Special Placement: Galápagos
In 2010, WorldTeach Ecuador returned after nearly a decade to serve on the Galápagos Islands. Volunteers placed here work at SECAP, a quasi-governmental organization with branches around the country that provide vocational education and other training programs. WorldTeach has had a long history working with SECAP, in many locations throughout Ecuador. SECAP institutions typically draw adult students who are upbeat and interested in sharing their lives with volunteers, and the Galápagos is no exception. In addition, SECAP gives volunteers the freedom to create their own curriculum as there is no set curriculum for SECAP instructors.
Like all WorldTeach Ecuador placements, volunteers will live with host families. Host families will provide room and board for volunteers.
On the Galápagos Islands, many of your students will likely be scientists working on the island as well as those working in the tourism industry. English is absolutely essential to those living on the Galápagos. The Galápagos Islands are famed for their vast number of endemic species studied by Charles Darwin (if you are not a fan of humidity and insects/bugs this would not be the correct placement for you). Also, while the Islands boast a population of approximately 30,000 and there are many tourists traveling to and from the island, you will be somewhat isolated as traveling between the Galápagos Islands and mainland Ecuador is expensive (see Finances below). However, as Lonely Planet states: ¨you don´t have to be an evolutionary biologist or an ornithologist to appreciate one of the few places left on the planet where the footprint of the human presence is kept to a minimum.¨
Previous volunteers have been placed on the island of Santa Cruz, and our partner SECAP is hoping to expand the program to other islands in the future.
Because of visa restrictions for foreigners working on the Galápagos, volunteers can only get a work visa for up to six months. As such, the Galápagos placements are approximately seven months; this includes the month-long Orientation for all volunteers. Volunteers placed on the Galápagos will participate in the same Orientation with the rest of the February 2013 departure group and travel to their site at the same time. Galápagos volunteers will join the Mid-Service conference held in June, and end their service approximately September 2013.
Flights to Galápagos are considerably pricey, costing $550 per roundtrip flight, and non-Ecuadorians must pay a $100 visa fee each time they enter the Islands.
The Volunteer Commitment for volunteers serving on the Galápagos is the same yearlong cost of $5,490. This includes two round-trip flights to the Galápagos Islands: to/from site to start and end service; and to/from Mid-Service conference held on the mainland. It also includes two entrance fees associated with these trips. Any additional flights on/off islands and entrance fees are at the expense of the volunteer.
On the flip side, WorldTeach Ecuador: Galápagos volunteers receive a higher stipend than usual. Galápagos volunteers will receive $800 total, of which $400 will go to their host families for room and board (this is compared with the approximately $400 total that other volunteers receive, of which $200 goes to his/her host family). This is meant to off-set the higher than normal living expenses on the Galápagos Islands (e.g. imported food).
Despite the aforementioned challenges and costs, this is an exciting opportunity for many volunteers. Life on Galápagos may not be for everyone, but it is the perfect fit for open-minded, flexible, enthusiastic people. Galápagos placements are only open to volunteers already accepted into the WorldTeach Ecuador program. To be considered for one of the Galápagos placements, we ask that each interested volunteer answer the following short essay question by noon (EST) on December 31, 2012; essays should be sent to the Program Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org.The Program Manager and Field Staff will review applications, and successful applicants will be notified by Mid-January, 2013.
Question: Why do you think you would be the best choice for placement on the Galápagos Islands? What challenges do you anticipate during your service on the Islands and how do you think you can handle these challenges? What do you think you can offer to the residents of the Islands?