Students fly into Quito and spend approximately four weeks in Ecuador as part of International Inspiration. They gain a profound understanding and global perspective of social justice issues, interact with local changemakers, engage in family homestay experiences, and work on service-learning projects.
Participants of The Pangaea Project travel to two sites in the Amazon rainforest, one decimated by oil drilling, and one kept pristine through the tireless efforts of leaders of an indigenous tribe. They visit an area thought to hold the greatest stores of copper on the planet, where locals have successfully kept mining companies at bay by empowering leaders internally, organizing locally, and advocating nationally.
During International Inspiration, students are impacted profoundly by the homestay experience where they live two-by-two with host families, and immerse in local life and culture. Not only is the sense of community and connectedness inspiring, but many participants form deep relationships with the host families. Through the homestay experience, students learn to work with people unlike themselves, build empathy, and understand the interconnectedness of people across cultures, which are essential skills for any leader.
In Ecuador, the homestay takes place in Yunguilla, where people formerly survived through unsustainable practices that threatened the integrity of the surrounding nature reserve. After recognizing the deleterious effects of their actions in the late 1990s, the villagers initiated community-based enterprises and community tourism as alternative sources of income generation. Pangaea students participate in daily activities and tasks related to the enterprises such as jam making, cheese production, and cow milking.
ABOUT ECUADOR: Ecuador is a Spanish-speaking country about the size of Colorado. It has a developing economy and a democratically elected government. Ecuador is geographically and ethnically diverse. In general, tourist facilities are adequate but vary in quality. Ecuador adopted the U.S. dollar as its official currency in 2000. Both U.S. coins and Ecuadorian coins, which are equivalent to the value of the U.S. coins, are used. Read the Department of State Background Notes on Ecuador for additional information.