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Living and Learning International


Living and Learning International is an academically excellent semester abroad where students will engage the challenges of a developing nation and learn to respond with an appropriate Christian Worldview. We're based in Quito, Ecuador and almost every aspect of your experience is organized and run by our in country staff. We value the personal and spiritual well being of every student that joins us so you'll meet with a resident coordinator once per week and participate in weekly chapel. During the semester you will participate in homestays for 4 weeks, engage in a local internship or service learning project, and go on trips to the Amazon Jungle and the Galapagos Islands. Our program requires students to abstain from alcohol. This requirement is not based on a moral stance for or against alcohol but is in place to show respect for the primarily catholic culture and to create a environment that focuses on personal wellbeing & development.



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Yes, I recommend this program

I had the opportunity to complete this internship online and I had a great experience. Even though I was not able to be at the location physically, my mentor and supervisor still made me feel included and welcomed. I felt like I was apart of the community even though I am thousands of miles away. I had a busy schedule but my supervisor and mentor where both understanding and patient with me through the transitions. They were extremely helpful and encouraging. I would recommend going through this program.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
If I did this all over again, the one thing I would change is actually going down to the location site. I did this program online and it was a great experience, but if I could do it again I would take the time to travel to Ecuador.
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Yes, I recommend this program

For years I was off and on trying to muster the confidence to study abroad (I knew I wanted to but didn't know how, where, or when!!). Once I found out about Living & Learning's program, I couldn't stop thinking about what a life-changing experience it would be, and sure enough, it exceeded expectations!!! Each staff member of Living and Learning cares deeply about each person that comes down to Quito and makes for an experience you won't forget!!! I'm telling you... this is an opportunity to make memories and learn in a way that is UNFORGETTABLE!!

What would you improve about this program?
I can't think of anything I would change!! Loved it
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Yes, I recommend this program

I love my program. I didn't know what to expect when going to Ecuador, but I was nervous about taking such a big step. The Living and Learning International staff met me where I was, supported me, taught me to have a more open and loving perspective in intercultural interactions, gave me some of the best adventures of my life, facilitated incredible friendships, and challenged me to grow as human being and a person of faith. I'll expand on two of those. L&LI led my cohort and I on some awesome adventures. As an experienced-based program, there is a focus in L&LI on getting to know all of Ecuador. The staff all have a special place for the country and culture in their heart, and they want us to, as well. Second, L&LI challenged me to recognize my assumptions and to perceive a culture with an open mind and heart. They wanted me to understand and appreciate Ecuador as well as to learn about the harm that a prejudiced mindset can cause. This challenging was done with a balance of respect, care, and uprightness that forced me to confront those hidden thoughts in myself that were so much easier to avoid. I am so grateful for the love and persistence with which they did this.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
If I could do it all over again, I would spend more time investing in relationships with Ecuadorian locals, and I would do it early on. As my time progressed, I did start to get to know local baristas or the family that owned my frutería. However, I think it would have enriched both of our lives if I had been intentional about asking questions sooner, rather than holding back out of nervousness. The people I met were warm and welcoming, and I think it would have given me an even more wholesome picture of the culture to know their stories.
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Yes, I recommend this program

I had the most life giving internship. I got to work in a coffee shop downtown, learning from the locals and having good conversations. This made me feel like a part of this city and not just a tourist. As a senior, I was able to work on my capstone project while in Ecuador. This exemplifies how flexible, creative, and accommodating the LLI staff is. I worked alongside both the director of Youth World and of LLI to come up with a comprehensive business plan for a coffee shop in Quito. This was an incredible experience.

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Yes, I recommend this program

Truly an exceptional job building community and encouraging personal development. I felt very invested in, from the other students and the younger staff all the way up to the directors and top leaders. Everyone is willing and able to make time for you and your growth. Also, so much fun!! The housing was comfortable and perfect for what we needed, life was easy and fun in Quito. There are a bunch of provided opportunities and opportunities you can create. Theres never a dull moment if you are willing to go look.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
Explore the uniqueness of Quito more. I wandered around a lot, but I wish I had looked more carefully for specific events and opportunities.


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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose to study abroad in Ecuador with Living and Learning International because I was looking for a program that was well rounded. I wanted a program that would not only give me an international experience, but one that would also provide opportunities for cultural engagement, language study, spiritual development, local internships, and of course, adventure. This program in Ecuador with Living and Learning was the perfect fit and exceeded my expectations in all of these areas.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

Between the program provider and my university, everything was taken care of accepting for booking and purchasing my flight. Living and Learning International provides a step-by-step onboarding process which covers everything you need to know and do before you arrive. If you still have questions, they are available and eager to assist you.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Be intentional about building relationships. If I could go back and do anything differently, I would be more intentional about building relationships not only with other students but also with the staff members and professors of Living and Learning.

It truly was a privilege to do life alongside so many incredible people and to be under the leadership of such a wise and humble staff, but I think I missed several opportunities to build relationships within that community because I let the business of my weeks get in the way. However, as I reflect back on my semester, the sweetest memories I have are centered around that community, so if I could give a bit of advice to future students, it would be to make relationships a priority, even in the business of the semester.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

For me, most days started at 7:30 am when I left the apartment for my internship. I spent most mornings shadowing an English teacher at an elementary school and then returned to the apartment around noon for lunch. After lunch, I went to Spanish class from 1:00 - 4:00 pm.

