ECUADOR & GALAPAGOS

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

Your home base is the village of Patate, a welcoming rural community at the base of the Andes Mountains. Learn how to build with adobe, block, and mortar, contributing to schools and housing projects. Also, spend time with local families, learn from local artisans, and play street soccer with neighbor kids. And a Galápagos visit, with environmental work, snorkeling and swimming with sea lions, tops it off.

PROGRAM DATES

June 30 to July 24 $6150

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WHAT WILL YOU ACCOMPLISH?

Learn the art of adobe and masonry construction working closely with local schools and organizations that address social welfare and housing in Patate. You will contribute to renovation projects, help at a small daycare, and perform environmental tasks in the Galápagos.

WHO WILL YOU IMPACT?

Patate is a small town where welcoming townspeople and rural families want to get to know you. You will spend time with families, attend workshops with artisans, and play street soccer with neighbor kids, discovering the universal appeal of Ecuador, and the Valley of Eternal Spring.

WHERE WILL YOU EXPLORE?

Hike to a breathtaking Andean vista and visit the popular mountain town of Baños, where we tour the markets and soak in natural hot springs. In the Galápagos, you will snorkel incredible reefs, swim with sea lions, and watch giant tortoises, ending with a visit to the city of Quito.

WORK ON SERVICE PROJECTS THAT MATTER

Projects in Ecuador are a blend of adobe and masonry construction. VISIONS works closely with the local municipality, schools and other local organizations that address social welfare and housing in Patate. Teen volunteers have completed significant renovations on La Casa de Ancianos, an elders’ center for people who otherwise did not have a place to live. Students also have built modest homes, kiosks for artisans to sell their wares, school additions and bathrooms, greenhouses, and more. Each workday you will choose from two or three projects, including helping at a small daycare for young kids. During our stay in the Galápagos, some time is carved out for environmental projects.
VISIONS Ecuador Service

FEATURED PARTNER

One of our partners: The Parque Nacional Galápagos aims to protect the islands’ wildlife and ecological systems. The islands are a UNESCO site, and in 2007 were added to the list of World Heritage Sites in Danger. While in the Galápagos, VISIONS teens help to remove invasive plant species that threaten native habitat.

CONTRIBUTE TO A COMMUNITY THAT WELCOMES YOU LIKE FAMILY

Patate is a small town with welcoming community members. Farms and hillsides roll into the Andes, and townspeople as well as rural families want to get to know you. Plaza Central is a common place to gather for games, markets, music, and seeing friends. You also will spend time with families during a few dinner stays, attend workshops with artisans, learn to make quimbolitos and other Ecuadorian food from our cook, and get into spontaneous games such as street soccer with neighbor kids. You will discover the universal appeal of Ecuador, and our area of Patate, which is aptly known as the Valley of Eternal Spring.

OUR HOME BASE:

PATATE & SAN CRISTOBAL

We live in the picturesque Andean town of Patate, home to about 15,000 people in central Ecuador's Tungurahua Province. The region's rich soils yield a diversity of crops that coin it the “bread basket of Ecuador.” Our first days will unfold on the Galápagos island of San Cristóbal.

We started our work in Ecuador in 2004 under the guidance of a VISIONS director who had lived in Ecuador as a Fulbright Scholar and who forged relationships with unique individuals in the capital city and small villages alike. As with all VISIONS programs, we settle down in our host community for most of our time in Ecuador. Unique to other sites, however, we spend the last four days in another location—the island of San Cristóbal in the Galápagos Islands.

Weekend summer adventures include hiking to a breathtaking Andean vista and visits to the popular mountain town of Baños, where we tour the markets and soak in natural hot springs. During our time in the Galápagos, we go snorkeling at incredible reefs, swim with sea lions, and get close up to blue-footed boobies and giant tortoises. Before the program ends, we even have time to visit Quito’s ancient cathedrals and colonial zone, UNESCO’s first World Heritage Site.

EXPLORE ECUADOR & THE GALAPAGOS WHILE YOU EXPERIENCE VISIONS

DAILY LIFE

We live in a community center not too far from Patate’s Plaza Central. There are bathrooms and showers, a kitchen and comedor, communal space, and a bunk bed awaiting each person.

Our service projects take place five days a week and usually end by mid-afternoon. Most days you get to choose your worksite from a range of physical work and some social projects. Once a week, you will be on “homebase crew” with a few other participants and a leader. The crew makes breakfast and lunch, goes to the town’s marketplaces to buy food for the next meals, drop off laundry, helps our dinner cook with preparations, and simply enjoys a “day in the life.”

Afternoons after work tend toward cultural activities and nearby excursions. It’s time to get to know our neighbors, visit mountain farms, play games with local kids, participate in several artisan workshops, practice Spanish, and sometimes just have a break before dinner.

As with all VISIONS programs, we work hard and we also play hard in Ecuador. In addition to afternoon activities, some days are for travel and full-day excursions.

Meals include Ecuadorian and American cuisine, and always with enough for seconds. Vegetarian and meat options are always available, and there are healthy snacks available during the day. A few nights a week after dinner, we meet as a group to talk through the volunteer and immersion experience.

VISIONS is not a teen tour with a day-to-day travel itinerary. Instead we settle in to our home base and are part of daily life. The itinerary provides some of the highlights of our time in Ecuador.

ITINERARY

First Day

  • Arrivals to Quito & Hotel Overnight

During Trip

  • Fly to Galápagos & Afternoon Beach Time
  • Boat Trip & Snorkeling
  • Turtle Reserve, Island Tour, and BBQ
  • Depart Galápagos to Quito. Drive to Patate and Welcome!
  • Orientation & Town Tour
  • Day Stay with Local Families
  • Baños Hot Spring Town
  • Family Visits & Market Day
  • Andes Hike
  • Patate Goodbye Dinner
  • Drive to Quito & Tour the Colonial Zone

Last Day

  • Departures from Quito

 

MORE DETAILS

  • Summer leaders meet each high school volunteer upon arrival at the Quito airport. We stay the first night at a hotel in Quito and drive to our home in Patate the next morning. Leaders also see each participant off from the airport at the end of the program
  • Parents receive a phone call or email once their child is met by VISIONS leaders at the airport. After that, phone calls home are generally limited to once a week.
  • We live together as a group in a community center, and boys and girls sleep in separate areas. A bunk bed awaits each person, and participants bring their own pillow and sleeping bag.
  • VISIONS has a 1 to 4 or 5 leader to student ratio, one of the best ratios among summer programs. The maximum group size is 25, and programs are gender-balanced. Most participants attend alone, and no more than two friends may attend a program together.
  • We emphasize an inclusive group dynamic. Things like age and grade become less important on a VISIONS program. We eat most meals and do most activities as a large group, and we break into small rotating groups for workdays.
  • Details such as a packing list, travel notes, and health forms are provided upon enrollment through login web pages. The process is straightforward and we are here to help. VISIONS travel agent books flights, which are not included with tuition.
  • Airfare to/from Galápagos is included with tuition.
  • 80 community service hours are awarded on successful completion of the program.
  • Prerequisite: One year studying Spanish, whether high school or middle school Spanish. This is VISIONS one full-length Spanish program that has a one-year prerequisite instead of two-year.

Program Director(s):

NOT QUITE READY?

We'd be happy to get you in touch with a parent whose child has already been through one of our programs.

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