SIT Ecuador: Development, Politics, and Languages

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Study Ecuador's development processes while considering the relationship between power and discourse as the country's multilingual and multiethnic populations strive for social change and sustainability.

Major topics of study include:

* Power and politics in Ecuador, hegemonic and counter-hegemonic discourses of development
* How different groups in Ecuador conceptualize and talk about issues such as sustainability, restoration, extractive industries, social inclusion, and inter-ethnic relations
* The impact of Ecuador’s development processes on the environment, discourses surrounding sustainability and quality of life
* The relationship between the language(s) of political power and social movements in Ecuador
* Indigenous languages, politics, interculturalism, and plurinationality

Questions & Answers


9.5 Rating
based on 6 reviews
  • Academics 7.7
  • Support 9.7
  • Fun 9.5
  • Housing 8
  • Safety 8
Showing 1 - 6 of 6
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Yes, I recommend this program

Finding family and community in Ecuador

My experience in SIT program Ecuador: Development, Politics, and Languages was profoundly moving and not simply because I was able to have once-in-a-lifetime experiences like snorkeling in the Galápagos and hiking through the Amazon rainforest, but also because of the incredibly strong connections I built with the people of Ecuador.

I was fortunate to have amazing host family that supported me throughout the entire program and significantly incorporated me into their family dynamic. The bonds that I made with them will continue for my whole life, I'm sure of it.

An absolutely outstanding element of this program is the ISP (Independent Study Project) at the very end of the program. I decided to stay in Quito and work with one of the foremost LGBTQIA organizations of Ecuador. I worked on a fundraising project for about four weeks and learned the ins and outs of non-profit work. Throughout this ISP experience, I was able to share my own personal experiences with my Ecuadorian coworkers which helped me to understand my own personal position and helped me to start asking questions about who I am and where I come from.

The SIT Ecuador: Development, Politics, and Languages program seems to have affected me in a way that I don't think any other program would. Every single moment of the experience was instructive and just so richly gratifying. I can honestly and truthfully say that this program changed the way I think and will continue to do so as I move on through my academic and professional career.

What would you improve about this program?
If you are a student looking for an intensely rigorous academic program, this program is probably not for you. The style of instruction in classes is quite different from that of most universities or colleges, those in the USA at least. You might, at times, feel as if the work is a bit tedious and less than stimulating. However, this does not mean that you will not learn anything, because the majority of the learning of this program is experiential, whether it is going on excursion for a rural homestay or simply walking into a market to buy a pastry.
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Yes, I recommend this program

An amazing opportunity for intercultural, personal, and academic development

My experience abroad in Ecuador was by far the best part of my academic experience thus far. Applying our studies to experiences in different communities and landscapes in Ecuador helped me to draw a deeper emotional connection to my academics. For example, while learning about developmental paradigms in Ecuador, I had a rural homestay with a family who had been part of a movement against copper mining in the Intag cloud forest region of Ecuador. Over dinner, they would tell me detailed stories of the risks and rewards involved in trying to prevent exploitation and how they were creating a sustainable economy through art.
I also loved the ISP portion of this program. I volunteered with an organization called Uniendo Fuerzas Formamos Futuro (UFFF) on Isabela of the Galápagos which does holistic education programs (i.e., theater, dance, acrobatics) for kids and English classes for kids and adults on the island. I investigated how holistic education addresses real themes/problems in people's day to day lives, such as gender, the environment, and cultural practices.

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Yes, I recommend this program

Field-based, hands-on, AMAZING!

SIT Ecuador: Development, Politics, and Languages could not have been a better experience. I applied to the program on a whim following the advice of my study abroad advisor and it could not have been a more perfect fit, and the hands-on, field-based experience we had was once in a lifetime. From city life in Quito to the coast of Guayaquil and the Galapagos Islands, all the way to the Amazon, we had the unique opportunity of being able to learn first-hand about Ecuador's most pressing socio-political issues from those directly involved in grassroots organizations and those affected by the ever-shifting political climate. Fabian, the academic director, is the most knowledgeable and passionate teacher I have ever had in my life. He and Sofia (the assistant director) were a constant support structure throughout the entire process and were always ready, willing, and able to lend an ear, a hand, or whatever you might need. I was able to immerse myself in Ecuadorian culture through my homestays and consequently improved my Spanish dramatically. The ISP was an incredible experience; I was able to prove to myself that I can, do, and will belong in academia, an aspect I have been doubting about myself for a long time. The opportunity to engage in field-based primary research at that level with the level of support that we had is something incredibly unique. The best part of the program is that you can really mold it to your academic interests- whether you're passionate about the environment, human migration, linguistics, gay rights, etc. etc., you can make the program what you want it to be!

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Yes, I recommend this program

For adventurous types looking for an immersive experience

A truly fulfilling study abroad experience in an amazing country. Challenging and immersive. Do yourself a favor and choose SIT Ecuador!!

Host Country Program Administration:

The staff on hand take care of all the logistics, leaving you to soak up as much of the country and language as you can.


Living arrangements were exactly what I wanted: caring host families who want to include you in everything they do. Seriously, everything. Be prepared to go grocery shopping, go to family weddings, leave in a car without knowing where you are going, etc. That's just how it is in Ecuador. They want to make you a part of the family. It can be exhausting at times, but totally worth it in your language gains and cultural immersion.