In the evenings I did homework, cooked dinner, and hung out with the other girls in my apartment. As far as the weekly schedule, we had house nights on Tuesday nights which was just a time to regroup with the girls in our house, cook dinner for each other, and do something fun.

On Wednesday during the day, I had my community development class and my Ecuador History and Culture class. On Wednesday nights, we had our weekly chapel service, which consisted of dinner, worship, teaching, dessert, and fellowship.

On Fridays, I had my one-on-one outings with my resident coordinator, which usually involved just going out for coffee and talking about our weeks.

The weekends usually held some sort of excursion or activity, but for the most part, we would have Sundays off to go to a local church, catch up on homework and sleep, and call family back home.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

I think my biggest fear going into my semester abroad was that I would feel lonely and isolated in an unfamiliar culture. I was nervous that culture shock would get the best of me, and that I wouldn’t make any friends. However, these fears were almost immediately put to rest as I realized how intentional the program was not only about discussing the ins and outs of culture shock but also about establishing authentic community.

The girls in my apartment truly became like family, and I quickly realized that I would be overwhelmed by the love and support shared between us as we journeyed through the semester together.

What sort of traveling and exploring were you able to do during your time abroad?

One of the most incredible aspects of this program is that it is jam-packed with travel and adventure.

We saw the Equator line and zip-lined over cloud forests. We spent a weekend in the Town of Banos where we hiked to Pailon del Diablo and swung on “The Swing at the End of the World”. We spent 5 days in the jungle and got to canoe on an off-shoot of the Amazon River. We hiked Pichincha and CotoPaxi, two of the volcanoes surrounding Quito, and I also got to explore the Antisana Ecological Reserve with my host family.

Some of us hiked down into the Quilotoa Crater Lake and then kayaked on the lake itself. And at the end of the semester, we traveled to Peru where we not only visited Machu Picchu, but we also explored the city of Cuzco, visited the Peruvian salt mines, and ATVd in some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen. On top of that, we got to snorkel and scuba dive in the Galapagos Islands, and then debrief the semester on the coast of Ecuador at the beach eating the best food you could ever imagine!

***IMPORTANT: If you study abroad with this program in Ecuador, YOU MUST try the coco batido (coconut smoothie) while you are at the beach. It WILL change your life.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Larry & Debbie Peck

Job Title
Larry and Debbie Peck are the Directors/Managers of Rome with Purpose. Larry was born in Italy and together they lived in Italy for eight years. Most of his educational experience has been in the area of distance education and he is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Instructional Design and Technology. Debbie’s passion is cooking, having published two cookbooks and taught many Italian cooking classes.

What position do you hold at Rome with Purpose? What has been your career path so far?

I am the Manager of Rome with Purpose and my husband, Larry, is the Director. We make a good team as we have complementary strengths. Larry’s background is in education and he grasps principles and concepts well, so he is responsible for our curriculum as well as for assuring the quality of our courses. He works directly with the teachers in developing their course objectives and syllabi.

I, Debbie, will be responsible for the day-to-day operation of our program, making sure that the students are cared for well. Since we will be living in community, I will be responsible for organizing meals, some of which will be on their own. Several times I week I will be involving the students in cooking classes, as we prepare meals for the group together.

Did YOU study abroad?! If so, where and what inspired you to go?

Both of us lived overseas for most of our growing up years—Debbie in West Africa and Larry in Italy. Our children also lived in Europe for a good part of their lives so we see the value of having lived in other cultures and appreciate what we have learned from living outside of North America.

Our daughter grew up in Rhode Island, Italy and Germany—but doing a semester abroad in Ghana really expanded her world. We’d like to offer that same value to American college students.

Why is language learning and cultural immersion important to you?

Since both of us grew up outside of North America, we value what other cultures offer to us. I think it’s good for Americans to see how other cultures function, realize what’s important to them, learn to get around using public transportation, hear the variety of languages throughout Europe, and taste different foods.

Being immersed in other culture expands your world, broadening your expectations and enhancing your perspective. You realize that there is more than one way to do things—and that sometimes that way is even better than your way.

For instance, I love how the Italians acknowledge and greet each other whenever they come and go, whereas Americans can just come into a room without greeting anyone, or leave without saying goodbye. The Italians even have an expression for that, “partenza all Americana”—leaving like an American.

What unique qualities does your company possess?

Our particular niche of the market is offering the possibility of “experiencing Italy in Christian community”. Our courses will be taught from a Christian perspective, viewing history, art, culture from the perspective of biblical truth.

Having lived in Rome for quite a few years, we have a lot of personal connections with Italians so our students will not live in an American “bubble” but will have opportunity to spend time with Italians and be involved in daily life in Rome. But, another distinctive is that we will live in Christian community, meaning we will share life together (eating meals, etc.) and supporting one another.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

Making a company successful depends on a number of things. It’s hard to narrow it down to one factor! At the core, however, is the importance of really believing in what you offer, because if you don’t believe in it, you won’t be motivated to give it 110%.

We try to give people more than they were expecting—and put our heart and soul into all we do. Of course it takes more than passion, it takes diligence, thoroughness, and the ability to determine priorities. But if you truly care about your clients, you’ll be successful.