Sustainable Development in Latin America

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About Program

Ecuador provides an ideal setting for exploring issues related to sustainable development. The course will examine the tensions, challenges, and possibilities for reconciling development and conservation in the dry tropical forest zone, a critically important and globally imperiled ecosystem. Course activities center in and near the city of Bahía de Caráquez, which has attempted to rethink its development trajectory after a series of environmental disasters in 1998 that exposed the human toll of unsustainable development practices. You will work closely with staff from Planet Drum Foundation, a San Francisco-based NGO with a long-term presence in Bahía de Caráquez, engaging in service learning through field excursions, discussions with locals, and participation in native forest revegetation projects.

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9.5 Rating
based on 2 reviews
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  • Academics 8
  • Support 9
  • Fun 8
  • Housing 10
  • Safety 8.5
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Yes, I recommend this program

My Time in Ecuador

My time in Ecuador was life changing and amazing in every way. Not only did I learn so much about my field of studies, environmental studies, but I also learned so much about myself. This opportunity was once in a lifetime. I don't think there is any other way to get such an integrated experience while still participating in classes. I feel like I was able to have such a genuine experience and learn about the people and culture in Ecuador in an organic way. I invite everyone who is thinking about this program to do it. I don't foresee anyone regretting that decision or having anything less than an amazing time. I have gained a more appreciative outlook on life and a greater respect for nature. I cannot say enough good things about this program!

2 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

My Time in Ecuador

Our trip began with our flight into Quito, Ecuador. We stayed in a beautiful hotel in a popular and lively neighborhood. We shortly left Quito and headed west toward our next destination, Mindo. On the way we stopped to stand on the equator, a popular tourist destination. In Mindo, the lush green of the forest was striking. To get to our lodging, we sat on a swing which was brought across a river on a pulley system (very fun!). Each day we had a lecture from a specialist, and we would then put what we’d learned into practice. In the field, we would identify amphibians, reptiles, bats, kinkajous, armadillos, etc. With our guides, we were lead on walks and learned about many plants. Mindo is also a bird watching capitol of the world, and we saw many incredible birds.
After Mindo, we stayed in a lodge called the Santa Lucia Ecolodge. To reach it, our bags were loaded onto mules while we hiked for 3 hours uphill. While tiring, the lodge has one of the most incredible views I’ve ever seen. On top of a ridge, when the clouds are blown away, you can see endless rainforest covering mountains and deep ravines. Here, our guide lead lectures on diversity of hummingbirds, epiphytes, tree species, etc. We would walk each day to learn in the field. I did an optional hike to see a rare bird, the Cock of the Rock. To see them we woke up at 3:30am, and hiked for 2 hours in darkness. It was an incredible experience.
From Santa Lucia, we flew from Quito to Coca, in eastern Ecuador. From Coca, we took a boat. We went through a checkpoint in which the oil companies searched our bags and passports. There were no roads to reach the research station, so we took our second boat (4-5 hours on a boat). The guides on the boat would point out monkeys jumping in the trees, dolphins, and rare birds. We were in the Amazon for 4 days. We experienced their extreme wet season, we swam in the Tiputini River, we designed our own field research, and we met the Huaorani people.
We then left the Amazon and spent a few days in the Andes, where we stayed in a hacienda. We watched Andean condors and saw incredible mountain peaks. I absolutely loved my study abroad program.

What would you improve about this program?
Some of the lodging was somewhat questionable. A hacienda we stayed at in the Andes lacked heating, and although there were quite a few large and cozy blankets it was very cold. Many of the showers were broken and also lacked hot water. Overall, I did enjoy the program and the majority of the lodging.
1 person found this review helpful.

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