Culture Quests

Ecuador

South America
Capital: Quito
Languages: Spanish (official), Amerindian languages
Useful links: Kids Culture Corner: Ecuador | CIA World Factbook

The following information is generalized and compiled from questions posed to the agents and interviewers in Ecuador. Although au pairs from this country may or may not have had these experiences/beliefs, Au Pair in America wishes to share this general information with our families.

Au Pairs in General

  • The idea of being an au pair is becoming common in Ecuador.
  • Applicants from Ecuador are motivated by the opportunity to improve their English and study in the U.S.
  • The job potential of an au pair improves upon her return to Ecuador.
  • Applicants sometimes have difficulty affording the program fees.
  • Young people in Ecuador have the freedom of their family to socialize and date.
  • Curfews are common.
  • In general, young women are accustomed to sharing in household chores; however, middle class applicants will have maids to perform household tasks.
  • Nudity is not acceptable in public, nor is topless sunbathing.
  • Ecuadorians are family-oriented, warm and conservative.

Child Care Practices

  • Common discipline techniques include verbal reprimands and loss of privileges.
  • Physical discipline is not common in Ecuador.
  • Applicants obtain childcare experience through formal schooling, caring for extended family members, and volunteering at orphanages and day care centers.
  • Usually both parents share the childrearing responsibilities.
  • It is common for both parents to work and be away from home during the day.

Driving Skills

  • The minimum driving age is age 18.
  • A driving license is not difficult or expensive to obtain.
  • It takes approximately three to six months obtain a license in Ecuador.
  • The steps involved in obtaining a driving license in Ecuador include:
    • Written test
    • Must drive with learners permit for three months
    • Practical test
    • Fees
  • The International driving permit is available.
  • Applicants must obtain a learner's permit and drive for three months before taking the road test. They practice driving using their parents’ car; once they have started working, they will save money with the intention of buying a car.
  • Most cars have manual transmissions.

English Language Skills

  • English is compulsory, though the best instruction comes from private schools.
  • English is taught in pre-school through 12th grade. Courses are focused more on grammar and writing. There is little focus on oral communication.

Education

  • Approximately 35% of young women continue their studies at university.
  • Those who do not attend university seek employment or take courses in computer skills or languages.
  • There are two academic years in Ecuador. The coastal region begins in April and ends in January, and the highlands begin in September and end in July.

Health

  • The most common inoculations are BCG, Polio, DT, MMR, and Hepatitis B.
  • Most young women are tested for TB (tuberculosis) at ages six and 12.
  • Ecuador has a social security system providing free health care, but care is considered to be poor. Those who can afford private health care seek it.
  • Most young women visit the dentist on a regular basis.
  • “Eating disorders” are not common, but do occur.

Diet

  • Most young people in Ecuador eat meat.
  • Vegetarianism is becoming popular, but is not yet widespread.
  • A typical Ecuadorian diet includes rice, potatoes, and meat. Ecuador is known for its exotic fruits, fish and seafood, tasty soups, and the countless varieties of Andean potatoes.

Religion

  • The most common religions in Ecuador are Catholicism and Protestantism.
  • Most young people in Ecuador do not practice their religion regularly.

Telephone & Internet

  • Most applicants have a telephone and a computer with access to the Internet.
  • Family members will not be able to take a message in English from a potential host family.

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