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Students gather in Quilotoa, Ecuador.



How to Apply

Location: Quito, Ecuador

Dates: May 14th – June 24, 2017

Program Fee: $4,800 + Flight


Application Requirements:

  1. 2017 Ecuador Global Service Program Application

  2. Resumè

  3. Intermediate – Fluent Spanish Language Proficiency

Application Deadline:

November 15th, 2016


Financial Aid:


  1. Apply for the Nichols Humanitarian Fund

  2. Apply for *OACS Financial Assistance by submitting: 1) OACS Global-Projects Financial Aid 2017 and 2) a copy of your FAFSA

    *Please note that all students applying for financial assistance through OACS must also apply for aid through the Nichols Humanitarian Fund.

Financial Aid Application Deadlines:

November 15th, 2016


Introduction to the Program

Ecuador… a country overflowing with rich culture and a history that has shaped current day Quito into a vibrant city with diverse species, foods, communities, and perspectives. In this, one of seventeen megadiverse countries in the world, Vanderbilt students are immersed in Ecuadorian culture by working alongside indigenous and marginalized communities to better understand social and environmental injustices from a community-based service perspective. Through a close, longstanding partnership with the Yanapuma Foundation in Quito, the Ecuador Global Service Immersion project seeks to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes for the Vanderbilt student cohort, local partners, and the communities they serve. The program emphasizes the importance of human connectedness, integrated sustainable development, cultural sensitivity, and a humble and informed approach to international service.

Program Model

OACS Global OACS Service Programs challenge students to question their perspectives and roles in the shared human experience through pre-service curriculum, intensive service, post-service skills application, and continuous reflection. Founded upon contemporary service-learning theory, the programs are planned in order to best facilitate students’ abilities to connect meaningfully with people different from themselves through humble engagement and reciprocal dialogues within host communities. Through this exposure to firsthand knowledge and lived experiences, students will examine the deeper issues related to equity and justice and identify systematic barriers to equality and inclusivity. Students with a sincere desire to grapple with the complexity of human connectedness, to challenge their known values, and to reconcile academic knowledge with an authentic exploration of social and environmental injustices are encouraged to apply for an OACS Service Program.

Ecuador Highlights

Ecuador Program Highlights

Ecuador Pre-Service Immersion

  1. Connect with your cohort and participate in pre-trip service opportunities.
  2. Attend lectures by experts in service-learnng, international development, Ecuadorian history and social justice.
  3. Engage with pre-service curriculum that provides a foundational knowledge about the community you will be serving.

Ecuador Service Immersion

  1. Reflect on your service and develop critical thinking skills around systemic inequality and injustices.
  2. Immerse yourself, serving 25 or more hours alongside our community partners.
  3. Arrive in Quito, meet our community partners, and become oriented to the community, the culture and the service experience.

Ecuador Post-Service Immersion

  1. Return to Vanderbilt and serve our Nashville community by engaging in similar issue areas with local partners.
  2. Reunite and reflect on the transformative impact the service immersion has had on your perspective of global citizenship at the OACS Global Service Immersion Dinner.
  3. Using OACS resources, translate, your experience into the fabric of your everyday life, by developing plan of action that outlines your commitment to the global community.

Phase 1:  Spring Seminars

In the spring, students participate in a series of eight seminars designed to equip them with the tools to analyze and participate in global service through an informed and impact-oriented lens.  Seminars typically cover the following:

  1. An overview of politics, economics, and culture in Ecuador
  2. Training in language skills, cultural sensitivity, and cultural competence
  3. Critical dialogues about power and privilege
  4. Analysis of the intersection of sustainable international development, social justice and global citizenship
  5. Consideration of the ethical issues involved in engaging with communities through service in the Global South
  6. Reflection techniques and team-building skills


Phase 2:  Service-Learning in Ecuador

I.  NGO Placements

Student works on reforestation efforts with INEPE School.

The 6-week Ecuador Project focuses on student learning both through individual immersion and group reflection and support. By living in home-stay accommodations, students hone their Spanish skills and build relationships with their Ecuadorian families, experiencing this beautiful, dynamic culture firsthand. Outside support is provided by on-the-ground site leaders, who offer one-on-one mentoring and facilitate weekly reflection sessions for the entire cohort.

Over the course of six weeks, students serve in solidarity with Ecuadorian professionals at NGOs specially matched to their skills and interests in fields such as environmental education, community development, special education, and early childhood education. Through their work in these various social service and community development agencies, students learn about and reflect upon the importance of grassroots movements, social justice networks, and biodiversity in a global context.

