Gap Year Program: Quito, Ecuador


Gap Year Program in Quito, Ecuador

About the Location

Although relatively small in size, Ecuador is a world-renowned biodiversity hotspot. From the Amazon to the Galapagos, the richness of Ecuador’s natural resources is unparalleled. In regards to society, Ecuador has enjoyed a period of relative stability since the turn of the century. One reason is the adoption of the United State dollar as the country’s currency in 2000. This has lessened the currency fears that hounded the Ecuadorian economy before.

However, Ecuador faces serious challenges. Its natural resources are coming under attack and, while there have been efforts to conserve the local biodiversity, many areas are nearing irreversible points of destruction.

In terms of socioeconomic development, Ecuador lags behind most of its neighbors. Poverty rates have fallen in recent years, but Ecuador continues to have one of the highest poverty rates in the region and large parts of the population, especially indigenous groups, are economically and socially disenfranchised. For example, while access to elementary and middle school education has expanded to nearly all Ecuadorians, the quality of education for the poorest remains far below the national average.

With Ecuador’s increasing reliance on the volatile energy sector, especially oil, there are serious concerns about Ecuador’s ability to continue lifting its population from poverty. Moreover, considering the links between conservation and poverty, a worsening of poverty in Ecuador has negative implications for the environment.




What do volunteers do?

Volunteers serve in a center for elderly people who have no family to support them. Most are very poor and depend entirely on the center to survive. They live at the center, and volunteers are very important in helping the local staff, which is much too small because of financial constraints. Volunteers partake in all activities, especially helping to create a light and fun atmosphere. They make art with the elderly, as well as lead leisure activities around music, theatre or whatever particular interest volunteers have. The elderly women and men are extremely appreciative and excited to have volunteers with them, and some of the most memorable moments for volunteers come from just sitting, talking and sharing. As needed, volunteers also help the local staff on light housekeeping activities like serving meals.

Requirements to participate:

-The patience and sensitivity to connect with senior citizens.
-A very caring and open attitude.
-Spanish is not required, although at least a basic level is helpful.
-Education and/or professional experience in a caregiving-related field is not required.



What do volunteers do?

Volunteers work in a day-care center four to six hours a day. Volunteers work with children ranging from babies to 5 year-olds, depending on the local need. Volunteers engage the children through various activities like making art, playing games and singing songs. Volunteers also work with the local staff to lead learning activities, for example on culture, recycling and good personal hygiene. As needed, volunteers also help with feeding and cleaning.

Requirements to participate:

-The energy to keep children stimulated.
-A very caring and open attitude.
-Spanish is not required, although at least a basic level is helpful.
-Education and/or professional experience in a caregiving-related field is not required.





What do volunteers do?

Volunteers work four to six hours a day in an after-school center or local public school to help teachers teach basic to intermediate English to children ranging from 5 to 18. The courses are either part of the children’s regular coursework or extracurricular. Volunteers work with the local teachers to develop lesson plans, lead classes and implement learning activities like games, shows, storytelling and songs. As the classes can be very crowded, volunteers are also important in keeping order. Finally, during school holidays, volunteers may have the opportunity to teach English to children and young adults from the neighborhood where volunteers live. These classes are much smaller and focused more on conversation than following a set curriculum.

Requirements to participate:

-At least an advanced level of English.
-At least a basic level of Spanish.
-The creativity and initiative to lead classes with limited resources.
-Teaching experience and/or certifications are not required.



$930 for 4 weeks
$1890 for 12 weeks
$3370 for 24 weeks


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