1- How was the local ABV Coordinator and the support provided in-country?
Overall, it was outstanding. I was fortunate in that my ABV Coordinator and my host family were the same. My ABV Coordinator was always extremely helpful in making sure I found my way around, took me to places where I needed to go at times, and feel welcomed and appreciated. She was able to answer any questions that I had regarding my project or taking advantage of sightseeing in and around Quito. My coordinator also arranged for my Spanish lessons and provided a location for us to meet.
2- What was most difficult to experience?
Not speaking Spanish was the most challenging aspect of my experience. However, I was lucky in that there were two German volunteers at my project that spoke very good English so that make my work experience manageable. And there were some English speakers at the home of my host family. I learned to get by with my limited Spanish.
3- Any tips for future volunteers… (Clothing, travel, personal items, donations).
Don´t bring more than you will really need. It never gets really warm in Quito nor really cold, so bring clothes you can layer. There are lots of tour agencies that have one day and multiday trips in and around Quito. Shop around for the right trip at the right price for you. There are lots of small group trips that are affordable and offer wonderful experiences with visitors from all over the world. If you like museums, Quito has some really good museums and a couple of outstanding ones as well.
4-Other things volunteers should know:
When you first arrive, you may feel a bit out of place and have second thoughts, but within a week to 10 days you will adjust to your new life in a different country and realize what a wonderful and interesting place it is and how kind and helpful everyone is to you.
5- Personal Paragraph (ABV Program Testimonial):
I had some concerns because I am an older volunteer (66) and wasn´t sure if I would fit it. However, I was always treated as if I was one of them and a valued member of volunteer community. My age was not an issue in the least. I really enjoyed the children and staff at the school where I volunteered. And my second family in Quito. I will cherish all of my memories of the people I met and the experiences I had. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.
6- How would you describe your accommodation, meals, security (e: host family, on-site, shared).
The meals were always delicious examples of Ecuadorian foods. The meals were always healthy, ample and varied. The accommodations were very comfortable and all that I could have asked for. I always felt very safe, both at my home in Quito and at my project site. Security is taken very seriously here.
7- What was your favorite memory of this trip?
My favorite memory is the memory of meeting lots of new people from so many different countries in Ecuador. I met people from India, Germany, Panama, Canada, Switzerland and different parts of the United States. I seemed to immediately bond with fellow travelers and they to me. It’s a wonderful feeling that you can only get from sharing new experiences with other travelers.
8- How was the ABV USA support prior traveling?
They were great. I had to postpose my trip for a couple of months and they were very understanding and worked with me to reschedule my trip. Staff was great about keeping in touch both in the planning stages and after I had finalized my trip as well.