Ecuador: Culture and Development
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“Studying abroad in Ecuador has solidified my admiration for cultural understanding and has given me confidence to explore all that I can offer to the global community. The challenge of learning a new language and discovering a new culture will forever be a major accomplishment for me. The friends I have made and the knowledge I now have is irreplaceable. I can honestly say that at this stage, studying abroad in Ecuador was the best decision of my life.”
Elizabeth Wright, University of Colorado at Boulder
The Ecuador: Culture and Development program includes three major educational excursions: the cloud forest, the rainforest, and the central coastal region, including the city of Guayaquil.
During each excursion, students continue to receive lectures as they engage with community leaders and grassroots organizers, including activists struggling to protect the natural resources of their area. In traveling through different areas of the country, students experience Ecuador’s extraordinary geographic and ecological diversity, including high mountain passes, cloud-covered forests, humid lowlands, and coastal dry forests.
The Cloud Forest
During the program’s four-day excursion to the cloud forest, students participate in a nature hike while examining medicinal plants and discussing threats to the region. They also meet with the founder of a local grassroots organization fighting extractive industries; young Ecuadorian activists; and members of a women's artisan cooperative. They also have the opportunity to experience firsthand the diversity of hummingbirds, orchids, and insect night life.
During this five-day excursion, students explore remnants of the eastern lowland rainforest. They learn about the environmental and social impacts of extractive industries in the area. A highlight of the experience is hearing the rainforest's unique cacophony of sounds, from insects, birds, and other wildlife, which ensues throughout the night. Onsite lectures during this period focus on indigenous worldviews and shamanic practices; medicinal plants; local handicrafts; resource management and conservation.
The rainforest excursion includes a visit to a local community where students may participate in a communal work party, such as a tree-planting ceremony or helping to paint a mural for a local school. Additionally, students participate in a Kichwa language workshop.
En route to the rainforest, the program typically visits one of Ecuador’s most famous hot springs.
Central Coast Region
The program undertakes a week-long excursion to Ecuador’s central coastal region, home to both large urban centers and rural communities.
Highlights of the excursion include:
- The opportunity to experience Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city, commercial center, and one of Latin America’s principle ports
- Sharing daily life with a host family in a small, rural, and economically-disadvantaged coastal village. Villages are either fishing communities or agricultural communities located in the buffer zone of Machalilla National Park. The park supports tropical dry forests and rainforests and the only coral reef formations of mainland Ecuador. It is also a region known for numerous archeological sites and museums.
In the past, the program has also spent time in a local ecological village/resort built out of bamboo. Inspired by an Ecuadorian visionary, the organization is heavily involved in community activism, recycling, and in raising ecological awareness.
Duration: 15 weeks
Program Base: Quito
Language Study: Kichwa, Spanish
Prerequisites: 3 semesters college-level Spanish or the equivalent and the ability to follow coursework in Spanish, as assessed by SIT. Read more...
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