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Ecuador & Galapagos

25 Days

High School Service Program
Construction and Environmental Projects
with Spanish Immersion

JUNE 29 to JULY 23 |  25 DAYS
80 HRS SERVICE  |  TUITION $5950

JUNE 28 to JULY 23
25 DAYS
80 HRS SERVICE
TUITION
$5950

Program Overview

Settle into the village life of Patate, a charming town in the foothills of the Ecuadorian Andes near the still-active Tungurahua volcano. Work on school and public infrastructure projects, take mountain hikes and make tamales—all while improving Spanish language skills. Round out the journey with three days in the legendary Galapagos Islands, swimming with sea lions, snorkeling at reefs and doing conservation work in the National Park.

WE ARE MINDFUL

“I loved being able to help at the school as well as reforest at the farm. The people at the worksites were so dedicated and inspiring, they made me want to do a great job.”

Lauren Colella

Pennsylvania

Embracing Projects That Matter

Service projects in Ecuador are as diverse as the country itself. For the last seven years, VISIONS has worked closely with the Patate Municipality, local schools and a social welfare organization to determine the most pressing needs. Teen volunteers have built greenhouses, kiosks for artisans to sell their wares and even a museum addition. Past VISIONS students also completed significant renovations to La Casa de Ancianos (an elders’ home), where you may help meet current needs from gardening to building repairs. Construction projects include adobe and masonry work to expand and improve area schools. You’ll work side by side with our local maestro, Segundo, who shares his skills, his spirit and his Spanish tips. Additionally, you will entertain young kids at the Gotitas de Miel daycare center. During the excursion to the Galapagos Islands, we’ll carve out some time to assist the National Park with environmental initiatives, such as removing invasive plant species and helping out at the Giant Tortoise Reserve.

WE ARE FAMILY

“My beliefs, values, and morals changed in ways I will never fully understand, and the sense of camaraderie with the other participants is something I will never let go of.”

James Robbins

Arkansas

In this country of contrasts—high mountains and ocean beaches, modern amenities and mule and oxen farming—one constant is the welcoming, friendly spirit of the people. The Ecuadorian townsfolk are eager to get to know visitors from far-flung places, and to share ages-old traditions in farming, cooking and crafts.

Making Meaningful Connections

It’s easy to feel like family in Patate. The residents of this agricultural town of 15,000, located 2.5 hours south of Quito, are easy-going and quick to smile. You’ll be immersed right away, as VISIONS volunteers are housed in a church located directly across from the town plaza. This Plaza Central is a popular gathering place for street soccer, food markets and live music. Local artisans will teach you some of the many crafts produced locally, including weaving, pottery and embroidery. And in a region known for its diversity of crops (avocados, mandarins, limes and grapes), you can bet that our cook and house mom Lupe will be sharing culinary tips, including how to make quimbolitos (sweet tamales). In the Galapagos, we’ll stay in a small family hotel run by longtime VISIONS friends Nelly and Javier, who’ll take you boating and to a cookout at their farm. All this cultural immersion means plentiful opportunities to speak Spanish—and make personal connections you’ll never forget.

Our
Home:
Patate,
Ecuador

WE ARE EXPLORERS

“The Galapagos Islands were incredible. I have always wanted to try snorkeling so I was very excited that we did that on the trip, and it was so cool to see sea lions (Los Lobos de Mar) underwater. I also loved the Mundug hike we did while based in the Andes. It is a beauty that is not capable of explaining in words.”

Lizzie Edwards

Oregon

From the agricultural foothills of the Andes Mountains to the stunning beaches of the Galapagos Islands to the historic capital of Quito, Ecuadorian exploration traverses an incredible array of landscapes. Hike to scenic waterfalls, soak in natural hot springs, swim with sea lions and fall in love with the “Republic of the Equator.”

Setting Out To Go Beyond

The geographical variety of Ecuador makes for unforgettable exploration—and you’ll take full advantage during your stay. Whether you’re relaxing after a workday by hiking to an Andean waterfall, spending an entire day getting to know a local family or traveling to a neighboring town such as Baños, with its hot springs and thermal baths, your experiences will be eye-opening and mind-expanding. In the capital city of Quito, you’ll roam the cobblestone streets and cathedrals of this UNESCO World Heritage site and learn about 16th century Spanish colonization. When you reach the Galapagos, every step (and splash) you take will feel like an adventure, with gorgeous beaches to swim, reefs to snorkel and abundant wildlife to watch, including sea lions, giant tortoises and blue-footed boobies. As you stroll along the shores and nature preserves of San Cristóbal island, you’ll quickly understand why naturalist Charles Darwin called the Galapagos “a little world within itself.”

