the Galapagos Conservation team.

We continue to believe in the value of the work our volunteers do in the Galapagos, and each activity, as minor as it might seem at the time, works towards long-term goals. The Galapagos National Park struggles with limited resources, and our efforts there make a significant difference and help the local park authorities and staff, even if this might not always be visible during a short visit.

Kind regards,

Greg Thomson
Operations Director
Projects Abroad

No, I don't recommend
Default avatar
Lauren
8/10

Conservation/ Teaching English

I spent 6 weeks on the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador working on preserving and restoring its delicate ecosystem. That project lasted 4 weeks, and the last two weeks I spent helping teach English at a local high school.

The family I stayed with was completely wonderful. They provided three meals a day (always filling and delicious) and even had a housekeeper! I was given my own private room and bathroom that had a separate entrance from the house itself. While I did not get as close to my host family as other volunteers did, I always enjoyed talking to them and their large extended family. My house was in a fairly central location and I could easily walk anywhere in the city in no more than 20 minutes!

In regards to my volunteer experience, it was the opportunity of a lifetime. During the environmental portion, I was able to see and do things all over the island that tourists are unable to do. I fed tortoises over 100 years old, walked through and restored parts of the island that no tourist has been to before, etc. We ended each day by 1 o'clock, so I had the rest of the day to explore or just hang out on the beach with other volunteers!

The teaching experience was OK. It was very easy (but slightly boring). I helped grade homework and tests, as well as helped the teacher with punctuation and grammar rules.

The staff was extremely helpful in answering all questions I had and even helped me and my friends plan a weekend getaway to another island nearby.

I would definitely recommend the environment program to anyone interested!!

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Kieran
10/10

Teaching for 4 weeks in the Galapagos Islands

For four weeks this summer, I had the incredible opportunity to volunteer in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador through Projects Abroad teaching English to students ages 6-15. From the very first minute that we signed up for the project, Projects Abroad staff was incredibly helpful and supportive. The volunteer coordinator called us multiple times to make sure all of our questions were answered and we were prepared for the experience. In the country, the staff checked in with us daily about how we were adjusting and if we had everything we needed. They made it clear that they were there if we needed anything, even something as small as asking where to buy a water bottle or something as large as helping us plan a weekend trip. The staff was friendly and knowledgeable and made an effort to get to know us and welcome us into their work family.

Staying with a host family instead of in a hostel was an incredible decision and I'm so glad that Projects Abroad could set that up for us. I also didn't know when applying, but found out from the staff in the country, that a lot of our program fee goes to paying the host families to help them support us while we stay with them. My host family was amazing and I never heard any bad reviews from any other volunteers. The staff also made it clear that if we weren't comfortable with our host family, all we had to do was speak up and they would help us solve the problem. Staying in a host family's house really allowed us to grasp the culture and get a much closer look at how daily life on the islands looks.

Teaching was such an amazing time! Although it was challenging that we did not have a curriculum, the kids were so great and working with them every day was so much fun and so rewarding that it made the challenge almost disappear. I really felt like we could connect with the kids and make as big an impact on them as they made on us!

I would truly recommend Projects Abroad to anyone. They facilitated an amazing experience!

How can this program be improved?
Instituting a curriculum into the teaching program in Ecuador would make it 100 times better. When volunteers are placed, they likely have no ESL experience and the fact that no curriculum is in place makes it hard to know whether or not lessons are appropriate, helpful or constructive. While it is possible to make up lessons on your own and creativity is encouraged, a curriculum of topics that the children should cover would be helpful so that volunteers do not constantly re-teach what other volunteers already covered and really help to advance the students' knowledge.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Emma
10/10

Teaching in the Galapagos!!

I went to the Galapagos Islands to teach English for a month though the program Projects Abroad. The staff was incredibly supportive, not only passionate about their work, but also personable and kind to every volunteer. Immediately I felt looked out for and like all my needs we're being met. For my teaching project, I worked at one of the local high schools. I was paired with an English teacher and helped him plan lessons, grade, and worked with him on his pronunciation. I lived with a well selected host family. Every volunteer had such a great experience with their families and the staff constantly checked in to make sure there were not issues. I had the opportunity to see so much on the galapagos, it was far and away better than I could have ever imagined. I met so many amazing people, locals and volunteers. Projects abroad really immerses you into the culture of the country and by the end you feel like a local, living with a family, working with locals, discovering the secrets to the country or area that tourists don't always know about. I always felt safe and loved every minute of my volunteer trip!

Yes, I recommend

About Projects Abroad

Projects Abroad is a global organization formed around the need for gap year programs abroad designed for students taking a break from studying. Since its inception, Projects Abroad has expanded to offer high school volunteer programs, and a vast...