Students return to Ecuador for Winter break Reply

The 2012 “Shoulder-to-Shoulder” group, learns to farm in a sustainable way. Photo Courtesy of the Center for Community-Based Learning

Caitlin Fitzgerald1851 Staff

While most Lasell students will re­lax at home during winter break, 11 will travel to Ecuador for one week – but not for a vacation. Instead these students are donating their time to help out the Ecua­dorian community. They will represent Lasell and the “Shoulder-to-Shoulder” pro­gram by working with community experts to help improve the environment. Leading them will be Aaron Toffler, a professor of environmental studies and co-leader Amy Greene, assistant director of the Center for Community-Based Learning.

“Shoulder to Shoulder” is a program developed by professors who have led ser­vice-learning trips to Mexico for the past 10 years. Since 2002, trips have expanded to locations such as Ecuador, Uganda, Nica­ragua, and Brazil. Each trip is scheduled at a different time between January and May and coordinates with school breaks.

The students get real world experi­ence by working alongside community ex­perts and helping prominent problems in the various locations. Students will also be immersed in the culture and learn about social issues in a global context.

Each trip has a different focus to meet the needs of the specific community such as poverty, inadequate housing, Eco-tourism, sustainable agriculture, and domestic vio­lence. All trips aim to fulfill and maintain the “Shoulder-to-Shoulder” mission of working closely with community members.

“I wanted to explore more about South America’s sustainability,” said senior Ginna Giraldo, who will attend the trip this year and is also a native of Columbia. “I think it’s amaz­ing because you just go there and discover Mother Nature. It brings you back to reality.”

On the day of departure, students ar­rive in the historical district of Quito, the capital of Ecuador. They stay there for the night and drive to a rural community the next morning, two hours outside of Quito. Students then work at a school and an operational hacienda or plantation. They spend their trip exploring the natural envi­ronment and meeting local people.

“We hope that each student will be­come immersed in the culture and envi­ronment of the country through the ser­vice we complete,” Greene said.

A common application must be com­pleted and a student must choose their preferred “Shoulder-to-Shoulder” desti­nation in order to attend the trip. If a stu­dent is selected, they must take a course the semester before the trip to prepare for the experience.

“We are searching for students who would like to see the world, love service, are open to new experiences, and are hard workers,” said Greene.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s