WSC group heads to Ecuador

Melanie Alyea, Staff Writer

Eighteen lucky people from WSC, 14 students and 4 staff/faculty members, will be enjoying a summer in the heat and jungle for two weeks in Ecuador.

The trip is part of a five-week Service Learning Study Abroad summer class, in which the students and faculty will learn more about the local culture, politics, history, art, biology and geography of the cities they will be visiting.

“An important part of this class is the Service Learning component, in which WSC students will actively engage and collaborate with the Ecuadorian people in a cultural exchange, encompassing diverse learning and service opportunities,” Shawn Pearcy, a life sciences professor and member of the faculty who will be traveling with the students, said.

The group will fly in and out of Quito, the capital city of Ecuador. During the stay, they will visit Quito, Otavalo, San Clemente, Puyo, Sharamentsa and Banos.

According to Pearcy, Otavalo and San Clemente are small cities in the northern Andes that have a unique and rich agricultural and textile-based culture. Sharamentsa is a small village along the Pastaza River within the rain forest of eastern Ecuador.

The village is home to indigenous people called the Achuar, and there are currently about 6,000 Achuar spread among many small villages that live in the Amazon basin. The Achuar are separated from the modern world and preserve their traditional way of life. Banos is small city that sits in the foothills of the Tungurahua volcano, surrounded by many rivers and waterfalls.

Dean Jacobs, a 1986 alumnus of WSC, will also be joining the class on this trip.

“Dean has had a significant impact in making this trip a reality,” Pearcy said.

Jacobs travels the world, exploring and writing about his adventures on He has traveled to Ecuador many times and will be meeting the class in Quito to accompany the group for the rest of the trip.

Because this trip is part of a class, there will be numerous educational sessions and writing requirements expected throughout the extent of the students’ stay.

The Study Abroad class itself is five weeks long, but the class will be traveling in Ecuador for only two weeks. During the first two weeks of the course, the students will be learning about the history, biology, politics, culture, etc. of Ecuador so when they arrive, they are prepared. The final week of the course is for reflection and final papers to be submitted.

The class starts May 18 and the trip to Ecuador is from June 2-16.

The cost of the trip is about $4,000. This includes expenses for all travel, lodging and meals while in Ecuador.

“This trip is generously being supported in part by Jim and Barbara Kanter, and their support will reduce the individual cost to each of the students,” Pearcy said.

The trip to Ecuador is the first trip of its kind here at Wayne, but there are many more to come.

“This trip is a unique combination of Study Abroad and Service Learning, the first and only one so far at WSC, and probably one of only a handful in the United States,” Pearcy said. “Many institutions have study abroad trips and Service Learning projects, but seldom combine the two.

“We have been working for about three years to get the trip arranged, so we are excited to be offering it to WSC students.”