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Reflecting on the Rainforest

Wednesday, 11 September 2013 02:53

Back in May of this year Original Ecuador welcomed a group of Animal Care students to Ecuador from Deeside College in North Wales, UK.

Lecturer Sarah Cocks, the driving force behind this special educational trip, explains a little more about the importance of this once-in-a-lifetime experience for her students.

What is the main aim of this educational trip to Ecuador for you?

The trip has many aims really. Many of the students have not travelled outside of Europe before and so experiencing the different cultures in Ecuador is a real eye-opening experience for them, especially when visiting the schools and communities. Giving the students the opportunity to see and understand how other people live and how different life in Ecuador is compared to Western culture is a very important part of the trip.

Visiting the cloud forest and rainforest enables the students to see native wildlife in its natural habitat, wildlife that we would keep in captivity in the UK. It is fantastic that they get to really immerse themselves in those habitats. They also get to see firsthand how some areas are being exploited and destroyed.

What sort of workshops do you undertake with the students whilst on the trip?

We do a few workshops whilst we're on the trip, in an informal and relaxed way. At the start of the trip we have a discussion about what the students hope to gain from the experience and what they're looking forward to. Towards the end of the trip we ask them to think more deeply about how the trip has had an impact on them.

As a final challenge we ask them to write down on a postcard one thing that they pledge to change on returning home.... I then send these postcards out to them about 6-8 weeks after we get home to make them reflect on whether or not they have achieved their pledge.

What have been the highlights of this year’s trip for you and the students?

Wow, highlights - too many to mention!! Maquipucuna Lodge was amazing of course - so chilled out, amazing scenery and wonderful food. The walking was great and the visit to the school this year was even better than last year.

Sani Lodge was also brilliant - I think camping in the rainforest gave everyone a bit more of an "experience" and we all bonded over damp beds & shared facilities!

The wildlife in both places was brilliant - we saw a huge range of species across all taxa - a particular highlight was the red howler monkeys calling to each other - a noise like nothing I've ever heard before! Piranha fishing was fab too and you know me - I love all the bugs and little beasties!

We all loved Hacienda Pinsaqui as well - it is such a beautiful place with incredible rooms and decor. The band were fabulous and the evening meal delicious - best steak ever!! Horse riding in the Andes was a highlight for those that went.

Any final thoughts?

It would be good to mention how well organised the trip was . Cafe Cultura is also an excellent base and a home from home to come back to in Quito.

Some quotes from the students:

"The biggest impact on me was seeing how we differ from the people in Ecuador and realising I shouldn't take things for granted."

"I have made loads of new friends and become much more confident."

"The biggest impact was seeing how little the schools have but how the kids are still so happy."

"The whole trip has had a massive impact on me and made me want to travel to new places."

"..seeing how beautiful different places are has made me want to explore the world and never take my life for granted."

This special educational trip was organized by Original Ecuador in conjunction with Plan-it Eco in the UK. The tour program included visits to both the rainforest and cloud forest of Ecuador as well as the Andean Highlands.

As well as exploring the natural habitats of Ecuador, a big focus is placed on sharing with local people and communities. If you are interested in an educational trip to Ecuador please contact us for more details.

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