A YFUer who turned his passion into a profession
September 03, 2021 10:28

I am Pablo Silva, Ecuadorian YFU alumni and owner of the tour operator Vida Tours Ecuador.

When I was at school I loved to go hiking in the Andes. Quito has many volcanoes for that. At that time I wanted to study psychology after my graduation and already practice yoga and meditation every day.

My life changed forever when my aunt, an Ecuadorian woman married to a swiss guy, asked me if I would be interested in going abroad for a year, she would be willing to pay for that.

We started to look for an exchange organisation and we decided very quickly for YFU, especially because of the kind and personal attention they gave us at their national office in Quito.

I spent one year in Germany. One month in Solingen learning some German with the Struchholz family and 10 months near Leipzig with the Hille family. I did a lot of climbing in the region of Saxony, my family did a great job with me and always treated me as a family member.

When I came back to Ecuador I realized I want to keep hiking and using languages, so I decided to study tourism and environment protection in Quito. During this study I was involved as a YFU volunteer in Ecuador, helping both the inbound and outbound students. I also got the chance to go with the inbound students on some trips organized by YFU Ecuador. I just loved it!

Then I applied for an internship in YFU Switzerland. I was supposed to stay 6 months but it was one year in the end. I had a fantastic experience with the staff of 2009/2010 and all the volunteers of that time and with my host family Klemenz. I remember Peter (Pedrito with love) in charge of the French-speaking part of Switzerland asked me if I would like to organize short trips and meetings for his students. So, I started to be more in the organization of events and trips.

Back in Ecuador, I got back to university and got a part-time job in the national office of Ecuador. One day Sandy, the national director, asked me if I would like to organize a trip to the Andes for the inbound students. They already got a trip to the Amazon, to the Pacific Coast and to the Galapagos Islands but students living on the coast were asking for a trip to the Andes. I immediately said YES. I didn't know that was the beginning of my career as a tour guide and as a tour operator in Ecuador.

After my graduation I got involved in guiding tours for German-speaking tourists in Ecuador for different travel agencies, I didn't know there were so many Germans and Swiss tourists coming to Ecuador and so few tour guides in Germany. Thanks to my language skills I got the opportunity to guide not just in all regions of Ecuador but also in Peru, Bolivia and Chile. On every tour, I tell my tourists some stories of my exchange experience, so they understand better the cultural differences between Southamerica and Germany or Switzerland.

Later I founded my own tour operator, we do trips focused on yoga, meditation, contact with nature, but also adventures like hiking or snorkelling and also now I organized all trips for YFU students in Ecuador. They are far from the typical tour! They are made for exchange students: we see how people live in the countryside, we sleep at least one night with indigenous families in the jungle and in the Andes, we visit conservation projects in Galapagos and learn what can we do at home for our environment, we have of course a lot of fun and I can assure we help YFU in the goal of creating better world citizens.

Thanks to YFU for all the opportunities that began with the simple questions: would you like to organize a trip for our students?

Author: Pablo Silva, YFU Ecuador

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