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November 18, 2016

My Impact Travel Experience

I recently had the opportunity to explore Ecuador and its culture courtesy of Collette’s Ecuador Impact Travel tour. This year, ten years after a trip to South America sparked the beginning of the Collette Foundation, Collette’s CEO, Dan Sullivan Jr., returned and launched Collette’s very first Impact Travel program to Ecuador. An Impact Travel tour is the perfect mixture of sightseeing, cultural exchange and volunteering at a few of Collette Cares Foundation locations.

When I learned that I would be traveling on this tour, I expected a slightly different experience from previous tours I had been on because I anticipated spending a portion of my time volunteering. Little did I know how different my experience would truly be!

I was given the opportunity to experience this destination in a very meaningful way. I was able to see Ecuador’s tourist attractions, but more importantly, I was able to meet several Ecuadorians and spend quality time learning about and participating in their everyday lives. We’ve all traveled somewhere and seen the highlights of that destination, a taste of the country, and its people. But our impact travel tours provide a much more in depth experience.

One of the more memorable parts of the tour was my 3-night home stay in La Magdalena Karanki Community. I had the pleasure of being hosted by a woman named Isolina, a resident of the community for 50 years. In addition to dressing me and my traveling companion in traditional clothing, Isolina provided home cooked breakfast and dinner each day and joined us for an unforgettable game of Jenga!

During the 3 days spent in the highlands of Ecuador, I visited a local school, where we spent the day painting. I also shared in snack time with the students there. The snack consisted of two pieces of fruit and a piece of bread. Many of the children saved a part of their snack to take home to other family members. This was a pretty special visit, as we learned that Collette has recently sponsored 3 months of this snack time. After volunteering at the school, I was able to horseback ride through the Andes past adobe houses and women in traditional clothing. It was an incredible finish to an unforgettable trip full of genuine personal interactions with the people of Ecuador.

Ecuador, it's people, the community center visits and homestay made a huge impression on me and my fellow travelers. Impact Travel is a unique opportunity and I look forward to going on another trip like this again sometime soon.

Does this sound great? Join us in 2017 when we visit South Africa. Be a part of the change!

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