During this high school summer abroad program in Ecuador, explore the country’s various geographical areas: the Andes Mountains, the upper Amazon basin, and the Galápagos archipelago. In each location, you will learn about the richness of Ecuador’s ecology and wildlife and the importance of preserving them. Investigate rare plant and animal species on the Galápagos Islands. Go on excursions to mountains, hot springs, and a primary forest. Paddle into the heart of the jungle on a guided canoe expedition and learn about indigenous Ecuadorian traditions.
Your discovery of Ecuador’s ecology takes place throughout every stage of the program. On your first excursion, you will see the rivers and diverse wildlife of the Mindo Nambillo cloud forest. In the Amazon basin, you will see the stunning waterfalls of the Banos and observe monkeys and exotic birds as you canoe down the Napo River. During your homestay week, hike up from the first base camp to the second shelter (16,400 feet above sea level) of Chimborazo, an inactive volcano that reaches 20,800 feet above sea level, and then bike down through a beautiful Andean landscape. The program’s four days in the Galápagos will give you the opportunity to learn about the fragile ecology and unique biodiversity of these remarkable islands. Cruise by night from island to island, swim alongside seals in lava grottoes, explore mangrove forests and flamingo lagoons, and observe the courtship displays of rare tropical birds.
You’ll also experience Ecuadorian cities and learn about the country’s history and cultures. See the gold-inlaid sixteenth-century churches and colonial buildings of Quito’s Old Town. Ride a train to Devil’s Nose. Improve your Spanish language skills through interactive lessons and conversations with local residents. Riobamba, a small city surrounded by the snow-capped Andes, provides the setting for a weeklong homestay. Share daily activities such as sports, movies, and walks through town with your host family. Learn how to prepare a typical dish such as ceviche or empanadas and, working alongside a local nonprofit, participate in a three-day community service project.
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Spend a summer abroad experiencing different marine environments and regional cultures as you travel from the coastal city of La Paz — situated between desert mountains and the Gulf of California — to the Yucatán Peninsula on this program for high school students. Meet with marine biologists, researchers, and guides in La Paz. Learn about the history of human and animal habitation in the peninsula. Snorkel among coral reefs, observing sea lions in their natural habitats, on the beautiful island of Espíritu Santo, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. During this period, you live with a Mexican family, which opens up amazing windows into Mexican culture. Take advantage of continuous opportunities for Spanish language study while experiencing the region’s incredible natural environments and regional culture with host family members.
As the program moves to the Yucatán in southeastern Mexico — from desert to jungle — you experience a completely different natural environment. Learn about pearl farming on the island of Cozumel and witness ongoing ecosystem restoration efforts through the installation of artificial reefs. Take a late-night beach walk to watch giant sea turtles laying eggs on the sand. Travel to Akumal beach for a guided snorkel excursion with sea turtles and manta rays. Witness the region’s strong Maya cultural influence, and visit the Maya archaeological ruins at Coba or Tulum.
The program begins and ends in Mexico City, giving you time to deepen your knowledge of Mexico’s culture, history, and food from the vantage point of the country’s expansive capital city. Visit the Zócalo, Catedral Metropolitana de la Asunción de María, or Frida Kahlo Museum, or take a walking tour of the old city.
Orientation: Mexico City, 3–4 days
Homestay: La Paz, 11–12 days
Other Accommodations: Hotels, eco-lodge, ranch
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Travel from Paris to a French border community and then to a neighboring country as you explore regional cultures and identities. This high school summer abroad program commences with an immersive introduction to French history and culture in Paris. Visit famous sites and museums — such as the Champs-Elysées, Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, or Louvre — throughout the city. Explore diverse neighborhoods, navigate the metro, and sample French cuisine in street-side cafés as you deepen your understanding of Parisian culture and the city’s role within France.
Following orientation, travel with your group to a community in southern France near the Italian border or, alternatively, to a French community near the German border. Become fully immersed in the daily life of a French family during a twelve-day homestay. Take advantage of the opportunity — afforded by the homestay — to study French and to gain a unique glimpse into French life and culture.
After saying goodbye to your host family, cross the French border with your group into either Italy or Germany to explore the landscapes and culture of a French neighbor. Whether you’re strolling through picturesque villages in Alsace, exploring the French Riviera, or visiting beautiful Cinque Terre on the Mediterranean, you gain deeper insight into the diversity of France and the culture of an adjacent country.
Orientation: Paris, 2–4 days
Homestay: Saint-Raphaël or Nice (near the Italian border) or Saint-Dié-des-Vosges or Nancy (near the German Border), 11–12 days
Other Accommodations: Hotels