Also known as “Maymesters,” these short-term programs led by HPU faculty provide students with the opportunity to be immersed in cultures unlike their own. Students connect what they learn in the classroom with the current events and cultural legacies that they encounter while abroad.
Students who took part in the trip were enrolled in the biology course, Biodiversity of Ecuador. Their travels included hiking through the Amazon rainforest, swimming with sea turtles and paying a visit to the equator. Each activity allowed students to observe the country’s unique, endangered species. Stops included the Amazon, a cruise through the Galapagos Islands and a visit to Quito, Ecuador’s capital.
The group also toured the Charles Darwin Research Station and the Equatorial Monument, where they participated in activities like walking along the equator and balancing an egg as proof of a change in gravity.
Students also dedicated a day to service at a local nonprofit organization and built relationships with indigenous families through activities such as baking.
“This trip was an amazing experience that helped further my education of biodiversity and experience the unique culture of Ecuador,” says HPU student Beth Nixon. “Traveling to every region of the country gave us the opportunity to observe and partake in unique opportunities. From hiking 12,000 feet into the Andes Mountains, to snorkeling with sea turtles and penguins in the Galapagos, I learned more than I imagined and enjoyed every second of it.”
“The experiences we encountered while in Ecuador allowed our students to step out of their comfort zone, try new things and gain valuable life skills that they can use in future adventures,” says Dr. Dinene Crater, HPU biology professor who co-led the trip. “Every activity provided the students with a small taste of the cultural and biodiversity that Ecuador has to offer, and they gained an appreciation for the value of global experiences.”
“We experienced a lot of firsts together,” says Dr. Veronica Segarra, biology professor at HPU. “We hiked up waterfalls in the cloud forest, took night hikes in the Amazonian wilderness, and snorkeled for the first time. Not only did these experiences vividly highlight what we learned in the classroom, but they weaved us together as part of one group and community.”