Ceviche, maduros, sopas ricas. Everything is fresh. You will try so many incredible fruits and vegetables that you have never had before. If you are vegetarian you will be accommodated.

Social & Cultural Integration:

I felt very integrated into the local culture. Being a foreigner, you will always stand out, but that doesn't mean you can't become part of a community. People in Ecuador are very willing to include you in their plans, especially your host families. Your host family will be your best route to making lots of Ecuadorian friends. If you are worried that you won't be immersed because you won't be in an Ecuadorian university, don't be. I had the same worry going into the program, but I was so glad to have some time each day with the other SIT students. You will spend almost all of your free time with your host family or other Ecuadorian friends anyways.

Health Care:

I did not have any health issues besides some minor "indigestion" (almost unavoidable). Other students on the program received great medical attention for other issues.


Let's be real, living in Ecuador is like living in any other developing country: it's not always safe, but you can always stay safe by taking precautions. Travel in groups, don't go out alone after dark, etc. Taxis are perfectly safe as long as you know what to look for. Your program staff does a tremendous job advising you on how to do this. We had one student robbed, but this student simply got too comfortable and made the mistake of going out alone after dark. Follow the advice of the program leaders and you will be just fine!


I did not spend very much money at all in Ecuador. Your program costs cover all meals and transportation, even those costs incurred on program excursions. Other things that you will want to spend money on (clothes, crafts, going out, nestle galaks) don't cost much by western standards.


Your classes are in Spanish, even though they are taken with the other SIT students. You are placed in individual homestays, so you have no choice but to use Spanish there. On excursions with the other SIT students, you can talk in English but are of course encouraged to always use Spanish!

SIT Ecuador is an incredible experience. The program staff, especially the academic director, Fabian, is so helpful. You will learn so much about the world and about yourself.

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Yes, I recommend this program

Transformative, engaging program

There is simply too much to write about this program. I'll do my best to give you a sense of how impactful the experience was on my life.

First, let's start with the country. Ecuador is a unique country that has just about any sort of geographical/ecological environment you could want: gorgeous coastline, snow-capped mountains, and primary rain forests. Undoubtedly, the best part of the curriculum for this program is that it sees the whole country as the classroom. A series of "excursions" takes you across the entirety of Ecuador, from the cultural metropolis of Quito (sitting at 9000 ft), to sparsely populated kichwa-speaking communities in the Amazon river basin. You get to hike through the Intag cloud forest and call it a day of school!

Even in the ACTUAL classroom, though, this program is awesome. It centers on the concept of interculturalism, and how politics and development can flow outwards from the idea of respecting peoples' culture, identity, and self-sufficiency. It challenges many of our US- and Euro-centric concepts of development. The courses are not hard (grade-wise) but will challenge you to change your perspective on many issues. And it was successful in my case. I still find myself thinking in ways that I wouldn't have if I didn't go abroad and see/ process different styles of living and thinking.

All that is kind of secondary, though, to what is the true, lasting impact of this course: the PEOPLE you meet. This certainly starts with your academic director (AD). When I was on this trip, I had the great fortune to have two fantastic ADs: Fabian Espinosa and Leonore Cavallero. I really should start by saying how brilliant they are -- they know so much about the people and history of Ecuador, and tie it in craftily to our US-centric understanding of history -- but I can't. This is because they are some of the best and most caring PEOPLE I've ever met, plain and simple. Anything you need, they will help you. Any life advice you may seek, they provide. They truly do their best to understand your situation (abroad, alone, etc.) and provide insight that is so meaningful.

Beyond the ADs, Ecuadorians generally are just so kind and helpful. I had three different host families while in the country, and I still keep in touch with two of them. They cooked such delicious meals (ceviche, locro, empanadas de platanos -- ay, I miss it) and were so accommodating. I really owe so much of my experience to the people who welcomed me into their homes and really made me feel like part of the family. They facilitated the best kind of intercultural exchange, where we each tried to give insight into aspects of our own culture and share in the beauty of each (but they had the better food).

Lastly, the rest of my peers on the program were so dope! It was fun to share our worries and apprehensions as well as the hikes and fun nights out that we shared. I formed some really strong and meaningful friendships while in Ecuador -- with these kiddos, the host families, and the ADs. I can't overstate how impactful these people have been on my life.

What would you improve about this program?
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Yes, I recommend this program

This is a lifechanging and eye-opening trip

Ecuador is an incredible country that is so ecologically and culturally diverse. It was so eye-opening to have the opportunity to interact with this diversity of communities and learn about different ways of life and different struggles facing the country- as well as AWESOME language practice. The trip integrates excursions at just the right times, and they offer a fun and rejuvenating break. While coursework isn't hard, per say-- as the emphasis of this program is self exploration and challenge and cultural learning, and the homework will never inhibit that-- it definitely gets you interacting with the community and learning from diverse locals firsthand. Faba is also simply incredible. Do this trip!

What would you improve about this program?
Definitely made me appreciate purified drinking water :) But honestly more than anything this became a joke on the trip and definitely brought us all closer and stronger!