“Yachana” is a Kichwa indigenous word that means “a place for learning.”
Date: On hiatus in 2017
Number of students: 14
Program Director: Carmen Muñoz-Fernández
Faculty Leaders: Marisela Ramos and Chloe Epstein
Themes: Globalization, Indigenous Cultures, Spanish Language, Biodiversity
Ecuador is a small, but incredibly rich diverse country, considered one of seventeen “megadiverse” countries in the world, and populated by more than 14 indigenous groups and a thriving Afro-Ecuadorian population. By traveling and learning from three distinct geographical areas within the country: Quito and the Andean Mountains, the tropical forest at the Amazon Basin, and the outstanding marine reserve at the Galapagos Islands, PA students will reflect on the concept of globalization and its effects, and in particular, at how the country has adapted and persisted throughout its history. Yachana Ecuador is an innovative educational program that approaches learning through an interdisciplinary lense. Through a blend of focused instruction, experiential and collaborative activities, and real-life adventures, students expand their knowledge of both the sciences and the humanities. Using design thinking and systems thinking methods, students will reflect on where individuals, communities, and nations fit into economic, cultural, political and social strata. PA students will develop tangible skills, be able to reflect on their impact and position in the world, while acting independently and obtaining agency
Our program will start in Quito, Ecuador’s modern capital, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and a center for both colonial Incan and Spanish encounters. Quito is the excellent setting for an introduction to historical antecedents of globalization. There we will collaborate with local schools and organizations to develop tools for learning about the Ecuadorian past and engaging in discussions about its future.
In the Amazon we will learn how a community has adapted to their environmental surroundings and the ever-growing tourism industry. We will partner with Douglas McMeekin and the Yachana Foundation and Training Center, an organization that has worked in the Amazon region of Ecuador for the past 21 years, and whose mission is to provide a quality accredited high school and vocational education to indigenous youth from remote regions of the Amazon.
PA students will be paired with Yachana students to work together on innovative projects such as sustaining an aquaponics system, building a butterfly garden, or developing sustainable irrigation and crop methods for banana farms.
THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS:
The Galapagos Islands offer more than just an ecological adventure. They provide the perfect setting to help students make connections between academic subjects and the world. Given the historical context of Darwin’s research, the Galapagos Islands provide the ideal context for these connections to form.