SU returns to Ecuador for study abroad trip

Students and faculty members of Stevenson University traveled to Ecuador in January 2019 as part of the university’s international and off-campus study program.

Students who went on the trip to Ecuador got the opportunity to become fully immersed in the local culture. (Photo from the Stevenson University International and Off-Campus Study Facebook Page)

The trip, which took place from Jan. 5-18, was offered to students as an alternative to traditional classroom learning. This course also fulfilled a SEE-certified requirement, which students need in order to graduate from the university.

According to the Stevenson University International and Off-Campus Study Facebook page, one of those classes was “From Andes to Amazon: a Study in Herbal Remedies.” This course counted as a SEE-certified chemistry laboratory course (CHEM 206).

Chemistry lecturer Kaitlin Bailey said, “Ecuador was chosen from its immense biodiversity,” adding, “The course [allowed] students to experience another culture’s indigenous medicine firsthand.”

Senior biology major Alex Singh said she wanted to take this course due to her interest in herbal medicine. Her goal after graduation is to become a pediatrician.

Singh said the course consisted of hikes through the forest with natives and researchers who pointed out certain plants and explained their medicinal properties. She added that the chemistry class attended lectures from different professors at the University of San Francisco de Quito to learn more about the Ecuadorian culture and Andean medicine.

“The trip to Ecuador really opened my eyes to how fortunate we are in America,” Singh said. “The trip also made me realize how genuine the people were…they were so kind and expected nothing in return.”

Singh recalled her favorite experience was traveling through the Amazon rainforest on a boat on the Tiputini River, along with an opportunity to observe pink river dolphins.

“It was always my dream to swim with dolphins,” Singh said. “Never in my wildest dreams would I expect to float on a boat and a pink river dolphin to swim with us.”

Another biology major, Kate Bentley, also participated in the course.

“I would go back to Ecuador and the Amazon in a heartbeat,” said Bentley. “If I had to take a gap year to go back, I would. There was so much to learn down there, and I will go down there just to do research.”

While in Ecuador, Bentley said the trip opened her eyes after meeting with the locals and the indigenous people. Traveling also made her realize that many in the United States “live in a bubble.”

“Everything they have, they work for,” Bentley said. “The way they live was so different from the way we live. For example, the only people you would see on their phones in the city were tourists or college students from Ecuador. It was crazy just to see it.”

According to Tracey Mason, professor of chemistry at Stevenson University, the School of the Sciences plans to propose the trip again for the following year.

For more information about studying abroad, contact the Office of International and Off-Campus Study through campus email.

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