Week three of Spring 2020 Ecuador SST thrust students into the biodiversity that is Ecuador and all the complexity that comes with it. One of the neat elements of SST is there is so much learning that takes place outside of a traditional classroom environment. This week our lecture on climate change was delivered in the middle of the cloud forest reforestation project that seeks to mitigate the effects of climate change.
One of the shocking elements of Ecuador’s geography is how rapidly you can move from one environment to the next. To reach the edge of the cloud forest we traveled a mere 30 miles (50k) northwest of Quito. During our brief two-day trip outside of the city we left Andean highlands at 10,000 feet, passed through a desert-like region north of the city and rounded the bend in mountains to find ourselves immersed in green and peering through the mists of the highland rain forests of the western Andean slopes. Students helped plant trees in the reforestation project, got up close and personal with the creepy crawling things in the rainforest, and experienced the laid-back rural beauty of the small town of Mindo.
As students try to digest the surreal atmosphere of constant newness, we work together to process who they are and who they strive to be as individuals in this big, complex world that we call home. We seek to peer through the mists that shroud our inner thoughts to discover and embrace all the beauty and complexity that we are as individuals.