A smile is a smile: My trip to Ecuador

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A smile is a smile: My trip to Ecuador

School of Sustainability senior Tyler Gillespie says Ecuador was always a top destination on his list. Last summer, he got to cross it off as a student studying abroad with the Global Sustainability Studies Program. There, Gillespie studied culture diversity, visited historical sites and zip lined down a volcano. Now, he plans to join the Peace Corps after graduating.

Why did you choose to study sustainability in Ecuador?
Ecuador has always been a top destination for me because its location of where hemispheres collide. It also has a unique mix of ecosystems and environments that make for a compelling case study in biodiversity. Indigenous peoples, colonialism and neo-liberalism have all left their mark on the history of Ecuador and can all still be observed in the landscape and culture there today.

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Grateful for life and living for life: My experience in Ecuador

Chad-ecuardor-profile

Grateful for life and living for life: My experience in Ecuador

Arizona State University School of Sustainability student Chad Sharrard visited Ecuador last summer as part of the Global Sustainability Studies Program, a program within the Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives at ASU. While in Ecuador, Sharrard studied cultural aspects of sustainable development in the Andes. Here, he talks about his experience and the impact the trip made.

Why did you choose to study sustainability in Ecuador?
I have never been further south of the border than Puerto Peñasco, Mexico, and I wanted to see the real Latin America. I have a minor in Spanish as well and wanted to use that on this trip. Also the essence of an exotic location such as Ecuador really intrigued me and took my interest. So I did some prior application research and fell in love with Ecuador’s natural beauty and biodiversity.

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My experience with Victor Molina, ASU alumnus and native Ecuadorian

My experience with Victor Molina, ASU alumnus and native Ecuadorian

As I prepared for my 3-week excursion to the extraordinarily biodiverse and beautiful South American country of Ecuador, I hoped the impact of my experiences abroad would travel home with me at the end of the program. Upon my return that much was certainly true, but besides coming home with unforgettable memories and one-of-a-kind souvenirs, I came home with an expanded network of connections and opportunities that probably wouldn’t have been available to me had I not stepped out of my comfort zone and studied abroad.

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Ecuador: Three Projects, Three Days

Ecuador: Three Projects, Three Days

By Nich Weller

In three days, we toured three very different but very informative projects within the city of Ambato.  They highlighted many of the development efforts taking place within the country.  The first was a tour of Plasticaucho, a large manufacturing company based in Ambato.  Plasticaucho manufactures in affordable rain boots, tennis shoes, leather shoes, and other foot ware.  Many of their products utilize PVC (polyvinyl chloride), a substance derived from petroleum, rather than natural rubber to keep costs down.  But the products were not what stood out to me.  Plasticaucho’s dedication to their community and workforce was impressive.  The company provides its employees with numerous benefits and services in addition to playing an important role in the economic development of the city.  Extensive medical benefits, employment for the disabled, an intra-company sports league, an employee financial services center, and a sincere appreciation for their employees set Plasticaucho apart from my preconceived ideas of how a large manufacturing company operates.  While there are surely environmental costs to Plasticaucho’s expansive operations, their dedication to improving their community and the lives of their employees was impressive.  With more emphasis on environmental sustainability, perhaps Plasticaucho could serve as a sustainable model for other Ecuadorian businesses.

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Sustainability, Community, and Ecuador

Sustainability, Community, and Ecuador

By Nich Weller

As I mentioned in the last post, the theme of our study abroad program is diversity and sustainability in the Andes but I neglected the latter to discuss the diverse foods, people, and landscapes of Ecuador.  Through the last week, however, we have discussed (or at least touched on) sustainability with numerous government officials, citizens, and business leaders along with visiting a few sustainability related projects.  A few observations have stuck out to me.  First, the majority of folks we talk to seem to embrace various aspects of sustainability.  The government’s focus on creating a healthier, happier Ecuador seems to have had a large impact on the current policy discourse.  Local officials, guided by a countrywide political shift, mention the need for economic development along side preserving Ecuador’s rich cultural past and ecological systems.  While many of the projects we’ve seen are still in their infancy, local governments seem sincere about creating a sustainable Ecuador.

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Ecuador: Cuenca- I love you!

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Ecuador: Cuenca- I love you!

By Sarah Small

Hello beautiful surroundings! I’m currently lounging at a hot springs spa; enjoying some fresh cut fries, and beautiful company. The stars are so vivid against the sky that they seem bright enough to light up the mountain tops. The moon tonight is the most perfect crescent shape surrounded by flowing clouds and a jet black sky. It’s a gorgeous night to just lounge around in the warm springs and slip into the music of the water thats softly radiating outside. The baths are hot and quickly relaxed all of my muscles, making me feel light and free! The sauna was also incredible – diffusing essences of local eucalyptus leaves all throughout the room. My skin feels like its beaming and glowing with a gentle serenity from the waters.

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Ecuador: Living up to a Name

Ecuador: Living up to a Name

By Nich Weller

Our study abroad program is titled “Diversity and Sustainability in the Andes” and there has been no shortage of diversity in these first few days.  We have driven through an incredible range of the country dotted with cities, endless vegetation, steep ravines, snow-topped mountains, and the occasional volcano.   The markets of Ambato and Baños, two of the first three cities we’ve visited, are full of colorful and aromatic fruits, vegetables, and other foods that I’ve never seen nor tasted.  Additionally, we’ve seen an incredible diversity of people during our trip, from meeting with government officials to interacting with local businesses at the market to friendly Ecuadorians recommending sights to see (and even giving us a short tour).

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Ecuador: Llamingos

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Ecuador: Llamingos

By Sarah Small

Today we started our day by visiting the third volcano of the trip, Chimborazo. After a couple hours of the most terrifying and uncomfortable bus ride I’ve ever experienced we finally reached the snow line of the volcano. By terrifying bus ride I mean going really fast on a 50 person bus through crazy twisty roads that were literally on the edge of mountain cliffs. I may have saw my life flash before my eyes a few times. It’s funny because our driver is so casual about these frightening adventures, which I guess only adds to the experience.

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Ecuador: Hola Banos!

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Ecuador: Hola Banos!

By Sarah Small

So I just want to begin this blog by describing my surroundings. I am currently in Banos, a beautiful city in Ecuador known for tourism and extreme sports. It’s full of green mountains and is perfectly surrounded by an active volcano. There are waterfalls sporadically dotted all throughout the greenery and the rain will not stop dancing down on us. Thank goodness for my rain jacket to keep me dry and somewhat warm.

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Ecuador: Esta Lloviendo- It’s Raining!

Ecuador: Esta Lloviendo- It’s Raining!

By Sarah Small

Buenas tardes! Waking up in Ambato this morning with a breathtaking view of the hillside was more than I could ask for in my morning routine. This city is so full of color and life; it’s hard not to fall in love. We had breakfast at the hotel and I struggled to ask for bottled water instead of tap. This whole speaking Spanish thing is muy dificil but also extremely rewarding when I do it correctly.

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