I went on three trips to three countries and spent a total of 12 weeks abroad. I went to Ecuador (5 weeks), Dominican Republic (5 weeks) and Thailand (2 weeks). While in Ecuador and Dominican Republic, I spent a week getting Spanish lessons where I got to practice talking in Spanish while learning about the country. With the lessons, the teachers also provide dance lessons, salsa in Ecuador and meringue in the Dominican Republic, and cooking lessons to show off to volunteers’ friends back at home. While there, I stayed in local families in Quito, Ecuador and Santiago, Dominican Republic for the lessons.
Then, I traveled to my volunteer site. In Ecuador, I stayed in a local village in the Amazonian Jungle where my group helped teach English and helped take care of cocoa plants. The cocoa plants were used so the village could sell the cocoa bean and make money from that so the village did not have to rely on money from the oil companies who are destroying the rainforest.
For my Dominican Republic trip, I stayed a seminary (ISV has no religious affiliations) that was near the school and worksite. Half of the group went to the school and taught English and other fun stuff for educational summer camps while the other group was building a community center that was to be used by 17 communities. Then the groups switch the following day. The kids loved having us as much as the workers who watched over us during the build.
Lastly, I spent a couple weeks in Thailand where I spent the first week working at a school where we helped finished building a new classroom for the school and spent time playing with the kids. During this week, we learned about Thailand, the culture, the Thai language, and Buddhism. My group was even fortunate enough to witness Mother’s Day in Thailand which was extremely emotional for the Thai parents and kids as well as my group. The following week, I spent a week at the Elephant Nature Park where I helped the park take care of the elephants. Mainly our tasks were to clean pumpkins for the elephant’s lunch, get corn stalks for the elephant’s dinner, or clean up after the elephants that morning. Around lunch and dinner, volunteers and visitors were allowed to feed and bathe the elephants. Volunteers that are interested in veterinary could watch veterinarians apply medical care to the elephants.
Along with the volunteer project, most of the volunteers through ISV can do another two weeks touring the country. I extremely recommend this because one does more in two weeks with ISV and he or she can do in a lifetime. In Ecuador, I went rock climbing and mountain biking one day to climbing to the tropical glaciers on Cotopaxi, Ecuador’s most active volcano, to white water rafting to surfing on the beach and watching humpback whales. Ecuador has it all! I also went did the two weeks in the Dominican Republic where I did as more water activities than I thought was possible. From going surfing to jumping off waterfalls to white water rafting before exploring the colonial center in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic it has everything you want in a tropical island.
I highly recommend this company which has allowed to me to travel and to see the world differently that a normal tourist would not see. While there, I got to make a difference to someone and made some great friends in the process. You will not be disappointed with ISV!