1- How was the local ABV Coordinator and the support provided in-country?
The local coordinator was amazing and provided complete support. The coordinator here really goes above what is expected. She helped us figure out the best form of transportation to various weekend destinations. She even came with us on one weekend trip. She also makes sure to ask often how the project is going and will talk to the director of the project if there is a problem.
2- What was the most surprising thing you experienced?
The most surprising thing I experienced is that in Ecuador everyone wants you to close car doors really slowly. This is silly, but it is a good example of some of the many cultural differences. There is not a right way to close the car door, and the great thing is when I explained to taxi drivers that our custom is to close it well and I always forget, we all laugh about it.
3- What was most difficult to experience?
The most difficult part for me was being away from all my friends and family. I came for the full 12 weeks and had contact with my parents only once a week and most of my friends less often. It was definitely worth it though to come and the family I stayed with helped me out about a week in when I got home sick. The mom especially was a great friend. It was wonderful to have her around and I really think she helped me grow as a person.
4- Any tips for future volunteers… (Clothing, travel, personal items, donations)
Make sure to bring shampoo, lotion and the like because it is slightly more expensive in country. Also, I did not leave enough space in my bag for souveneirs and had to buy an extra bag. It is a good idea to leave lots of extra space when packing.
5- Other things volunteers should know:
If you do not know any spanish at all it is possible to come. However, if you have time before coming it is a good idea to take some sort of basic lessons or use an application. It really enriches the experience if you are better able to communicate with everyone. The immersion will really help with learning spanish no matter what level you have at arrival.
6- Personal Paragraph (ABV Program Testimonial):
This experience was a wonderful opportunity to greatly improve my spanish and also learn alot about another culture. It definitely takes you out of your comfort zone, but is well worth it. I will carry this experience with me for the rest of my life.
7- How would you describe your accommodation, meals, security (e: host family, on-site, shared)
I lived with a host family and with a few other volunteers. The house was very nice and all of the meals were home cooked and catered to dietary needs. I am a vegetarian and they were very good about making sure there was something for me to eat without making me feel like a burden.
8- What was your favorite memory of this trip?
My favorite memory is swimming in a waterfall in the jungle. It was chilly, but I went with another volunteer and some other travelers we met that day. I never would have been able to meet those people or be in that place if I did not travel here with ABV.
9- How was the ABV USA support prior traveling?
It was very good, they answered all of my questions promptly. I had no problems. There is a bit of a disconnect between the information about the project and what the project actually is.
10– Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers? of course