Few countries as small as Ecuador contain the remarkable geographic and biological diversity found in this Pacific coast nation. Rising from the jungles of the coast and bisected by the Andes, Ecuador is the product of complex interplay of historical factors. Indigenous cultures, Spanish imperialism, revolutionary movements, US hemispheric policies, and increasing globalization have all played their part in the development of a political and economic structure which, in many ways, is a case study for Latin America as a whole.
Pichincha, an active Andean volcano, provides a spectacular backdrop to Quito, one of Latin America’s most beautiful and livable cities. From above, the city is a sea of red tile roofs broken in a number of places by the towers of churches, which are among the continent’s great architectural gems. Quito also boasts a lively cultural and arts scene with numerous museums, concert halls and theaters.
The program’s combination of classes, field trips, field experiences/internships, and research links experience with theory and provides a critical analysis of development efforts and their effectiveness, sustainability, cultural appropriateness and equity. Students participating in the program develop a profound, firsthand understanding of the complex economic and social issues at work in Ecuador.
Once in Quito, students study as a group for 8 weeks, then participate in a 6-week internship followed by a final wrap-up week back together. Students on the year-long option build the field experience to an internship in greater depth. The academic year curriculum includes the internship and a related course for a total of 8 credits, plus a research project and related methods course for another 8.
Internship opportunities include working at family health care clinics, working with communities to develop eco-tourism, contributing to a rural adult literacy project, urban planning, and working in a shelter for street children.
MSID’s partner institution in Ecuador is Fundacion Cimas del Ecuador, a Quito-based nonprofit foundation. Dr. Jose Suarez is the Director of Cimas, and he also serves as MSID’s Academic Director. The Assistant Director of Cimas, Lic. Dolores (Loli) Lopez de Suarez, also serves as MSID’s Administrative Director, and arranges field placements and home stays.
The program is open to Allegheny juniors and seniors with a minimum GPA of 2.75. Course work related to the applicant’s track of interest and/or Ecuador or South America, or volunteer or social services experience is preferred. 2 years of college level Spanish is also required.
Allegheny students must first be approved to study off-campus before applying to their chosen program. Application deadlines are February 20 for fall programs and September 20 for spring programs. Applications will be reviewed immediately following the appropriate semester deadline. For more information about the off campus study application process, please visit: http://sites.allegheny.edu/offcampus/application/
MSID participants live with host families throughout the program. The homestay is an important venue for practicing Spanish and for gaining insights into Ecuadorian culture. The MSID-Ecuador facilities include five classrooms, a small library, a kitchen and dining area, a snack bar, a rest area and eight computers (connected to the Internet) set aside for student use.
Students pay Allegheny tuition, the off-campus fee ($300), room (Allegheny double room charge) and Allegheny mini meal plan. This covers program tuition, fees, room, most meals, international travel insurance and field trips (where applicable). Not included are visas, passport, some meals, airfare, pre-departure immunizations and personal expenses. Allegheny financial aid, except work/study, is applied to program costs. Allegheny College will arrange payment of the $400 program deposit required by MSID (applied to total cost), but students are responsible for the $50 application fee.