Volunteer Work Program in Quito, Ecuador
Straddling the equator, from which the country gets its name, Ecuador shares borders with Peru, and Colombia and boasts a population of thirteen million inhabitants. Ecuador has three main geographic regions, plus an insular region in the Pacific Ocean. The coast is comprised of a low-lying littoral found in the western part of the country. In the center lied the high-altitude mountain range of the Andes. In the eastern part of the country lies the Amazon rainforest accounting for just under half of the country’s total surface area even though less than 5% of the population live in this zone. Finally, the Galapagos Islands, made famous by Darwin, is found 1,000 kilometers west of the mainland and makes for a unique and exotic excursion.
Ecuador’s mainstream culture is defined by the country’s mestizo majority and, like their ancestry, is a mixture of European and Amerindian influences infused with African elements inherited from slave ancestors. Ecuador’s indigenous communities are integrated into the mainstream culture to varying degrees, depending on the region.
The capital of Ecuador, Quito, is located in a beautiful valley surrounded by the snow-capped peaks of the Andes. It is a city of Franciscan tradition and surprisingly friendlier and with a safer feeling than other large Latin American cities. Furthermore, it has kept its colonial charm in spite of growing to the size of 1 million. But, somehow, Quito retains a small city atmosphere – probably because you can still walk to many places you need to go. Distances are short and the bus system is quite extensive.At 2,850 meters, Quito is the second highest capital city in terms of altitude in the world. Moreover, Quito is located only 35 kilometers away from the equator and is known locally as “la mitad del mundo” (the middle of the world).
The historical center of Quito was appointed a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1978 and has many appealing plazas and baroque churches, including the Cathedral, the convent and church of St. Francis, which is the largest building of the Colonial era built by the Spaniards in South America.
Quito has relatively good communication links to the rest of the country. It is the financial, political and administrative center of the country. After the Galapagos Islands, it is the most visited tourist center of Ecuador. Travel by land and air to other points in South America and the world is easier than from most other locations within the country. Its location makes it ideal for access to most other areas of the country, including beaches, mountains, and the Amazon basin. For visitors who like shopping, Quito is Ecuador’s most important marketing center for the country’s artisan products, lying very close to some of the major production areas and indigenous markets. While life in Quito is not the least expensive within Ecuador, it was considered as recently as four or five years ago, to be the cheapest capital city in the world when expenses are calculated.
The weather in Ecuador is surprisingly moderate year round. The climate is dictated by the altitude, and remember, you are on the equator. From tropical beaches to snow-capped volcanoes one can find in Ecuador every climate zone known on Earth. Its climate has been described by many as eternal spring, due to its location close to the equator at high altitude. It has a daily average temperature of about 18°C, with daytime highs around 23. Absolute highs reach 29 and lows about 5 on rare occasions. Quito’s weather is most famous for its unpredictability. It is important to take layers of clothing, such as a turtleneck, sweater, and jacket as non of the building have heat or air conditioning.
don Quijote partner school in Quito
Our school is situated in a lovely residential area of Quito, knows as “La Carolina”. It is conveniently located one block away from the bus system. The school is housed in a beautiful new mansion, surrounded by gardens in a quiet residential area. Students enjoy the racquetball court, video room, salon, and dancing areas. A small cafeteria provides snacks, drinks, salads, coffee, tea etc. Classes may be held in small groups (max. 4) in lounges or outside in the garden. Indoors and outdoors is set up to an individual preference. Clothing is usually casual and comfortable amongst the students and a bit more formal for the professors.
Dancing lessons, cooking classes, lectures, city tours, are arranged through the school. Optional day trips to National Parks, Indian markets, bird watching areas and haciendas are usually scheduled during the week for a nominal fee. Symphony, soccer or ballet tickets are easily purchased through the school.
We have learned from experience that cultural activities have an extremely positive influence on your intellectual involvement in the acquisition of a foreign language. It is for this reason that we recommend taking part in everything Quite and Ecuador have to offer.
don Quijote will find you unpaid work in various social institutions. The only requirement is that you have an adequate level of Spanish for community service. To ensure this, and to help you adapt to this new situation, it is essential that you have followed a Spanish course with us for at least 4 weeks. Throughout your period of voluntary work, don Quijote will be on hand to ensure you have support and guidance. And, you can tell us how things are working out.
Participants may choose both the field and preferred location of their volunteer placement. Possible fields of interest include social work, education, cultural work, and catering. While most of the volunteer projects take place in the city of study, there are also projects out of the city.
You will need to have a minimum of eight weeks to dedicate to the Volunteer Program: the first four weeks of the program will be spent studying Spanish; the volunteer placement will continue for the following four weeks (or longer if you wish).
The program consists of two phases
- Intensive Spanish course
- Volunteer Work placement
Intensive Spanish course
The course consists of 4 classes a day for a minimum of 4 weeks.
You will have four hours of Intensive Spanish classes from Monday to Friday, with a different cultural activity every day in the afternoon or evening.
After the minimum of 4 weeks of Spanish classes, you will start your volunteer assignment which lasts a minimum of 4 weeks (4 to 8 hours daily).
Example volunteer opportunities in Ecuador
Upon completing a Spanish course tailored to your needs for a minimum of four weeks, you’ll start your volunteer assignment. These projects tend to be focuses on children, public health, environmental issues, etc. We will help you set up and provide guidance along the way.
The work of the volunteer is divided into five principal projects:
- Environmental Programs: consists of taking an inventory of the biodiversity, recuperation of the landscape, reforestation with native species and environmental education.
- Cultural rescue Programs: research and investigation of history, dance, music, stories and legends, natural medicine and customs.
- Programs of Community Development: Working together for the cleanliness of the town, helping the farmers in traditional, organic agriculture, construction, and maintenance of trails in the forest, maintenance of public spaces such as parks, schools, etc.
- Programs of Institutional Development: creating databases, translating, developing and executing projects and teaching languages, eco-tourism and conservation.