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Study Abroad Ecuador


One of the last service projects our GGC delegation took part in was probably the most emotionally difficult. They visited the houses for orphan children of the Esmeraldan Foster Care System. Under the guidance of foster mothers, GGC students interacted and played with the foster children and got actively involved in the day-to-day life of those "Aldeas/foster homes."

This appointment was coordinated with:
Director, Aldeas Infantiles SOS-Ecuador

And what a beautiful way to end this service trip to Ecuador than with these children singing "We are the World!"

Our GGC delegates did plenty of sight-seeing, as well. Here are some of the places they went:

Guayasamin Museum: Oswaldo Guayasamín (1919 – 1999) was a Latin American master painter and sculptor best known for creating Pan-American portraits of human and social inequalities that reached international recognition.

City Tour: GGC students will receive a 3-hour tour of the City of Quito on a double-decker tour bus.

City of Esmeraldas: Students get to enjoy the beautiful beaches of Atacames. Afterwards, they dine in and receive a night tour of the City of Atacames.

Fiesta de Marimba: A fiesta in honor of the GGC Delegation was organized to highlight varied aspects of Afro-Ecuadorian tradition and culture (e.g. traditional dance, food and music). The GGC Delegation will celebrate with students from the University of Esmeraldas, faculty and other esteemed members of the Esmeraldan community.

View this slideshow of some of the places the GGC delegation experienced.

The GGC Delegation visited Semella, a nursery/day care center. Parents who have emigrated from rural areas of Ecuador, leave their children to be taken care of at Semella until they return from work. The nursery services some of the poorest populations in the region. The mission of this local, non-governmental organization (NGO) is to address many of the dire challenges facing the children and their parents.

View a slideshow of the GGC visit.

Our intrepid travelers also had the opportunity to enjoy lunch and meet with Cesar Pastor, the director of the Equinox Spanish School.

The name of the school is derived from the "Equinoctial Line," defined as "the great circle on the celestial sphere midway between the celestial poles." Equinoctial relates to equinox, defined as "the moment that happens twice a year, around the 21st of March and 22nd of September, when the sun is in the same plane as the equator." Since the school is in Ecuador, near the "middle of the world," they chose to use the name of Equinoccial or Equinox as a tribute to their geographical location.

Alyssa Stout, programs coordinator at Equinox in Quito, also wrote to tell us about two of our GGC students studying at Equinox along with students from Clemson University this summer. But there will be more on our two students in a later post.

The school was founded in 1986, is the second Spanish school in Quito, Ecuador. The school focuses on teaching Spanish, but also involves itself within the community through their Ecuador Volunteer Foundation, carries on various service projects in partnership with many colleges and universities and offers social help. Our students stayed with Ecuadorian host families through the Equinox Spanish School, therefore receiving a deeper and more meaningful saturation into Ecuadorian culture and lifestyle.

Learn more about the Equinox Spanish School.

See more images and read more stories on their Facebook page.

Equinox Spanish School logo

Here's a testimonial from one of our traveling students, Benjamin Hines, by permission of the Equinox Spanish School:

Benjamin HinesBenjamin Hines (USA) Georgia Gwinnett College
Hey Andrea,
Thank you for the email. My experience in Ecuador during those ten days earlier in the month was nothing short of amazing!! I absolutely enjoyed the brief time I got to spend in your great country. To be able to experience your language, customs, food and people was a chance of a lifetime and helped me to see that I will always have other options to help out the greater good outside of the United States. I hope that my adventure in Ecuador is the start of a great campaign to visit every continent in the world.
I was actually the only alumni on the trip. I graduated from GGC back in December (2012) and look to continue my education again at some point in the near future once I settle in somewhere. Part of me will always want to make it back down there to Ecuador but I must first sort out all the things I have back here in Georgia, first. I will be sure to let you know, though, if I can ever make it back sometime. Being part Spanish (Spain), one of my lifelong goals is to learn the language and understand more about the Spanish culture.
Thank you, again, for your school's hospitality during our group's stay in your great country. Just writing this email to you now is special for me because I'm communicating with someone on a whole different continent. I wish you, and the Equinox Spanish School, nothing but the very best in your future endeavors.
Thank you again for a great, great time. We'll be in touch.
- Ben Hines

The U.S. Peace Corps traces its roots and mission to 1960, when then Senator John F. Kennedy challenged students at the University of Michigan to serve their country in the cause of peace by living and working in developing countries. From that inspiration grew an agency of the federal government devoted to world peace and friendship. Since that time, more than 210,000 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in 139 host countries to work on issues ranging from AIDS education to information technology and environmental preservation. Today's Peace Corps is more vital than ever, working in emerging and essential areas such as information technology and business development, and contributing to the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. Peace Corps Volunteers continue to help countless individuals who want to build a better life for themselves, their children, and their communities.

Francis Ellis at Peace Corps Ecuador

Francis Ellis stands in front of the symbol for the Peace Corps (photo by Francis Ellis)

One of the service trips our GGC Delegation visited was with the Water Project of Mr. Justin Mullenix, a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer serving in Muisne, Esmeraldas. The town of Muisne is approximately one hour west of the City of Esmeraldas. Justin is one of many Peace Corps volunteers worldwide facilitating the construction or repair of community gravity-flow water systems, or training local masons in techniques including ferro-cement tank construction. Other Peace Corps volunteers throughout Latin America are helping to strengthen the management of water and sanitation infrastructure.

May 2013  
Time in Quito, Ecuador:
Currency: U.S. Dollar
Map It
The views expressed in this journal have minimal editing to present the reader with an authentic experience of the study abroad trip. Any opinions expressed here are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily represent the views or policies of Georgia Gwinnett College.