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ECUADOR – People and Ecosystems of the High Andes

Dates: June 15- July 2, 2012
Trip leaders: David ZonanaErin GoodlingPeter Green
Eligible students: 9th - 12th grade Spanish language students
Number of students: 12-15
Estimated cost: $3,100

Join leaders David Zonana, Erin Goodling, and Peter Green for an amazing two and a half weeks in Ecuador.  While in country, students will deepen their understanding of the natural and cultural diversity of the High Andes of Ecuador, strengthen their spanish skills, and gain outdoor skills and experience in the wonderful Andean Cloud Forest and Paramo (high Andean grassland) ecosystems.

Students will work alongside people from the Yachay Wasi school in Quito, a community school that provides local indigenous youth with a full academic education, including a multi-disciplinary education in the history, language, traditions, culture, and cosmo-vision of the Andean-Amazonian indigenous peoples.  The two-part mission of the Yachay Wasi School is consistant wit the curricular goals of this trip: to teach students and community members to be in harmony with nature, and to learn about and revitalize the indigenous Kichwa culture, wisdom, and language.  Catlin students will celebrate Inti Raymi (Festival of the Sun) - the most important date in the Kichwa calendar - while at the Yachay Wasi school.  The Catlin group will also deliver and work on a student-designed service project while at the school.  The Catlin group will work to develop this service project in conjuncture with the Upper School's Environmental Science class in the term leading up to the trip.

There is a strong possibility of homestay while in San Clemente, a Kichwa-Karanki community on the slopes of Volcan Imbabura.  The trip could include the climbs of one or two Andean volcanoes.  The nature of these climbs, the height and exposure, depends on student interest and the group's collaboration with the adult leaders.

Trip Preparations

In the months leading up to this powerful experience, students will take part in some fun and meaningful preparations.  We will partner with other groups within the Catlin community, as well as outside groups to put together our service project for our time at Yachay Wasi, as well as to learn about the topics and issues that we will see first hand while in country.  As Rolph Potts describes in his book, Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel, world travel "is not merely a ritual of getting immunizations and packing suitcases.  Rather, it it's the ongoing practice of looking and learning, of facing fears and altering habits. of cultivating a new fascination with people and places.  This attitude is not something you can pick up at the airport counter with your boarding pass; it's a process that starts at home.  It's a process by which you first test the waters that will pull you to wonderful new places."  Here are some of the things that we hope to do before our travels:

  • Outdoor Program Trips.  Students are encouraged to join trips  during the school year to build outdoor living and group skills.
  • Ecuador Winterim.  We will spend time together, outdoors in order to develop our service project, absorb relevant materials, and get to know each other as a group.
  • Partnerships with on-campus curriculum.  We will work on our service project in collaboration with Dan Griffith's Environmental Science Course, the 6th grade class, and the Global Citizen's Club.
  • Cultural Competency Workshop.  We will take part in a workshop at the Mercy Corps Action Center.
  • David and Erin will be visiting Ecuador on a scouting trip in December to further the groups's connections and to open dialog with our in-country partners.


View Ecuador Summer 2012 in a larger map

All photos on this page, and in the gallery below, were taken by David Zonana on a trip to Ecuador in 2008.