Volunteer Experience | Community Development

Ecuador: Amazonian Arts: Pottery, Jewelry, Weaving, Dance, and Music

Tena, Ecuador


Location: Tena, Ecuador

Duration: Minimum 1 month (flexible for min. 2 weeks depending on intern’s qualifications), Maximum 1 year

Start Dates: Project is ongoing, and you can join at any time, depending upon availability

Cost: $450 for the 1st week + $250 for each additional week (2 month minimum is recommended) – see ‘Costs’ tab for further details


  • Learn about Amazonian cultures through the mediums of art, pottery, jewelry making, basket weaving, dance, and music
  • Incorporate local traditions in art and music with your skills and interests to collaborate on events for the community
  • Gain experience in designing and implementing art and music workshops for kids and adults in schools, shelters, and at-risk youth after school programs
  • Practice completing your own works of art and dance to share with locals and your community back home
  • Shadow masters in ceramics and pottery, and learn how they use all-natural ingredients to create most materials
  • Learn about the challenges in commercializing local art forms for economic development and address the knowledge gap in creating a small business
  • Forge meaningful relations with locals while living with a host family, immersing and learning from their traditions and point of view
  • Participate in and help develop cultural exchange events including ecotourism, medicinal plant remedy workshops, Amazonian Forest to Table Feast, and guayusa tea ceremonies.
  • Keywords: art, art history, culture, design, jewelry-making, dance, music, theatre, weaving, local products, pottery, ceramics, natural products, economic development, sustainable development, indigenous traditions.
Costs Explained


The Amazon rainforest is home to the most biodiverse ecosystem in the world, teeming with millions of species of plants, insects and animals. For thousands of years, Amazonian indigenous peoples have been utilizing the gifts of the Pachamama – Mother Earth – to create art and goods, such as bowls, cups, paints, jewelry, and even clothes. Many local dances celebrate the earth for her gifts and others tell stories of life in the rainforest including hunting, animal encounters, falling in love, and marriage.

This internship is a unique opportunity to experience the cultures of the Ecuadorian Amazon through the mediums of art, pottery, music, and dance. You will have the chance to live in a homestay in one of our partner communities and learn about the different art forms from locals who have generations of experience in their crafts. In addition, you can participate in and collaborate to support in leading contemporary workshops and classes in an small city that is has influences from all of the different cultures of Ecuador.

You will become part of an Ecuadorian family and community, dive deep into language learning (Spanish and Kichwa!), and create positive local impact while learning about and promoting local forms of art, music, and dance. Also, you will be able to experience life in the Amazon rainforest through unique activities such as weaving baskets out of freshly harvested palms, carving spears and statues from local woods, swimming in waterfalls, making chocolate from fresh-picked cacao, and trekking in the virgin rainforest. Your placement will include staff check-ins and 24/7 on-ground emergency support.

Daily Life

At the start of your program, you will have a 3-day orientation in the city of Tena which is about 4 hours east of Quito, Ecuador’s capital city. During orientation workshops, you will start learning about the culture, people, and geography of the region as well as other tools to support you in your internship abroad. Here you will also be connecting with other interns that are going to be leaping into a similar experience.

After orientation, you will move in with a local host family in one of the communities surrounding Tena. The distance from Tena can vary depending on which community you are placed in, ranging from 15 to 45 minutes. You will participate in their daily lives, form meaningful connections, and exchange knowledge. You will be a part of many family rituals, like waking up at 6am to make guayusa tea with your host grandmother and interpret your dreams. You will be placed with a family whose members practice different forms of art and/or are a part of different artist organizations.

In this immersive experience, including within your family, you will forge meaningful connections with the artists, musicians, and dancers who continue to create as a way of preserving their traditions and cultures.

