Apply by July 15th to start this fall!
Spend your first month in intensive Spanish classes, including outings around the city to put your new language skills into practice. You’ll work at an internship with a local partner agency and develop professional skills. Ecuador is one of the most geographically and culturally diverse countries in the world. Rich in history and architecture, Cuenca is surrounded by breathtaking scenic mountain views. Its historic city center is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Trust site.

About the Region




Cuenca is known for textiles and folk art


Mild and warm during the day and cool at night




achachai = how cold!

chuta = an interjection similar to “darn!”

no más = go ahead

Program Features

You will attend Spanish classes at Amauta Spanish School and take part in intensive Spanish classes for your first month in Ecuador. These classes include language instruction in the mornings and dynamic activities such as cooking, salsa lessons, scavenger hunts, and other fun activities in the afternoons. You will then get private tutoring sessions for the rest of the semester or year.
You will first participate in a pre-departure training in Houston to learn more about AMIGOS before heading to Ecuador. When you arrive to Cuenca, you’ll take part in an engaging training that will prepare you for your gap experience. This training will cover topics such as program specifics, leadership, community development, and multicultural understanding.
You will be placed in an internship at one of our partner agencies. Here, you’ll spend 30+hours a week working on projects that allow you to gain real-life work experience in a culture different from your own. Partner agencies range from large governmental organizations and municipal offices to small NGOs. Some examples include: a fair trade store and community tourism organization, a local government office focused on the sustainability of resources within the city of Cuenca, a small nonprofit committed to providing opportunities for disadvantaged populations.
Work directly with your partner agency to plan, design, and execute a sustainable community-based project. Use your imagination, energy, and ingenuity to develop a proposal, raise resources, and watch the project come to life! Some examples of past service projects include: women’s empowerment workshops, creation of youth groups, summer camps for youth with diabetes, painting murals and reforestation activities in the Cajas National Park.
Live with a local host family for your entire stay and become a part of the community. Your host family will be an invaluable guide as you get to know your new home. Take full advantage of your time together, learning local recipes and hearing their perspectives.
Come together with your fellow gap participants to talk about your experience, discuss challenges and successes that you’ve encountered, and build skills that you’ll use in your gap year and beyond. You could be a part of workshops that focus on leadership skills, community development, international development, or working in a cross-cultural context.
Monthly excursions to must-see spots let you explore the country, learn about culture, and have adventures, while getting to know other gap participants.
  • Academic Year
    2018 - 2019
  • Length
    9 months
  • Training Dates
    Train in-country with your fellow participants!
  • In-Country Dates
    Aug 26, 2018 – May 31, 2019
  • Ages
    17 – 22
  • Price
Ready to start your application?

Applications to start next fall are due July 15, 2018!

The things you will learn and experience, the relationships you will build, and the joy and love you will feel are irreplaceable and will remain with you through the rest of your life.
Emma, Gap Program Participant
Program Requirements
  • Meet the health criteria for AMIGOS participation and follow the mental health procedures if necessary
  • Receive required immunizations and medications
  • Graduated from high school (age 17 - 22)

Example Itinerary – 2018-19 ACADEMIC YEAR

*Dates subject to change.

August 26 – 31 – Pre-departure training in Houston and in-country briefing in Ecuador.

September – Daily: morning Spanish classes, afternoon Spanish activities. First group workshop takes place.

October – Internship begins. Second group workshop takes place. First excursion with your group. Begin planning your community service project.

November – Internship daily. Third group workshop takes place. Continue working on community service project. Thanksgiving dinner with your group.

December – Internship daily. Second group excursion.

December 21 – Gap semester participants depart. Gap Year students start winter vacation.

January 20 – 25 – Assist with training spring semester gap students. Workshop with full year gap students.

February – Continue internship. Workshop with all gap students. Group excursion.

March – Group workshop. Group excursion. Continue internship.

April – Internship daily. Another group workshop takes place. Continue working on community service project. Semana Santa – spring break.

May – Internship daily. Group excursion. Despedidas and debriefing.

May 31 – Gap participants depart.