NGO partners vary year to year depending on the organization’s need for volunteers, however, Vanderbilt students have regularly returned to work with the following organizations:

INEPE School promotes community development, particularly in the area of education, and are working to create better futures for their children. The INEPE school and daycare center offers a well-rounded education, and has an expansive music education program. The center even has a space for yoga and other exercise classes. The organization also works with affiliate daycare centers in the area. For more information visit their website.

Camp Hope is a school for disabled and underprivileged children, with 130 students, from kindergarten to grade 5. It provides vocational workshops for disabled teenagers, medical attention, rehabilitation, afterschool programs and recreational activities. The Foundation also provides accommodation in Casa Hogar for some disabled children. Currently a new project is in development to create a camp ground and workshop, at a different site.

Yachay Wasi is an intercultural and bilingual community educational center (Kichwa and Spanish), located in the central east side of Quito, Ecuador. Their educational objective, “Ishkay Yachay”, is based on the desire of surrounding indigenous communities to teach a combination of both modern and traditional knowledge.The mission of Yachay Wasi is to give students an intercultural and bilingual education with cultural pertinence and ecological justice to the Andes Mountains, with the purpose of re-invigorating the knowledge of the original people of this land in combination with contemporary, modern, knowledge of the people today; recuperating the respect of all forms of expression of human life, nature, and deities.

II.  Homestays

While in Quito, pairs of students live with Ecuadorian families in neighborhoods across the city. Though the cohort model is important in providing peer support, over the course of the program’s 6-week run students’ homestay placements are essential to cross-cultural exchange and immersion in order to build relationships and gain a deeper understanding of Ecuadorian culture and way of life. Living with families gives students’ the opportunity to forge strong bonds and with Ecuadorian parents and siblings as well as to develop language skills in Spanish.

III.  Reflection

Intentional and structured reflection in Ecuador is a vital part of investing fully in the global experiential-learning process. To this end, OACS follows the David Kolb Learning Cycle, which includes four processes that must take place for learning to occur:

  1. Concrete experience (feeling)
  2. Reflective observation (exploring)
  3. Abstract conceptualization (thinking)
  4. Active experimentation (acting)

As part of the Ecuador Global Service Program, we ask that students actively reflect as they pass through each stage in this cycle. Active reflection includes participation not only in the group sessions and one on one sessions, but also daily through personal introspection. We encourage students to share openly with their cohort, site leader, and reflection partner and to record their reflections in their OACS journal daily. Checking in frequently with thoughts and feelings adds dimension and depth to the students’ experiences and ultimately results in more personal growth and transformation through critical thinking.

IV.  Orientation and Language Training

At the beginning of the 6-week program, students participate in an orientation let by the Yanapuma Foundation to life in Quito with a particular focus on etiquette and protocol at their homestays.

In addition, students are given the opportunity to take a course in Spanish taught by specialist at the Yanapuma Spanish School.

V.  Weekend Learning & Enrichment Excursions

To deepen students’ understanding of Ecuador’s diverse cultural and environmental landscape, the cohort takes weekend enrichment excursions around the country, visiting rural NGOs and participating in lectures and service projects along with hands-on learning activities. Weekend excursions historically have included:

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The program includes visits to Quito, Teña, Cotopaxi, Quilotoa, Mindo, and Baños.

Phase 3:  Think Locally, Act Globally

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As part of a commitment to continued service and reflective learning post-trip, students are required to prepare a Global Capstone Project (GCP) for the Ecuador Global Service Program to be presented at the OACS Global Symposium in the fall following their summer of service. For the GCP, students are grouped with fellow cohort members by service site such that, through their service and group reflection, they contextualize the service experience, explore the root causes of the issues with which they worked at their sites, and create plans of action for local engagement.

To learn more from participants about the OACS Global Service Program in Ecuador, we encourage potential applicants to read the following:

Screen Shot 2016-10-01 at 8.51.52 AM*Click here or on the photo above for Ecuador student blogs.

Yanapuma Foundation

YanapumaTo help identify locally run organizations where student volunteers could be of use, OACS partners with Yanapuma Foundation, an Ecuadorian NGO based in Quito.

Yanapuma is guided by 6 principles – Sustainability, Social Justice, Respect, Freedom, Transparency, and Professionalism. The partnership between Yanapuma and OACS results in on the ground support for the Ecuador cohort and site leaders, including a project coordinator, orientation, and connections to home-stays and work sites.


For more information about the OACS Global Service Program in Ecuador contact Melissa Looby, the Program Leader, at

Additionally, Information Sessions for all OACS Global Service Programs will be held in the OACS Lounge in October and November. Students of all years interested in applying are encouraged to attend.

Information sessions for 2018 applicants will be posted in Fall 2017.

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Active Citizenship & Service
PMB 356308
2301 Vanderbilt Place
Nashville, TN 37235
(p): 615-343-7878

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