Ecuador has stolen a piece of my heart. Leaving the country was hard to say the least, mostly because I don’t know when I’ll be able to go back. The trip (even though only nine days) was packed with sights, adventure, and educational opportunities. The trip had a mixture of students on it. There were marketing students and a variety of science majors from both the University of Pittsburgh and Florida International University. Having an eclectic crowd, especially those outside of my major, pushed me to view my surroundings from a different perspective.
Parts of the program further encouraged this as well, as we had assignments and lectures that focused on ecology. As a business student it’s very rare to learn about animal species, forest biomes, climate, etc. Truth be told, it was refreshing. Not only did I get to learn about the scientific side of the amazon, but I also had the opportunity to delve into the local culture. Indigenous Ecuadorian’s view the Earth differently. Some see it as a source of energy, which leads to them speaking to it, and their family, through it. For example, one of the activities that we had the chance to partake in was making authentic clay bowls. Before we began, we followed two women to a nearby trench where they pulled clay out of the ground. As they did this, they spoke to the “clay mother” letting her know that they were not going to waste the material and that they would treat it with respect. That was only one example of the dozen traditions that we were able to learn about. The hands on experiences left me with a newfound respect for the world.
Ecuador also woke my wanderlust, making me want to see everything that the world has to offer. Part of this revelation was due to the nature that we saw. One sight in particular, the cloud forest, left me in awe (pictured above). As we walked through the forest, we were met with an almost eerie clam. The clouds rolled through at all levels, so we could see them below us and at eye-level. It was a sight that cannot compare to anything else I’ve seen. Cloud forest, was only one of many outings that we ventured on.
Overall, I left the country changed. I learned of biodiversity, local marketing strategies, production of chocolate and bowls, and so much more. Seeing the different stages in an economy so different from our own, left a huge impression that I will utilize in my career going forward. As this is my last post, I just want to thank the professors, Pitt Business, and donors for putting together a program in such an underrated place. It was a phenomenal trip that definitely made a lasting impact.