The International Programs office will be offering a service trip for students to travel and volunteer in Ecuador over spring break.
It’s not often that a student gets to jump in hot springs, hike to Amazon waterfalls and make a difference in an indigenous culture.
Mary Andronis, an adjunct faculty member in the world languages department, and Susan Morgan, coordinator of education abroad and exchange programs, are jointly leading students to Educador.
“I feel very comfortable there, and am excited to bring students down,” Andronis said.
Andronis studied anthropological linguistics in graduate school and that brought her to Ecuador, where she studied the Quichua language and culture.
Andronis’ work in Ecuador first started in 2001. It included building a radio station in Salasaca, a small community in the Ecuadorian highlands, and assisting with the development of a foundation school, Katitawa, where NMU students will be volunteering.
An interest meeting was held on Friday, Sept. 14. The Ecuador volunteer service abroad trip is tentatively planned for March 2 through 10, 2013.
The trip will cost between $1,900 and $2,100 and includes transportation, lodging, meals, an interpretive guide and money for donations brought to the foundation school. The trip has a limited capacity and can only accommodate 15 students.
The tentative schedule for the first day has students exploring the city of Quito and various landmarks, including Museo Intiñan and Mitad del Mundo. Part of the city that students will explore originated from the Inca empire.
Students will then make their way into the indigenous population of Salasaca to immerse themselves in the Quichua culture. There, the volunteering will begin at the foundation school.
“The school is a building on a foundation of many volunteers,” Andronis said. It is not part of the school system in Ecuador.
The Quichua culture does not speak fluent Spanish. They are very isolated from city life, but have become an open community since tourism has grown. The dress of the Quichua is very traditional.
“Women wear wool skirts and brightly colored ponchos and the men wear black ponchos,” Adonis said.
After students are done volunteering, they will have the chance to relax in natural hot springs in a small city called Baños de Agua Santa.
There will be opportunities to volunteer with local farms that are part of a world wide organization of organic farmers, as well as time for biking and shopping.
The next phase of the trip will be a visit to the Amazon in the Napo Province, which is home to scenic waterfalls.
Accommodations for students will include a stay in an eco-lodge. This part of the Amazon, as Andronis explained, is a secondary growth forest and is used for many studies.The conclusion of the trip will result in volunteering for a Quichua project.
“You can make a difference in a short period of time,” Andronis said.
Morgan, who accompanied Andronis through Ecuador as they mapped the trip for the program, encourages students to take a part in study abroad opportunities.
“It is really a life changer, and college is the perfect time to do it because in no other time in your life will you be completely to yourself,” Morgan said.
Students who are interested in the Ecuador volunteer service abroad trip can attend two more interest meetings.
The first will be from 4 to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 25 in the Back Room of the U.C. and the second will be from 3 to 4 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 18 in the Marquette Room of the U.C.