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.