1- How was the local ABV Coordinator and the support provided in-country?
The local ABV coordinator was very friendly, welcoming, helpful, informative, and respectful. She was very passionate about Ecuador and the clinic, along with willing to help answer questions or provide information when needed.
2- What was the most surprising thing you experienced?
The most surprising thing that I experienced was learning where the clinic’s speech and language therapy materials came from, along with the requirements for licensed speech therapists in Ecuador. More of the materials are from Spain or other South American countries, like Argentina, than the United States. I was unfamiliar with many of their formal and informal assessments and screenings. Luckily, I had the opportunity to administer some of these materials and learn from the speech therapists at the clinic, along with teach them about the materials I use in the United States.
3- What was most difficult to experience?
The most difficult thing to experience was completing a language assessment at the clinic on a child who spoke a little Spanish and Quechua. The child and his mother were difficult to understand due to the language barrier. I don’t believe the Ecuadorian SLPs spoke Quechua, but they could better understand the mother’s accent.
4- Any tips for future volunteers… (Clothing, travel, personal items, donations)
For future volunteers, I recommend bringing clothes for all seasons. Some pants and long-sleeved shirts for the evenings and shorts and t-shirts for during the day, as it is humid. A rain jacket and/or umbrella will be handy on a daily basis. I recommend donating to your project and bringing a small gift for the people you live with, as it’s a kind gesture and will be extremely appreciated. I recommend studying the basics of the language where you intend to volunteer to better immerse yourself into their culture. I also recommend researching basic information about the country you will be volunteering in to provide you with more knowledge of what volunteering there will be like, so you can better adopt once in country.
6- Personal Paragraph (ABV Program Testimonial):
Volunteering through ABV has been an awesome experience! This was an amazing first trip to South America, and I’d love to go back. Working and serving in Spanish speaking countries has always been one of my life long goals, since high school. The ABV Program trip to Quito, Ecuador provided me with the opportunity to enjoy two of my main passions in life simultaneously, which are traveling and helping others. I was given the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those I served in Quito, Ecuador, along with the medical professionals at the Ecuadorian clinic and other volunteers who went on the trip. I plan to cherish and share what I learned from this trip as a professional and in my personal life. Thank you!
7- How would you describe your accommodation, meals, security (e: host family, on-site, shared)
The apartment I stayed in was nice and very spacious. The family was very welcoming and treated me as family. I was provided with three delicious meals a day. I will miss the cooking. The apartment had a security guard who helped me enter the apartment, even though I had a key.
8- What was your favorite memory of this trip?
My favorite memory of this trip was building relationships with the clients and medical professionals at the Ecuadorian clinic. I was provided the opportunity to treat and assess children with speech and language impairments at the clinic alongside the medical professions and students. I learned a lot from them, and they were also fun of questions related to my bilingual speech therapy position in the United States. I really enjoyed sharing knowledge with the people of Ecuador. I’m extremely grateful and appreciative for the time I spent there.
9- How was the ABV USA support prior traveling?
The ABV support in the United States prior to traveling was good. They responded to my emails in a timely manner and checked in on me. They were very patient with my travel plans, which I’m very grateful for. Although, they did not always have answers to my questions on the spot, they would answer the best they could or state that they’d have to get back to me.
10 – Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers?
I am willing to speak to other volunteers.