1- How was the local ABV Coordinator and the support provided in-country?
The local ABV Coordinator was amazing. She is one of the most outgoing and genuinely caring people that I have ever met. She constantly went out of her way to make sure that my program and Spanish lessons went smoothly and to ensure that I felt welcomed in her home and in Quito. Any time I had a problem, she was there to help me figure it out. I cannot say enough good things about her and I was lucky to have such a great person supporting me in a new country.
2- What was the most surprising thing you experienced?
The most surprising things that I experienced in Ecuador were how well I got along with the other ABV volunteers and how much of Ecuador I was able to see. There were four other ABV volunteers here during the time that I stayed in Ecuador and we all became really good friends. During the weekends, we took trips to Otavalo, the beach in Tonsupa, and Teleferico among other places. I also climbed to the top of La Basilica and saw the Old City in Quito. It was so much fun to experience so many different things and it was a pleasant surprise that the other volunteers were so great.
3- What was most difficult to experience?
The most difficult thing for me to experience was the language barrier. When I came to Quito, I did not know any Spanish at all. During my four weeks, I learned a lot and my Spanish improved drastically, but it was still very hard to understand other people and, in particular, to have conversations.
4- Any tips for future volunteers… (Clothing, travel, personal items, donations)
The weather in Quito gets very cold at night, so be sure to bring some warmer clothes for the evenings. Also, some personal items, particularly creams and lotions, are very expensive in Ecuador. So, if you are going to be here for an extended period of time, pack accordingly.
5.1-Other things volunteers should know:
a. I think it is worth it to learn at least some Spanish prior to coming to Ecuador. It will enhance your relationships with other people and make the experience more fun.
b. Be willing to travel on the weekends. Even though some trips are long, it is so much fun to experience all that Ecuador has to offer.
6- Personal Paragraph (ABV Program Testimonial):
The ABV program was everything I expected and more. The kids at the day care center were such a joy to work with. Even though it was difficult to communicate with them, playing with them and seeing them smile always brightened my day. Additionally, the women in charge at the center were so kind and easy to work with. As I previously mentioned, the other volunteers were also great. We had so much fun together and it made the trip so enjoyable to be able to share the great times with them. Finally, I want to thank the host family. You guys are amazing people and I’m so glad I got to spend time under your guidance.
7- How would you describe your accommodation, meals, security (e: host family, on-site, shared)
My accommodations in Ecuador were terrific. I lived, along with two other volunteers, in an apartment located directly above my host family. I had my own room with air conditioning and a comfortable bed. The host family provided three terrific meals a day, and there was more than enough food to satisfy my sometimes insatiable hunger. The apartment building was extremely secure and I felt safer at home than anywhere else.
8- What was your favorite memory of this trip?
My favorite memory of this trip is all of the time I spent with the other volunteers and with the children of the host family. All of the trips that we took together were so much fun, and I loved being able to build relationships with people from all over the world. At night, we would play cards and talk about our experiences volunteering at our individual programs, or about our lives in our respective homes. I will never forget my time in Ecuador because of the people I got to meet.
9- How was the ABV USA support prior traveling?
The ABV support in the United States prior to traveling was outstanding. I was well informed about everything that I needed to bring for the trip. Additionally, I was contacted via email so that if I had any questions, I could have asked them before leaving the United States.
10 – Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers?