• Ecuador
    • Quito
Fall, Spring
Subject Areas
Anthropology Communications Education History Latin American Studies Political Science Psychology Social Sciences Sociology Sustainable Development Women's Studies +1

Program Details

Program Type
Degree Level
Host Family


Starting Price
Price Details
View cost information: https://studyabroad.sit.edu/program/spring-2024-ecuador-development-politics-and-languages/?subpage=cost_scholarships
What's Included
Some Activities Airport Transfers Classes Travel Insurance
Oct 13, 2023
Jun 18, 2023
1 traveler is looking at this program

About Program

Living in Ecuador, you will experience a multilingual and multiethnic nation that is also one of the America’s most biologically diverse countries. Here, you’ll study development as well as alternatives grounded in indigenous worldviews that call for respect of natural resources. Two homestays will deepen your understanding of both urban and rural life and culture in Ecuador.

On excursions to the threatened Andean Chocó Biosphere Reserve and the Galápagos Islands you will observe the conflict between development and natural resource preservation. You will also visit the Upper Amazon, where you will experience direct exposure to political ecology and socio-linguistic issues regarding this highly diverse but threatened region.

Video and Photos

Program Highlights

  • Study development, power, and language in a multilingual, multiethnic society.
  • Visit the spectacular Galápagos Islands, the Cloud Forest, and Upper Amazon Basin.
  • Explore how languages instill, reinforce, and subvert power relationships.
  • Learn how to identify your own cultural biases and imagine a different society.


SIT Robert Kantor Memorial Scholarship

Each year one student will be granted $10,000 in scholarship aid to study abroad with a SIT program. Funded by individual donors and foundations, the requirements are tight: seeking first-generation college students who've never traveled abroad before, currently attend an HBCU, and demonstrate strong financial need.

Program Reviews

5.00 Rating
based on 14 reviews
  • 5 rating 100%
  • 4 rating 0%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 0%
  • 1 rating 0%
  • Academics 4.35
  • Support 5
  • Fun 5
  • Housing 4.6
  • Safety 4.25
Showing 1 - 8 of 14 reviews
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Yes, I recommend this program

SIT Ecuador

This program can be very challenging, as it moves quickly, exposes you to various different environments, etc, but the amount of learning (both personally and academically) that can be gained makes it well worth it. Personally, I found the ISP (independent study project) especially challenging, but I learned more than I could have possibly imagined about the topic of my research, the process of doing research, and my own personal interests and boundaries. Also, the SIT community in-country (the director, coordinator, and my classmates) formed a really incredible community that was an important support system and also a highlight of the semester.

  • Stellar leadership/admin in-country
  • You get to see many parts of Ecuador
  • You get to experience many ways of learning (i.e. lectures, workshops, host families, etc)
  • Safety issues restrict transportation/travel
  • Academic work is not consistent (high concentration of assignments during certain weeks)
22 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Challenging and Invigorating!

In every aspect and level of the program I learned something. From the most basic demonstration to doing things for the first time myself, there was always support and encouragement. The excursions built off the classes in a purposeful way to create a complexly intertwined learning experience. I got to go so many places and was met with welcoming and great food at each place. The faculty was extremely kind and made me and the other students feel like family and having a smaller group of students was a great benefit for making friends.

The speed of the program is purposefully planned so that you can feel integrated right away and have all your questions answered when you first get there. We spent a week in a hotel away from the big city getting the first few steps in relationship building, planning for the semester, and taught about the health concerns, what to do in emergencies, and more. Moving into our first homestay seemed hard, but it was those things (the feel-like-home things) that got a lot easier during the program, as the academics and time spent away from school got harder. I enjoyed both my homestays and felt extremely welcomed by each Ecuadorian I met. The excursions were flawless and some of my favorite learning experiences. I chose to do my ISP away from everyone else which was very hard after making such great friends with everyone. I knew I could always turn to Faba, Sofia, or any of the SIT mental health resources at any moment.

Fabian and Sofia, the program directors, taught us along the way and were there to make sure we had everything we needed. They helped in every transition, from the introduction week to the first and second homestays, and each of the excursions. I felt as prepared as I needed to be for each experience. I loved my time there and am so grateful for everyone who made it perfect.

  • Faculty
  • People
  • Excursions
  • Not food allergy friendly
39 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

A splendid semester in Ecuador

The SIT Development, Politics, and Languages Program in Ecuador was a fabulous experience. Between the interesting classroom discussions, super fun excursions, and amazing people I met, I had an incredible semester.
The academic director, Fabian Espinosa balances fun, laid-back chats with deeply interesting talks by him and other guest lecturers. Sofia, the program coordinator, was like a second mother and made sure we were always safe, comfortable, and happy. My host families (I had two during my semester) were incredibly welcoming and made me feel like a part of their family.
In terms of academics, I learned so much both in the classroom and out in the country. The experiential learning approach was an amazing way to learn about issues from multiple disciplines and beyond a traditional classroom setting. We learned about traditional medicine and community resistance strategies on our excursion to the Amazon, we studied biodiversity and environmental protection on our trip to the Galapagos (plus we got to snorkel), and we heard from amazing activists and political figures with a wealth of knowledge in our daily classes.
During the ISP period, I lived in an apartment in Cuenca with one of my friends from the program, and we both worked at organizations in the area, while simultaneously doing research for our respective projects. This independence was such an important opportunity to explore the country on my own and build deeper connections with local communities and with the other SIT students.
At the end of the 3.5 months, it was hard to say goodbye. To say that the experiences I had in Ecuador changed me would be an understatement. I felt transformed, not only by all of the things I had learned and the people I had met, but by the personal growth that had occurred as a result of all of these things.
If you want to improve your Spanish and spend several months in a beautiful and welcoming country, I highly recommend this program. I learned so much and I am so grateful to my host family, Faba and Sofia, and my wonderful friends from the program for making it an unforgettable trip.

  • Amazing excursions in a beautiful country
  • Super interesting lectures and classroom discussions
  • Unforgettable connections with fantastic people
  • Can experience culture shock and may take time to adjust
40 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Influential, fulfilling, eye-opening

This program will deepen you as a human, sharpen you as a scholar, and broaden your perspective on social justice, coloniality, and environmental politics. Faba, the academic director who has led this program for 20 years, is one of the wisest, kindest mentors I have ever had. He is deeply embedded in many communities in Ecuador. Sofia, the program coordinator, is incredibly warm, wonderful to talk and laugh with, and extremely capable. Together, they will make you feel welcome from the moment you arrive.

I loved my experience with my host families, all of our excursions--to the Galapagos, the Amazon, Intag--were impeccably planned and so much fun, with beautiful lodging and delicious food. Our group bonded well and had a blast on all of our trips and while exploring Quito and other locations independently. We were given a lot of autonomy over our choices and treated like adults, while having just the right amount of structure and guidance to make our free time safe and enjoyable.

The guest scholars and community activists that lecture in the class are well known throughout Ecuador and you will learn so much through conversations in class. The academics were less traditionally rigorous than at my home university but I learned so much through the experiential components and class material. The chance to develop my social science research skills while living alone and completing an independent project (ISP) was invaluable for my honors thesis and future research.

The chance to go from lush Amazon in Pastaza to the snow-capped peak of Volcan Cotopaxi in 24 hours captures the beauty of studying in Ecuador. The friends I made at local universities and my host families I am still in touch with capture another facet of what makes Ecuador so special. Choose this program; you won't regret it.

  • Research experience
  • Incredible natural landscapes
  • Well-organized and fun instructors
  • Due to safety concerns and poor walkability, Quito is sometimes hard to feel at home in
37 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

SIT Ecuador: Development, Politics and Languages

This program is very fun and well organized. The excursions are well-planned, interesting and complement the material covered in classes. The program advisors are friendly and kind and genuinely care to help the students in the program. The program is a great mix between structured travel and chances for independent travel/experiences. The independent study aspect is a great way to gain research experience and delve into a topic that you are interested in with the support of the staff. Overall great program!

