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On one of our excursions we traveled to the island of Bartolome where Master and Commander was filmed. We spent the afternoon on the beach to the right of me in the photo and snorkeled in that inlet.

Name, Age: Kylie Holloway, 18
University, Major: UC San Diego, International Studies and Theater
Region: South America
Length of stay: Less than one month
Type of Work: Environment/Conservation

Tell us about the nonprofit/social business you work for:
Global Leadership Adventures. My specific program was in Quito, Ecuador as well as the Galapagos Islands, working on a giant tortoise wildlife reserve for two weeks. The website is www.experiencegla.com

How did you find your position?
Google search for teen volunteer programs.

What’s your typical day like?
We woke up early (around eight) and had breakfast with our host family. Then we traveled by bus to the giant tortoise reserve about a half hour away. We spent the first half of the day cleaning and performing general maintenance on the reserve for about five hours with a break for lunch. After work the group traveled on several excursions such as snorkeling, hiking, and visiting the Charles Darwin Research Center. In the evening we would have group bonding activities after a dinner at our host family’s house.

What kind of people do you work with?
I traveled in a group from Miami with fellow students ranging from ages 15 to 19. The group stayed together until we departed from the Quito airport two weeks later. Some of the fellow students were international, for example one was from Mexico and another was from Taiwan.
We had a lot of opportunity to interact with the natives as we stayed with two host families, worked alongside year-long native employees, and had plenty of free time to explore the town and get to know the locals.

The group in the ditch we spent 3 days digging. We later filled it in with rocks to make a pool for the tortoises so that they do not overheat in the summer.

What are your living accommodations?
We stayed in simple homes, nice for the poverty level of the area however. The food was great and so was the company. We had power and often watched telenovelas with our host family. However the shower water was very cold and bugs were not uncommon in the rooms, never in the beds however. There was internet access in the hotel in Quito, but no internet or phone access for the rest of the trip except for emergencies, however this was very refreshing.

What do you do in your free time?
Our home was about a quarter mile from the beach so a lot of time was spent there. Most of the time we just wandered and explored the town. We were required to stay in small groups and the area was very safe so we were free to do as we pleased. We usually bought cheap snacks and Cokes at the store and sat in the hammocks in the town center and talked with a few local teens we had made friends with.

Share a favorite memory or story from your experience!
While we were in our second home on the island of Santa Cruz, we took a day trip to Las Griettas, which are basically small fjords that cut into the island with cliffs overlooking them. The water in incredibly clear and the area is just beautiful. Our group climbed on the cliffs and jumped from about thirty-forty feet up into the water and had a great day swimming around and just playing on the cliffs. Challenging myself to take the leap (literally) was a truly amazing experience.

Probably my favorite part of the trip; jumping off the cliffs that lined the walls of Las Grietas. The water was incredibly clear and it was just beautiful.

What inspired you to do this kind of work?
Travel Bug!

How are you financing your time?
Personal savings.

Do you feel like you are making a positive, critical impact on the global community?
Yes, I feel like we could have spent more time at the reserve but this program has the best, in my opinion, balance of excursions and volunteer hours. I did feel like we made a difference to the reserve however. Looking back at the work we did, the land we cleared and the pond we built, I do feel as though we were successful in giving back to the community.

What’s next?
More volunteering and finishing school!

What is one thing you wish you knew before you came to your position?
Don’t drink the milk in South America, but eat the steak, its fantastic.

Do you have any advice for prospective gap-givers?
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, talk to people, make friends, say yes to new experiences.
“Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable.” -Sydney J. Harris

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