Program Overview

Volunteer abroad with a foundation in Quito, Ecuador using music and the arts as means of providing therapy and education to youth and adults with disabilities. An intermediate level of Spanish is suggested, but all music volunteers will receive one-on-one Spanish instruction for 6 hours per week throughout the program. During your stay, you will live with a local family in a homestay where you will be provided two meals per day. Volunteer placement requires at least ten hours a week for a minimum of one week. Take this chance to discover the true power of music to improve lives. You may go to Ecuador planning to teach and inspire others, but you will undoubtedly return inspired yourself and full of new knowledge we hope you will share with your community at home.

“Working with the students in Ecuador through PAA was incredible. My spanish wasn’t the best, and their English wasn’t great either, but through music we could communicate and grow.”

Performing Arts Points of Interest

La Juliana

La Juiliana is the self-proclaimed primer Latin Club in Quito. The vibrant venue houses local bands playing salsa, rock, and merengue music. The club also hosts concerts as well as their weekend dance club.

El Pobre Diablo

El Pobre Diablo, translates to “The Poor Devil,” is the most popular spot for live music in Quito. The restaurant bar is open from noon to 3:00pm and closes until reopening at 7:00pm until 2:00am open everyday except Sunday. Music ranges from jazz to world music to blues.

Café Libro

Café Libro is an attraction for local artists and visitors looking for live music and dance classes in Quito. The cafe ranges from a relaxing atmosphere where you can grab a cup of coffee and play chess or a lively venue with salsa dancing and live music.

PAA Home Base

About the Location

Ecuador is an incredible place where you can see natural beauty, rich history, and diverse cultures in one small area. Ecuador is on the Equator in the northwest corner of South America, and much of the country remains untouched by developers and surveyors.

The performing arts have been central to life in Ecuador for centuries, producing stories of the people and their complex histories. The capital city of Quito houses several music organizations specializing in folk music, a national symphony, the Teatro Nacional, and dozens of other performing arts groups. Ecuador sits on 120,000 square miles of land where you can go from sea level to 12,000 feet in a six-hour drive, visit a fishing village and see a highland town, all in the same day!


You will stay with a host family in a middle class home located in lovely neighborhoods throughout the city with your own private room in most cases, depending on availability. We work with many families in Quito, all of whom are carefully vetted based on interviews, background checks, family income level, safety of the area where they live, and previous experience hosting international visitors. In addition to building relationships with your family, you will receive breakfast and dinner daily, and laundry service once per week while living in your home stay. Many interns create lasting relationships with their homestay families, and stay in touch long after the program ends.


Most homestays have multiple interns staying with them at a time, and most interns have their own private room during the program unless you are traveling with a friend or family member and request to stay in the same room. In the case of shared rooms, your roommate will be another participant of the same sex around the same age. The participants on our program range widely in age, but the most common age group is between 18 and 25. In the fall and spring, PAA usually has between 1 and 5 participants onsite at one time who join with a handful of other volunteers and interns in collaboration with our onsite partners. The summer brings closer to ten PAA interns joining another couple of dozen volunteers and interns in other fields.

A Day in the Life

The Participant Experience

From the moment you step off the plane, you will be enveloped in the beauty of the Ecuadorian landscape and people. Your sense of time will likely change as you adjust to a slower pace of life and a culture that takes more time to greet each other and express genuine interest in how the day is going.

Our EcuaPals program will connect you with a local student who shares interests with you, and you will meet up with that person regularly during your time during the country to learn each other’s language and culture. In your volunteer placement, you will join a second family of artists seeking to use music to better their community, and raise awareness both locally and globally of the unique and vibrant culture that infuses every aspect of life in Quito. You will have the chance to join a local orchestra or other performing ensemble that performs regularly for tourists visiting the foundation. Your weekends will be free for exploring the vast array of landscapes throughout the country, and even a trip to the Galapagos Islands if you choose. Throughout it all, our friendly staff will support you in whatever way you need, and encourage the inevitable transformation you will experience, both personally and in your artistic pursuits.

