HECUA: Social & Political Transformation in Ecuador

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HECUA offers students the chance to study abroad next J-Term in Ecuador with the Social and Political Transformation program. Students in this program will examine the socioeconomic issues taking place in Ecuador today from the growing inequality and increased number of social movements. More specific topics will involve gender studies, rights of the indigenous population, the management of Ecuador's natural resources, and the new constitution of Ecuador. Comparisons will be made between other Latin American countries as well.

The entire program will be taught in English, and no prior Spanish is needed to sign up. Students will stay in Ecuadorian home-stays with local host-families that have at least one member of the family that can speak English. At various points of the trip, such as field visits or guest lectures, a translator will be present if needed. Roundtrip airfare is included in the program cost, along with accommodations, meals and excursions.

  • Two field visits: to the Amazon and to a rural, Andean community
  • Small cohort
  • Homestays

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Questions & Answers


9.6 Rating
based on 5 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 80%
  • 7-8 rating 20%
  • 5-6 rating 0%
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  • Academics 6.8
  • Support 9.2
  • Fun 9.6
  • Housing 9.2
  • Safety 8
Showing 1 - 5 of 5
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Yes, I recommend this program

Study in Ecuador- Family Stay

One of the aspects that I really appreciated with the HECUA study abroad program in Ecuador was the host family stay. While many study abroad experiences, particularly J-term experiences, seem to lack a bit of a connection with the community (programs often end up more like a vacation than anything), HECUA really focuses on intentionally connecting with the community. Staying with a host family allowed participants to connect with the community by engaging in dialogue and challenges faced in Quito not just through trips but at home.

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Yes, I recommend this program

Until the Cows Come Home--

Our time in Ecuador was full of incredible adventures! From hiking towering mountains to birdwatching above the rainforest canopy to interacting with social activists in Quito, Ecuador. We were truly immersed as we got to spend time with our host families navigating the city, exploring deep into the Amazon Rainforest, and traveling north to Imbabura province for an experience of rural Ecuadorian life.

The Amazon was a time of deep reflection as we came to terms with the unparalleled biodiversity with the realities of oil drilling. One of my favorite experiences was our night hike. We were able to see extremely unique wildlife-- I have no idea how our guides noticed them all! I was utterly taken aback by the beauty and expansiveness of the sky on this night. Far removed from light pollution, these were some of the most breath-taking stars I have ever seen.

Our other excursion was to the northern province of Imbabura! My classmates and I had gone to the field with our host mother to help with her evening chores. Our task that night was herding the cows back home. Unfortunately, my peers and I were quite inept at this task, losing the cows until we had to run after and chase them back onto the path. We looked back to see our host mother laughing at us. Needless to say, we decided it was better if we stuck to collecting vegetables for dinner!

What would you improve about this program?
I would recommend that there are more scheduled evening events to help us immerse in the culture through theater, arts, music, and sports.
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Yes, I recommend this program

HECUA Ecuador was "quito" incredible!

I think part of the beauty of this program is the fact that you are living with fantastic host families that provide you the freedom to explore the city of Quito on your own. The program leaders also highly encourage that, with a degree of safety, of course. Everyone that HECUA put us students in contact with were willing to do anything with us because they really wanted us to experience all of Quito, and Ecuador for that matter. One of my favorite memories from the trip was something that a group of us students decided to do on our own the last day we were there. One of the host fathers was a professional mountain guide. Volcán Pinchincha lied right behind my host family's house and we got to experience it the very first day we arrived in Quito. We decided to ask the host father if he was willing to take us to the summit of Pinchincha. He agreed and the last day, we took the Teleférico up to the spot where we began out hike. It took a lot of altitude adjustment, support, and bravery (especially for those who fear heights), but we made it all the way to the summit (15,000 ft). Not only was that a feat in it of itself, but the beauty of having the opportunity to look down at the place we called home for three weeks was the perfect ending to our trip. It gave me closure and it made me really appreciate what I had learned in the class, on the field trips, and through everyone I had met. Even though we were out of breath, taking too many pictures, and having a great time, it was one of the most humbling experiences I have ever had.

What would you improve about this program?
I would honestly like this program to be longer... HA. But, if I had to be honest and say something productive, it would be to have a little more engaging material in some of the lectures. Some of my favorite class days was when we went on mini excursions because I learned the most from those days. Granted, I am a hands-on learner, but I think those experiences are very valuable. Guest speakers were nice, but it would be nicer to travel to them instead of them traveling to us!
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Yes, I recommend this program

Alia MCDaniel Hecua Review

The most amazing thing about the program was being exposed to the different communities in Ecuador in such a short amount of time. We were able to capture the typical day of someone who lives in the city and the next week we were in the amazon learning how to weave baskets from the native people. We were also able to see how these differ from the afro- Ecuadorian communities and the indigenous communities. Ecuador has so much diversity in culture. I went into the trip having a particular image of an Ecuadorian person and came back to the states with more than five different Ecuadorian cultures.

What would you improve about this program?
Not at all! I believe that the trip could not be any better than it was!
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Yes, I recommend this program

You Won't Believe It Was Only A Month

I was nervous when I left for Quito. It was a program with students from schools other than my own, in a place I knew very little about. I knew I wanted to spend my J Term doing something meaningful, though, and this was the right experience.
I could go on forever about the experience. One of the absolute highlights for me was the family I had the privilege of living with. They were all so welcoming, and interested in knowing us as people, and teaching us everything they could. We ate almost every meal as a family, and it was common to stay at the table talking after dinner finished (one night we talked for three hours!). Our mom always made sure we were well-fed, and her cooking was a mix of healthy and traditional and flavorful. She always explained when something she was making for us was native to Ecuador, or a cultural tradition.

We spent hours in the classroom, yes, but in the end it paid off. We heard from many field speakers, who gave great insight into Ecuador's past, present, and future. Outside of the classroom, I loved the structure of the experience. We were only there for a month, but wow, we saw so much. Exploring Quito was just the beginning. We went to the rainforest and the Andes, two areas so different from each other and from where we were staying. On our free days, we independently organized group trips to the Cloud Forest and Banos as well.

Overall, it was a whirlwind of learning and adventure. I pushed myself to new challenges and experiences-- zip lining, climbing a birdwatching tower, night-hiking, salsa dancing, speaking Spanish with strangers, herding cows, taking transit in a new city, making new friends, baking in a wood-fired oven, learning a traditional Quechua dance, swinging over a mountain valley, soaking in hot springs, eating tropical fruits I've never heard of, and exploring crowded outdoor markets. By the time I was done, I wasn't ready to leave! I plan on returning to Ecuador, and I would recommend this program to anyone.

What would you improve about this program?
I would have liked to been given access to the schedule/syllabus earlier. We got it on the second day after arriving to Quito, so when I left the US and even when I first got to Ecuador, I didn't really know what to expect.