A WorldTeach Volunteer has been in Ecuador for almost a year now. Here, she shares the highs and lows of her time abroad and gives advice to prospective volunteers. Read on to hear feedback from her experience and to learn more about volunteering with WorldTeach Ecuador.
What was your most memorable experiences with WorldTeach and why?
My most rewarding experience has been creating meaningful relationships with Ecuadorians. I did not expect to make such deep connections with my friends here. Although I am sad to leave Ecuador, I think that is a good feeling because it means that I have created roots here.
What is the most interesting thing you learned about yourself through this experience?
The most interesting thing I learned about myself was that if I “say yes” to everything, I will almost always enjoy the experience. I’ve done a lot of things this year that I might not have done in the States, and I hope my sense of adventure carries back to the States.
What was most difficult for you in this experience? How did you confront this challenge?
The most difficult part of my experience was being constantly sick in Ecuador. My stomach has had a really hard time adjusting to the food and I’ve had some serious problems here. But, because I’ve enjoyed my year here so much, I try not to let it bother me and think of more important things. To a certain extent, it is out of my control because I live with a host family. I also try to seek out food, when I travel, that will make me feel more comfortable.
What qualities do you think are important for WorldTeach volunteers to have?
I think the two most important qualities are flexibility and patience. It is almost inevitable that you will run into frustrations at your teaching site, whether its getting paid late, dealing with a director who speaks no English, or running into bureaucratic hold-ups. I can guarantee that you will run into frustrations in everyday life– long lines, pushy people, men who cat-call, people not understanding your Spanish, late busses etc. It’s important to have patience and realize that this is part of the experience. Flexibility is necessary as things almost never work out the way you think they will. Part of having flexibility is being able to laugh about your frustrations.
What advice would you give to someone considering WorldTeach?
I think it’s important to really understand that your primary responsibility here is teaching. Although we only teach 20 hours a week, we spend many more hours preparing and grading. Sometimes your traveling will be limited by this and its important to know that you’re making a commitment to your students. If you want to travel around South America heavily this might not be the program for you.