Name: Jennifer Cyr
Hometown: Bolton, Connecticut
Nationality: United States
Languages spoken: English, Spanish (advanced)
Occupation: Sales Associate at Munson’s Chocolates
Volunteer Abroad: Forest Conservation and Sustainable Farming in the Galapagos, Ecuador
Duration: 2 weeks
Start month: May 2018
Why did you decide to become a UBELONG Volunteer?
This was my second UBELONG trip (my first trip being to Peru in 2017), and I decided to join because of my love for travel and helping others. It is a great way to become fully immersed in the culture, instead of just being a tourist. Living among the locals, and seeing and being a part of their day-to-day life, really transports you into their way of life, and is a great way to broaden your horizons on many levels.
UBELONG also offers the flexibility to choose when you go, and for how long, and makes preparing for the trip straightforward and uncomplicated. They are there to support you every step of the way. Two of my hometown friends joined me in volunteering in the Galapagos Islands, and there were a lot of laughs and amazing experiences shared together.
What impact did you make on your volunteer project?
At the volunteer project I was able to plant seeds of endemic plants in the nursery, and plant pineapples in the pineapple fields. Another task was to identify, track, and photograph the birds at the biological reserve. I also went on hikes to waterfalls and learned about the land along the way from members of the local team including Cesar and Carlos who also live at the reserve. I got to collect guavas, and make the guavas into a puree in the kitchen with Sonia, which we would then make into fresh juice to be served with our meals. It was a very educational, eye-opening, and fun experience.
How did you grow personally during your volunteer trip?
I grew personally during the volunteer trip by adapting to the environment and being flexible. I did get an injury while away (it could have happened anywhere), but I was able to make the best of the volunteer trip, and had plenty of help from everyone at the reserve, including Cesar, who went above and beyond to make sure I was okay.
I got to visit some amazing places during our free time on the weekends including Kicker Rock, La Galapaguera (a tortoise reserve), and lava tunnels on Santa Cruz Island. Some of my favorite times were playing card games like Cuarenta in the evenings with the other volunteers and staff, and seeing dolphins while on a 360 degree boat tour of San Cristobal Island.
In a sentence or less, how would you sum up your volunteer experience?
It was the experience of a lifetime to be able to live and volunteer on a biological reserve in the Galapagos Islands.
The impact of UBELONG Volunteers in the Galapagos.