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Dean Jacobs '86 Leads Students to Ecuador

Published Friday, July 29th, 2016

Study abroad in Ecuador
Dean Jacobs '86 led 14 students and four WSC faculty and staff to Ecuador in June.

A group of Wildcats spent June learning about Ecuadorean culture and practicing service-learning in communities there.

Dean Jacobs ’86 led a group of 18 Wildcats to the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador from June 2-16 to learn about different cultures and geography while also practicing Service-Learning in Ecuadorean communities.

Fourteen students – two freshmen, four sophomores, two juniors and six seniors – along with four WSC faculty and staff traveled to Ecuador with Jacobs, including Dr. Shawn Pearcy (the leading professor and coordinator of the trip on campus), Lisa Nelson (director of the Service-Learning program), Dr. Deb Whitt and Jason Barelman.

“The intention for the trip was to provide Wayne State College students with an experience that will change their lives and the way they look at the world,” Jacobs said. “It has to be challenging and authentic, otherwise the opportunity to learn and grow is diminished.”

The group spent a few days in the village of San Clemente, a small indigenous community in the Northern Highlands of Ecuador. The inhabitants of San Clemente belong to the pre-Inca people who call themselves Quichuas Karanquis. The WSC group learned about their traditional ways of life, participated in a minga or community project, hiked a mountain and spent a morning at a local elementary school. 

The group then made their way to eastern Ecuador, with a brief stop at the equator. 

From Puyo, they flew deep into the Amazon Rainforest to visit the Achuar community of Sharamentsa. The visit with the Achuar included hikes in the jungle, service-learning projects with the school, a minga  and several fun activities such as playing soccer and volleyball in the mud. They learned about the traditional relationship the Achuar have with the rainforest and participated in some of their traditional customs.

“I was very pleased how our Wayne State College students responded to the challenges on this journey and the way they connected with these traditional cultures,” Jacobs said. “It made me proud to be from Wayne State College.”

The Ecuador trip was made possible in part by a generous donation from Jim and Barb ’76 Kanter.

What students said about the trip

“The biggest thing that I learned on this trip was that people of all ages and all different backgrounds can always find something in common. If we could find common ground with people who have been living in the jungle their whole lives, we can surely be able to find it with people in our own circles to help make our own communities better.” – Sydney Armstrong, Grand Island, Neb.

“I will never forget the incredible adventure I had in Ecuador. I experienced so many new things, activities, cultures and food, and I have met so many amazing people along the way. I never imagined all of the things I would see and do.” – Laura Brockelsby, Sioux City, Iowa

“As excited as I am to be back home and eating American food, I can't help but think back to all of the amazing memories that were made in the last two weeks with a great group of friends and the indigenous peoples who have a huge heart for their rainforest and the conservation of its natural beauty! All of them hold a very special place in my heart, and I will forever wish them the best.” – Chelsea Brinkman, Pender, Neb.

“This trip definitely widened my perspective on the world, and I am so glad I decided to go.” – Sadie Catlett, Central City, Neb.