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July 4 to 15, 2018

This trip to the lush interior of Esmeraldas Province is an adventure like no other. You will find yourself entering a culture isolated from the rest of the world for most of its history. Because of its seclusion, the settlement of Santo Domingo on the banks of the Onzole River has created a singular, thriving community based on longstanding traditions handed down undiluted. Legend says that the original settlers were escaped African slaves. They banded together in prior centuries and lived in secrecy for generations.

Cost — $850 plus airfare

Included —

  • in-country group travel
  • overnight accommodations
  • at least two meals each day
  • trip organizer
  • group interpreter

Grant Opportunity — Grants of up to $100 are available to current and retired school staff and university faculty who are paying full cost out of pocket. In order to be eligible, you must complete the following requirements:

Wednesday, July 4 — Arrival in Guayaquil

You will fly into Guayaquil, Ecuador, and catch a taxi at the airport to get to your lodgings. The well-rated Hostel Nucapacha offers a pool and delicious complimentary breakfast. If time permits, you might explore some of the nearby neighborhood with your new team members.

Thursday, July 5 —  Guayaquil and Travel to Santo Domingo

Today you and the team will tour Ecuador’s largest and most populous city.  From Las Peñas to Iguana Park, you’ll sample a bit of everything this fascinating city has to offer. Your day will allow you to experience the week with a deeper understanding of the wonderful people you will meet. After your tour, you’ll take a 10-hour bus ride north through the night to the outpost of either Anchayacu or Lagarto.

Friday, July 6 — Santo Domingo

After arriving at the Onzole River, you will take a short break before embarking on a two- or three-hour, motorized canoe ride upstream. You will have some time to settle in at the dorm-style guesthouse, explore the village, and meet your hosts. In the evening, the team will gather for an orientation to the week ahead, including team building and reflection exercises.

Saturday, July 7 — Santo Domingo

Experiencing a day in the life of a Santo Domingo resident will be the entire agenda. You will be matched up with a local family who will show you how to eat, work, and live just as they do. This location’s rich culture could take years to experience fully, so this will be a busy day!

Sunday, July 8 — Santo Domingo

Because today is Sunday, you will have the option of joining the community in their church worship service. Afterwards, there will be a variety of other cultural activities to enjoy.

Monday, July 9 — Santo Domingo

During the morning, you will have the opportunity to observe your partner and her/his classroom. Next will be either partner support meetings or professional development workshops centered on the week’s theme. Workshop leaders will have a lot of autonomy to plan the specifics of their sessions.

At some time in the afternoon, you will pair up with your partner for a feedback session based on that morning’s classes. This is a time for you to provide suggestions and recommendations for next day’s class.

Tuesday, July 10 — Santo Domingo

In the morning, while you observe, your partner will teach using the feedback and support you provided on Monday. The afternoon will be a professional development workshop for the entire group. Through modeling, teachers will be introduced to the approach of connecting science and math to everyday  life. Pairs will develop lessons for the next day using strategies presented in the workshops.

Wednesday, July 11 — Santo Domingo

With assistance from your partner, you will model the lesson that you two developed together the previous day. During the afternoon, discussions will focus on reviewing the day’s lessons, including the hands-on activities used with students. You and your partner will have an hour to plan for co-teaching tomorrow. The team will meet during the evening to share experiences and reflect on classroom goals.

Thursday, July 12 — Santo Domingo

Today presents an opportunity for co-teaching. You will support your partner as she or he implements the lesson you two planned. This is a good time to try out a new activity together. Afterwards, another professional development session will follow.

Friday, July 13 — Santo Domingo

Today presents another opportunity to co-teach or experiment with a new activity, with a focus on student participation. Your one-on-one meeting with your partner teacher will give the both of you a chance to discuss how it went and any tweaks to be made. Afterwards, the whole group together will review the entire week. A closure ceremony will recognize the growth that has taken place.

Saturday, July 14 — Travel to Guayaquil

You’ll want to wake up early today for the journey back to Guayaquil. The team will retrace its steps back downriver and onto a bus.

Sunday, July 15 — Departure

Time to say goodbye for now. Your flight back to the U.S. will give you plenty of time to reflect on your adventure and plan for your next visit to this wonderful place.

Our partner on this trip is the Onzole River Project. This NGO serves Afro-Ecuadorian communities along the Onzole River through culturally relevant education and empowerment. The local school in Santo Domingo is named after Gaston Figueira, who was a writer and poet in Uruguay during the early 20th century. He visited the northwest part of Ecuador at the invitation of an Ecuadorian priest. The founders of the school named it after this renowned author to honor his visit.

The language spoken in school and in the community is Spanish.