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
I got to eat guinea pig in Cuenca. It was good once you got over seeing its face on your plate!
57 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

SIT Ecuador: Development, Politics, and Languages

I absolutely loved this program. It's so cliché to say, but it really was a life-changing experience for me. I found the academics to be extremely stimulating, but the outside-the-classroom workload was reasonable, which left plenty of time to explore the country. I was especially impressed with how the coursework was accessible to everyone, regardless of Spanish-speaking ability. We had a wide range in our cohort, from native speakers to total newbies, but somehow everyone seemed to feel comfortable and appropriately challenged. As others have noted here, the excursions to the Amazon, Galapagos, and Intag cloud forest were absolutely amazing, in terms of both the ecological and cultural diversity that we had the opportunity to engage with. Our cohort was larger-than-average, with about 24 students, but we were very close. I think everyone felt that they had a solid group of friends to go out and explore the country with. Faba and Sofia were are just the best, very supportive but not at all helicopter-y. The class discussion was very open-ended, with wide variety of viewpoints, as we had students of a variety of nationalities. This was sometimes challenging and very intellectually engaging. My homestay experiences were both excellent, as most or all of the homestay families have long-standing relationships with the program directors and have lots of prior experience hosting foreign students.

For me, the most impactful part of the program was the Independent Study Project (ISP). For this project, we were allowed to stay just about anywhere in the country for four weeks, and work on a research project of our own design. However, we had to partner with a community organization in our project location, and the program directors have relationships with organizations all over, so no one had to be truly "out on their own" if they didn't want to be. I chose to work with a social movement that was protesting state-sponsored mining in the Intag cloud forest. I had such a good experience, and built such strong relationships with community members there, that when I got back to my university in the US, I immediately started working on a way to go back. Ultimately, I assembled a student team, and we were awarded over $20,000 in funding to return to Intag. So, I spent three more months in Ecuador supporting the work of multiple community organizations after graduating from UVA in 2019. I stayed with the same homestay family that I had met in 2018, and I am still in touch with them today. So, I would say that the was not only a great way to forge long-lasting relationships with local people, it also went a long way towards advancing my young career. As soon as it is safe, I can't wait to go back!

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
Cuy, obviously! But don't worry, I had to go out of my way to try it, no one is going to force feed you.
60 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

The BEST experience!

There are not enough words to describe how life changing this program was for me! The academics were challenging in that it taught me to see from a different perspective and imagine different ways of being and living. Classes were very relaxed though and open for everyone to share their thoughts and experiences. We also frequently had guest speakers who were prominent community leaders or government officials. Additionally, we were able to directly apply our knowledge in breathtaking excursions to the Amazon Rainforest and the Galapagos Islands (more were planned but the program was unfortunately cut short due to COVID-19). During these excursions, we stayed in the nicest places I have ever been to! In the Amazon we stayed at a sustainable finca, hiked through the rain forest, were spiritually cleansed, and listened to a presentation by an important community activist. In the Galapagos, we hiked through volcanos, snorkled with sharks, sea turtles, and sea lions, and experienced some important local community organizations. The most impactful aspect, though, were the people I met here. I have never been surrounded by a more kind and loving group of people. The entire group developed such a close bond from the get-go and we spent the whole program together, planning activities after class and even going out of town on the weekends.
It is also important to note that I never felt unsafe here. Although I was studying abroad during the beginning of the pandemic, SIT and my program directors did everything they could to ensure the health and safety (and even happiness) of their students. The academic directors, Faba and Sofia, were incredible in helping us navigate the unprecedented conditions we were experiencing.
This program has so much to offer and allows you enough free-time to craft it into the perfect study abroad experience. I am now the person who can't shut up about their study abroad experience!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
The first weekend we were in Quito, the whole group decided to hop on a 10-hour bus-ride to go to Banos. One day, we biked for 14 miles to see 7 different waterfalls--even climbing through a cave to see one of them! We also zip-lined over a valley and rode a suspended cart right up to a waterfall. These are things I would normally be too scared, and definitely no fit enough, to do, but I'm so so so glad I did!
67 people found this review helpful.
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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.
76 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers