Venture into rural, coastal communities around the beautiful province of Santa Elena while volunteering with local students and living with a host family.
Earn 215 service hours while you learn about the world by living in it!

About the Region

Climate

Coastal. Daytime temperatures are hot!

Food

Corviches – Deep fried plantain stuffed with a peanut sauce and fish.

Encebollado –Traditional Ecuadorian soup made from onions and tuna.

Pacific Ocean

This region is home to thousands of small-scale fishermen, giving it a vibrant yet laid back attitude. Santa Elena is renowned for its magnificent coast line and rich waters. Surfers from around the world have been flocking to enjoy its northern beaches for decades!

Example Volunteer Projects
  • Updating and improving a community youth center
  • Building and maintaining a community garden
  • Developing a series of talks about health for local residents and youth
Example Day

Morning

Enjoy a hearty bolon and shrimp with your host siblings before they head off to school. Help prepare the fishing bait for your host family’s day on the water.

Afternoon

Play soccer with your neighbors, help your host grandma with her daily chores, and sit down for a lunch with your whole host family.

Evening

Catch a local game of Ecuavolley (an Ecuadorian version of volleyball), share a light dinner with your host family.

Project Features

AMIGOS volunteers increase their language ability through immersion that goes beyond what can be achieved in a classroom. They improve their fluency, learn local slang, and increase their confidence with real-world practice.
Living with a host family is central to the AMIGOS experience. All host families volunteer to open their homes to young people from another culture. Volunteers and host families build long-lasting relationships and often stay in touch after the project has closed.
While in country, AMIGOS volunteers work on a community-led service project, earning 215 service hours. Every service project is unique, but each channels young people's ideas to create positive change.
The opportunity for independence and self direction makes AMIGOS unique. Participants shape their time in country according to their passions. the possibilities are endless - what each volunteer takes out of their experience is up to them!
Every Amigo is mentored by a member of our project leadership team through regular check-ins and personalized feedback. This allows volunteers to experience the independence that sets our programs apart, with the support of a passionate facilitator.
Volunteers build their leadership and community development skills through hands-on training. Not only is AMIGOS training fun and engaging, it gives them the necessary tools for success in the field and beyond.
  • National Chapter
  • Length
    6 weeks
  • Training Dates
    Group Pre-departure Training: June 7–11
  • In-Country Dates
    June 11–July 23
  • Ages
    15–22
  • Price
    $6,350 (includes international airfare)
Ready to explore the Ecuadorian coast?

Start your application today!

APPLY NOW
Throughout the whole experience I made life-long friends, learned about a new culture, and I got to make a real impact on some amazing peoples' lives - although it was nothing compared to the impact they made on mine. I was in my community for about 6 weeks, but at the end of it I wanted to stay there much longer, because it had become like a second home, a second family.
Claire, Panama Project Volunteer
Program Requirements
  • Meet the health criteria for AMIGOS participation and follow the mental health procedures if necessary
  • Receive required immunizations and medications
  • Be age 15–22 on the project start date (June 11)
  • Have two years of Spanish study or the equivalent

SANTA ELENA Project EXAMPLE Itinerary

*This is an example itinerary only. Activities and dates may be subject to change.

Day 1 – Arrive in Ecuador! Project staff meet you at the airport and the group travels together to get started with briefing.

Week 1 – Briefing. Project staff lead a country-specific orientation to AMIGOS and the Santa Elena Project. Meet your host family. Start getting to know your host community.

Week 2 – Start getting into the groove of daily life on the Ecuadorian coast. Work with local residents and your AMIGOS partner to identify a community service project. Begin leading daily activities for local kids.

Week 3 – Plan your community service project and put together your budget and proposal. Continue leading daily activities for local kids.

Week 4 – Implement your project. Whether you’re beautifying a community center or working to improve access to clean water, you’ll learn about the community development process in a hands-on way.

Week 5 – Put the finishing touches on your service project or hand it off to local residents to continue after you leave. Keep working to empower local youth through the daily activities you lead.

Week 6 – Attend a despedida (goodbye party) in your community and say goodbye to your host family. Join all the other Amigos on your project for a few final days in Ecuador, where you’ll reflect on your summer and spend some time relaxing and seeing cool sites in the area before you head home.

Last day – Fly home!

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