Student Blogger Study Abroad

First Impressions of Ecuador

Each semester, one student from each HECUA program abroad takes on the role of student blogger, sending regular dispatches from the field. Emily Haus will be HECUA’s student blogger for the Community Internships in Latin America program this fall semester. Emily is a junior at Hamline University, majoring in Spanish and Sociology. Read on for Emily’s first post!

¡Hola, soy Emi! (Hello, I’m Emi)!

I’m a student in my third year at Hamline University in St. Paul Minnesota, but I am currently studying abroad with HECUA’s Community Internships in Latin America (CILA) program, in Quito, Ecuador.

At Hamline, I study Spanish, Sociology, and Women’s Studies, and the CILA program combined my interests perfectly. CILA focuses on social justice and social change, with individual learning emphasized through internships.  In addition to the internships, we have two classes: Politics and Development in Ecuador and Community Participation and Social Change, which offer sociological perspectives on Ecuador, as well as an independent research project (ISP) of our choice. In our classes, we have learned a lot about Ecuador’s history with the petroleum industry, lingering effects and actions of colonialism, and the complexities of the government.

The Basilica de San Francisco. We got to climb all the way to the top of one of the spires and see all of Quito, plus take some pretty cool pics if I do say so myself.

When I was looking at programs, I knew that I wanted to go to Latin America, but I just wasn’t sure where or with what program. When a friend suggested HECUA, I looked into it and was really interested in the ideas of community participation and social justice. After talking to my professors and finding out that the classes would count towards both my Spanish and Sociology majors, and that my independent research project and internship would count towards my Women’s Studies minor, I decided to go for it. I had learned a bit about Ecuador in my classes, but after I did a quick google search on Ecuador and found out that it had mountains, rainforests, and beaches, I was sold.

When applying to the program, I requested an internship placement site that focused on involve sustainability and gender, as I am very much fascinated by the connections society makes between women and nature. I was placed at La Granja Integral Pachamama, an organic farm run by women, which seemed like a great match.

Aside from the internship, I was very excited to live with a host family! I thought this would be a really cool way to learn about Ecuadorian culture and eat amazing food three times a day, and I have not been disappointed in any way. I live with the Corti family, and they have been extremely kind and welcoming to me. I can always depend on lively extended family members coming over for dinner (did I mention all of the food is delicious?), suggestions for things to do, and lessons on Ecuadorian slang.

Across a blue and white polka-dotted tablecloth a beautiful breakfast spread has been laid out. There's white bread, half an avocado, fruit jam and fruit salad, juice, tea, and a hot grain and fruit drink called a colada.
A standard breakfast: Pan con aguacate (avocado toast), Fresh juice, fresh fruit, a colada (hot grain and fruit drink), and a hot tea with herbs from the garden.

I also selected the program because of the unique field trips that are offered to Yasuní (the Amazon rainforest), Manabi (the coast) and Imbabura (city in the mountains). So far we’ve been to the Yasuní so far, and it was spectacular. As we hiked through the rainforest, we were accompanied by two biologists, as well as Waorani guides. Their presence made the hikes so much more meaningful. We saw more spiders in two days than I think I’ve seen in my entire life, ate ants that tasted like limes, saw puma footprints, and learned a ton about the rainforest. I’m looking forward to writing about our second and third field visits!

Me! On top of one of the mountains surrounding Quito.

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