Volunteer Reviews from IOI Alumni
Nicole L’s (turtle center volunteer) experience:
“Three months later, and tortoise poop, semen, and pee no longer phase me. Working with Galapagos Giant Tortoises for three months at the Breeding Center was definitely a once in a lifetime experience. From digging for eggs to feeding adult tortoises that can live up to 150 years, I was able to work intimately with these unique species. I was able to see a side of these animals that most passing tourists miss. Each Tortoise has a unique personality, and their curiosity is entertaining. They love their “desayuno” and will do anything to get their food. Volunteering and engaging with the community made my experience in the Galapagos unique and extremely worthwhile. Galapagos is definitely not just a place where unique animals live and where nature exists untouched. Through my civic engagement I was also able to learn a new culture and perspective that has definitely inspired a new outlook on life”.
Lindsay G. (host family story):
In truth, my entire three months spent on Isabela Island has been a life changing experience. I must say, hands down, the greatest eye opening influence of my time here has come from my host family. Coming here, my greatest worry concerned living with a host family. What will they be like? Will they accept me? What if we don’t get along?
All my worries dissipated the first day upon arrival when my mother, father, and little sister greeted me with open arms and smiling faces. Right away, I realized that the residents of Puerto Villamil are the kindest, most endearing, well-connected, and sincere people I have ever met.
To be part of this community, to indulge myself in this culture, is one of the best things I have ever done in my life. It is easy to sometimes forget what is important in life. These people, who I will forever consider my second family, reminded me what is important—the simple things; Sundays with the family at the beach, cooking dinner together, sharing customs and connecting, birthday parties, and tight hugs from your little brother and sister after a day of school. These are the things that bring true happiness, and it shows, as my host family is some of the happiest people I know.
The host-family student relationship is not fake, its not like playing house—It’s real. I never thought I, a twenty one year old from New Jersey, could connect with a Galapagueno family. I barely spoke Spanish before this trip, knew nothing about the customs, and haven’t lived home for three years, yet none of that mattered. I connected with these people like I had never thought possible. We formed a bond I will never forget. I will bring back with me a new appreciation for life, for family, and for the little things.
CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT IOI GALAPAGOS OR APPLY