Service is a time to learn and grow

Each Study Service Term culminates in six weeks of service engagement with local organizations throughout the host country (casually referred to as “Service”). After the initial six weeks of cultural and academic study, the shift in location and purpose opens the door for powerful new experiences.

On our first visit to Mindo, we planted some trees and now they are bearing fruit and attracting pollinators.

Students have been scattered throughout the Andes and Amazon to work in schools, local governments, churches, and nonprofits. The scope of the work is varied: one student might teach English while another plants trees or distributes aid packages to refugees. The nature of Service often means that students face new challenges each day. Flexibility, patience, graciousness, and a healthy dose of good humor are key to a student’s success no matter their endeavor.

While the work of Service is challenging, students are supported by their new host families who ensure that each student is fed, watered, educated, and entertained. Families and our partner organizations have embraced our SSTers, and in return each student has begun to integrate themselves into their new communities.


This week, we, SST leaders started visiting students, hearing their stories, learning about their lives while on Service. It is a true joy to hear about the progress, meet their families, and see them in action with our host organizations. We will continue touring Ecuador’s central region in the coming days and seeing our students.

If you need another reason to smile, look into those eyes. (This is Nina, a little puppy, living in an environmentally friendly farm in Mindo, where our students are helping repair ecosystems).

As we continue visiting students and families, we marvel at how thoughtful and serious our partnering organizations are about improving their communities.  Thanks to the institutional commitment, our students become fully engaged in the Service and in their personal growth.