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Faculty/Staff Development in Ecuador

Faculty/Staff Professional Development Tour


August 2-12, 2015 

Have you always wanted to go abroad but have not had the chance? Do you  have a particular research or teaching interest in Ecuador or the Amazon? Are you interested in participating in an off-the-beaten-path experience? If so, consider applying for Longwood's professional development tour to Ecuador. See one of the most bio-diverse places on earth, learn about the debate surrounding drilling in the Amazon, interact with indigenous communities who rely on the jungle, learn how economic activities are impacting the environment and these communities and how nonprofit organizations help give them a voice in the political system. 

  • Explore another culture that is very different from your own.
  • Learning valuable information to bring back to your classroom or research.
  • Have an incredible learning adventure. 

Longwood's delegation will depart from Washington-Dulles airport. Note that departure date could be pushed back by 1 day depending on airline tickets.    

We will partner with SELVA, a Dutch NGO working toward protection of the Amazon jungle. SELVA’s activities include researching drilling and seismic activities, environmental testing, purchasing land in areas at high risk for deforestation, establishment of an Amazon water ambulance service, working with the indigenous tribes to protect their quality of life, and administration of medical clinics. SELVA initiates litigation that promotes protection of the Amazon. For example, they are heading to court to legislate the actions of a Chinese oil company that invaded their private land and cleared it to create a petroleum discharge storage pond. They have also been in court to try to stop the expansion of drilling in highly sensitive areas of the Amazon.

The learning objectives for this program include:

  1. Understanding Ecuador's economy and the reasons they might wish to expand drilling opportunities (and connect to short run vs. long run tradeoffs).
  2. Understanding the impact that drilling has on the natural environment and why it is a global concern.
  3. Understanding how drilling has impacted indigenous communities who live in the Amazon. 
  4. Understanding the legal issues related to drilling in the Amazon and how nature is addressed in the constitution.
  5. Understanding the political process used (or not used) to make decisions about drilling and learning how indigenous communities get a voice.
  6. Understanding how organizations such as SELVA represent nature in the political system and learning how they partner with indigenous communities to address challenges in those communities.

The itinerary is tentative but will include:

  • Tour of Quito (the capital) and visit to the equator.
  • Day long bus ride through rural areas on the way to the Amazon. We will see roads that have been built for the purpose of transporting oil and oil workers. We will also see oil and gas pipelines that run along side the roads for hundreds of miles (with interesting anti-Texaco graffiti). We will see areas that used to be Amazon but now have been cleared for oil exploration. We will also possibly see active oil spills (we have in the past). 
  • Visit to SELVA Reserve for Peace which is SELVA's base in the Amazon. There we will learn about sustainability projects including bamboo construction, reforestation, tagua nuts/vegetable ivory (used for jewelry, buttons, etc.), river ambulance program, etc.
  • Journey by boat into the Amazon. We will visit the Cofani and Siona communities. In the Cofani community we will hike to an enormous spirit tree, learning indigenous medicine practices from Aurelio, the Shaman, along the way. In the Siona community, we will tour the area, engage in a cooking project with tribe members, and we will meet with Delio, the Shama, who will tell us about the Siona way of life and the challenges they now face.
  • Tour of the Amazon jungle with Delio as our guide. We will see incredible biodiversity. In the past we have seen several species of monkey, anacondas, parrots, toucans, manatee, and the pink dolphins.  
  • Stop over in an Andean mountain community at a family-owned rustic lodge. 
  • Visit to Otovalo, an indigenous artisan community. There we will enjoy traditional foods and shopping.
  • Visit to Ilalo community in the mountains outside of Quito to see sustainable construction projects. 

Important Information

  • Priority goes to full-time teaching faculty with limited travel experience or whose research/teaching significantly connects to the destination and learning objectives. Second priority is other faculty and staff members who wish to learn more about Ecuador and the Amazon.
  • Staff members must discuss use of leave time with their supervisors.
  • To be eligible, participants must be returning to Longwood in fall 2015.
  • Participants will be required to attend meetings/lectures prior to departure. They will also deliver a lecture during the travel portion of the program. Upon return, participants will make presentations or design units for their own classrooms or for a Longwood audience. Participants are required to attend all pre-departure activities and to comply with the obligations of this program.
  • Cost to participants is approximately $900. (NOTE THAT THE TOTAL COST PER PERSON IS AROUND $2200.)
  • The first $300 is a nonrefundable deposit and is due upon acceptance into the program.
  • In addition, if a participant withdraws from the program, he or she is responsible for reimbursing the university for all unrecovered funds (nonrefundable airline tickets, deposits for SELVA tour, etc.).
  • Individual departments might choose to cover the costs for faculty/staff members. Please discuss financial arrangements with Melanie Marks.
  • Nonrefundable deposits ($300) are upon acceptance into the program. A payment of $350 will be due in December. The balance will be due in late January. (Contact Melanie if alternate payment schedules are needed.)


Before applying, here are some important things to ponder: 

  • Participants will be limited to a carry-on suitcase and small backpack (only). It is important that we travel lightly because we must travel by small boats into the Amazon.
  • Participants will spend a significant amount of time on a small boat (with lifejackets).
  • Participants will be on buses in mountainous areas. Individuals with significant motion sickness issues not controllable with medicine might not be well suited for this.
  • Participants should be able to complete mildly/moderately strenuous treks (2 hours) in somewhat warm climates.
  • Participants will be required to wear rubber boots for excursions in the Amazon (will purchase in Ecuador).
  • Participants will be visiting communities that do not have modern facilities--this means outhouse style toilets or no toilets at all.
  • There are no stores or medical facilities in the Amazon (but there are procedures for handling emergencies). People with high risk medical conditions might not be well suited for this program.
  • August can be rainy in the Amazon. We will have excursions in the rain (as long as conditions permit).
  • Lodges in the jungle are very simple. They do have modern bathrooms. But they also have frogs, bugs, etc. In the natural environment you could see snakes ,monkeys, tarantulas, etc. However, beds will have mosquito netting.  


Application Forms

  • Faculty Learning Tour Application (interactive .docx - If you try to open this form from the website, you may receive an error message. To avoid this, right click the link, click "Save Link As" and save the file as a .docx document on your computer before opening.)
  • Health Report Form (interactive .docx - If you try to open this form from the website, you may receive an error message. To avoid this, right click the link, click "Save Link As" and save the file as a .docx document on your computer before opening.)