ACTIVITIES AND EXCURSIONS

  • Travel to the Galapagos Islands, where you’ll swim with sea lions, visit the Giant Tortoise Reserve and relax on incredible beaches
  • Visit Quito, UNESCO’s first World Heritage Site
  • Check out the highland town of Baños, with a hot spring, thermal baths and lively local scene
  • Hike to scenic vistas and waterfalls
  • Enjoy an immersive day stay with a local family
  • Take cultural workshops including cooking, dance lessons and weaving
  • Play games and sports with local kids
  • Dig into artisan markets replete with Andean crafts

LOCAL SPOTLIGHT

Cedric Alvarez

Project Manager and Program Assistant

Cedric Alvarez was born in the buzzing coastal city of Guayaquil, gateway to Ecuador’s popular beaches and a jumping off point for the Galapagos Islands. But he grew up in tranquil Patate, and has lived there ever since. We were introduced to Cedric in 2011, by a partner organization who sang his praises as someone who is capable, trustworthy and a hard worker. We couldn’t agree more.

Cedric is a fireman (or “bombero”) who works 48 hours on and 48 hours off. We got to know him when VISIONS students were helping to build a dormitory addition for the volunteer firehouse. Just as with firefighting elsewhere, being a bombero is a lot of work and extremely demanding—particularly in terms of the unpredictable schedule. The Patate crew responds to emergency calls of all types for the entire valley, and many of the close-knit crew make the firehouse their temporary home, living in the dormitory quarters.

When Cedric isn’t on-call at the firehouse, he lives in a small house with his wife and daughter. Because he’s been in Patate since he was a baby—not to mention his outgoing personality—he seems to know everyone in town. He clearly enjoys working with VISIONS students, and all the kids adore spending time with him. He’s friendly, full of laughter, and always lends a hand (usually two) when we need expert assistance on home base repairs or extra help on construction projects. Cedric has told us he is overjoyed to be collaborating with VISIONS and our students, to which we respond, the pleasure is ours.

Ecuador Blog Posts

Projects | Ecuador 2018

Projects | Ecuador 2018

Yet another successful summer of community service in the rural communities of northern Ecuador! See photos and details of the projects completed by this year’s team of high school volunteers and talented leaders…

Spotlight: Kodee Cloninger

Spotlight: Kodee Cloninger

Kodee will be returning to Ecuador for her sixth summer with VISIONS and is excited to share her passion with another group…
“Through its focus on community and communication VISIONS has given me the opportunity to accept myself for my greatest strengths and weaknesses…”

VISIONS REVIEWS

Read what others have said about their experience in this location. You also are welcome to contact the VISIONS office to request student and parent references.

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Cedric Alvarez

Project Manager and Program Assistant

Cedric Alvarez was born in the buzzing coastal city of Guayaquil, gateway to Ecuador’s popular beaches and a jumping off point for the Galapagos Islands. But he grew up in tranquil Patate, and has lived there ever since. We were introduced to Cedric in 2011, by a partner organization who sang his praises as someone who is capable, trustworthy and a hard worker. We couldn’t agree more.

Cedric is a fireman (or “bombero”) who works 48 hours on and 48 hours off. We got to know him when VISIONS students were helping to build a dormitory addition for the volunteer firehouse. Just as with firefighting elsewhere, being a bombero is a lot of work and extremely demanding—particularly in terms of the unpredictable schedule. The Patate crew responds to emergency calls of all types for the entire valley, and many of the close-knit crew make the firehouse their temporary home, living in the dormitory quarters.

When Cedric isn’t on-call at the firehouse, he lives in a small house with his wife and daughter. Because he’s been in Patate since he was a baby—not to mention his outgoing personality—he seems to know everyone in town. He clearly enjoys working with VISIONS students, and all the kids adore spending time with him. He’s friendly, full of laughter, and always lends a hand (usually two) when we need expert assistance on home base repairs or extra help on construction projects. Cedric has told us he is overjoyed to be collaborating with VISIONS and our students, to which we respond, the pleasure is ours.

Ecuador Blog Posts

Projects | Ecuador 2018

Projects | Ecuador 2018

Yet another successful summer of community service in the rural communities of northern Ecuador! See photos and details of the projects completed by this year’s team of high school volunteers and talented leaders…

Spotlight: Kodee Cloninger

Spotlight: Kodee Cloninger

Kodee will be returning to Ecuador for her sixth summer with VISIONS and is excited to share her passion with another group…
“Through its focus on community and communication VISIONS has given me the opportunity to accept myself for my greatest strengths and weaknesses…”

(For those enrolled)

Celebrating 30 Years