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.
donQuijote partner school in Quito
Our Spanish school in Quito, Ecuador was founded in the year 2000 and is located in a traquil, classy and modern neighborhood of the city. The Spanish school features 9 bright and open classrooms and a roof top terrace with spectacular views of the city.
Refreshments are served free of charge and students can also take advantage of free WiFi access. Near the school there are many shops, restaurants, bars and Internet cafés.
Classes start every Monday for all levels except beginners and are taught by experienced and professional Spanish teachers.
don Quijote will find you unpaid volunteer in various social institutions. The experience you will gain will undoubtedly prove beneficial both personally and professionally. Not only will you be able to directly practice your Spanish skills but you will be able to reflect on your résumé that you are an open minded and flexible person.
The only requirement is that you have an adequate level of Spanish (generally intermediate to high) to be placed, although some projects require only minimal Spanish skills. To ensure an adequate Spanish level and to help you adapt to the new situation, we require that you take a minimum 4 week Spanish course prior to placement. We will be on hand throughout the whole experience to guide and help you during the whole experience.
Volunteer work can involve a wide range of activities from lending a hand in national parks, participating in the conservation and research of sea turtles, or teaching English to local school children. You can sign up to volunteer for a minimum of 2 weeks but are encouraged to stay longer in order to gain more experience and practice your Spanish skills. Students can also choose to change volunteer projects (after completion of 2 week minimum) in order to gain experience in a different field.
The program consists of two phases
- Intensive Spanish course ( 20 classes a week during a minimum of 4 weeks)
- Volunteer Work placement (2 weeks minimum)
Example of Volunteer Opportunities in Ecuador:
Students will be able to choose their volunteer placement from a variety of options and projects including things like:
- Working with street kids (projects in different areas: general supervision in halfway houses, psychological help, medical help, etc.)
- Work with children. Arrange before and after-school activities.
- Coordinate and manage volunteer groups
- Teach English, musical training, art, sexual education, or help children with their homework
- Environmental projects may include work in different natural reserves or parks (environmental protection, reforestation, improvement of infrastructure, “save & protect” animals)