On Arrival

You will book a flight to arrive in Quito’s Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO) on the Friday of your arrival. Our on-site staff will meet you at the airport with a sign that has your name written on it, and will take you to a hostel in the nicest part of Quito where you will stay with other volunteers arriving that day for the first four nights of the program to have your own private space for adjusting to the crazy altitude! You will be given a quick orientation to your hostel and a tour of the neighborhood, then be given time to unpack, settle in, rest, and explore the immediate area with other volunteers for the rest of the day.

The following morning, our on-site staff will pick you up at the hostel and do a full-day orientation, including a city tour of Quito and a cultural lunch. On Sunday, you will participate in a full-day excursion, usually to a volcano and crater lake, huge traditional crafts market, or a cloud forest with a visit to an organic chocolate factory. Monday will be a final day of engaging with the community and reflecting on adjusting to the new culture with our staff, and on Tuesday morning you will check out of your hostel and be taken to your homestay family where you will be staying the rest of your time in Ecuador. Tuesday is also the day you will begin working with your volunteer placement.

A Typical Day

On Tuesday, you will be accompanied to your volunteer placement by a member of our on-site staff, where you will meet your supervisor and review your hours and responsibilities. From that point forward, you will travel to and from your placement every day, and take one-on-one Spanish classes with a private tutor 6 hours per week (usually 2 hours per day 3 days per week). Every week, usually on Wednesdays, we host a cultural activity which you will be invited to join along with other participants who are there at the same time as you.

On your final day in Ecuador you will have a personal meeting over coffee with our Site Director to debrief about your experience, and will stay the final night in a hostel before being driven to the airport for your departure.

Host Group

Volunteers work at a Foundation with 20 years of experience providing care and education to children and young people with disabilities. They have different programs according to the skills and abilities of their students and prospective students. Volunteers will assist with academic programs, music therapy, day care programming, and any other tasks needed during your stay. In the summer, volunteers may be able to get involved with a music camp as well.

Support Staff

Support Staff

Support Staff



“I truly believe my experience in Ecuador not only gave me life-long friends and memories, but it also gave me a much clearer picture of what I wanted to do and a huge boost into my career.”

“The family I stayed with for the 3 months were wonderful and very patient with me and my Spanish. My placement was great; I was doing music with special needs which is exactly what i’d wanted to do. I also got to see some amazing places in Ecuador, including the Galapagos Islands and the Rainforest. I had a really great 3 months and I wish I could go back and do it again!”

My experience with PAA was incredible! I was able to learn so much that will apply to my music education career in the future. It will be an experience forever with me and I will definitely be back to visit. I quickly developed a whole separate life over there with a great family and local friends who welcomed me warmly. It’s a wonderful country to visit, especially for those involved in the arts.

From the blog

Theatre, Music

To Ecuador...and Beyond

Abi Nelson participated in PAA’s Music Internship in Ecuador in Fall 2017. She is from Edinburgh and has just begun a job at The Orpheus in Surrey just outside London, an opportunity she says grew directly out of the work she…


Worst thing about me was fixed in Ecuador, OLEY!

Hello, there! Yes yes yes, I made it all the way from a small old city Bethlehem, Palestine to Ecuador. Let me tell you first a little about myself. My name is Aleen Masoud, a 22-year-old Masters student in Arts,…


Life in Quito and the Universal Language of Music

Nothing can quite prepare you for the feeling of stepping off the plane in a strange country that you’ve never been to before, knowing you’ve got to function in a different language and a different culture for the next 3…


Reflections on Ecuador

Becky Ward was a Music intern in Ecuador from January to May of 2015 It’s now been almost 4 months since I returned from my time in Ecuador earlier this year. Having done some volunteering abroad since then in Ghana,…

How it Works

The information on this page provides details for a sample group program. Note that every group is different, and we will work with you to cater the experience to your group. To connect with us and begin organizing a program for your group, please follow the “Get Started’ button below and submit an initial questionnaire. We will then contact you to set up a discovery call where we can go into more detail about your group’s needs and what we can offer.

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