Potential daily activities may include:

  • Apprenticing with a local expert in the art form that you are most interested in
  • Attending community pottery or art workshops and eventually assisting to lead the
  • Attending music and dance classes led by community members
  • Hiking through farms and in the rainforest to collect natural materials for drawing, jewelry-making, and ceramics
  • Sharing art forms and dance from your home country with community members via workshops or mini-classes
  • Participating in art and dance presentations throughout the province
  • Teaching art workshops in local schools and nonprofits that incorporate topics of interest, for example: recycling, environmental conservation, leadership, self-esteem, etc.
  • Learning to weave baskets from your host family members that are used for carrying produce recently harvested from the farm back home
  • Assist local indigenous associations with design and marketing consultation on their pottery, jewelry, and other art forms
  • Completing an art project using local materials and your acquired knowledge, showcasing it during a final project event in your community
  • Conducting language tutoring exchanges with community members [English, Spanish]

Your main internships can be complemented by personal research opportunities. If you are interested in conducting research, we can support you and connect you to our network of communities, local art experts, and others to help you create your independent project.

Book with Confidence

Travel & Accom.

The best airport to fly into is Quito (UIO, Mariscal Sucre International Airport) as it is only 4 hours from the project. You will be put in contact with the director of the program upon applying and they can give easy to follow instructions to get to the project Headquarters from Quito or Guayaquil International airport.

You will stay for the first 3 nights in the town of Tena for orientation (accommodation is provided), and then will spend the rest of their time living with a local host family. This is an amazing opportunity to integrate fully with the local community, culture, and learn Spanish. Host families also provide 3 meals per day, bedding, mosquito net, and a place to do your laundry.

Fundraising Help


We recommend that interns commit to 8 weeks on the ground in Ecuador, have an intermediate level of Spanish proficiency (or a strong motivation to learn quickly before and upon arriving!), and bring knowledge in their area of research if looking to do a personal project. Interns are expected to finance their own travel costs.

For those interns looking to do their own research or fieldwork for university – we offer the knowledge and time of our network, technical knowledge and informational databases, access to communities, NGOs, government agencies, and consultants, and pre- and post-research support.

Further requirements include:

  • Minimum 2 weeks commitment (40 hours/week), recommended 8-12 weeks.
  • Industry professionals, graduate/undergraduate students majoring in pre-medicine, global health, public health, community development, or a related field.
  • Full travel & medical insurance
  • Necessary vaccinations
  • Necessary flights & visas
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$450 USD for the 1st week, $250 USD* for each week thereafter.

* Currency conversions are approximate. Use xe.com for up to date currency conversion rates
** All payments incur a 5% bank transfer fee
*** Places are confirmed with a 1 week deposit.

What’s Included:
  • Accommodation and 3 meals a day with a local Host Family. This includes a private room, shared bathroom, all bedding, and place to do laundry.
  • A pre-departure orientation (general and specific information about Ecuador, logistics and a Skype meeting)
  • 3-day in-country introduction and orientation that addresses risk management, culture shock symptoms and remedies, cross-cultural adaptation skills, intro to history/culture/politics of the Ecuador and the Amazon, team-building amongst interns and staff, setting a vision and goals for your experience, and more;
  • 1:1 coaching/check-ins every 3 weeks to track goals, check in on health, support with challenges, and providing feedback;
  • 24/7 emergency support;
  • Thorough vetted network of doctors, therapists, Spanish tutors, organizations, etc. in the country;
  • Space for learning and reflection with other foreigners having a similar experience;
  • Re-entry training;
  • Alumni group and future references.

Additionally you will need about $15/day for food for the first three days of training. You will also need to pay for your own transportations and any other activities you want to do.

What’s not included:
  • Food during the first 4 days of orientation
  • Transportation from the airport to location is not included
  • Flights, insurance, visas (if applicable) and vaccinations.

Full assistance will be provided in getting all these arranged if you choose our Premium Support.

Premium Support Upgrade

We understand there’s a great deal to plan and organise for your trip. When booking a Placement, many of our participants choose to purchase our Premium Support Upgrade to benefit from the expertise, knowledge and experience of our Project Coordinators. We can provide the personal advice you need to ensure your trip is organised with excellence and planned with efficiency; ensuring the very best experience possible. Read more about how we can help you.

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