Bahía de Caráquez, Ecuador
In the heart of this coastal city, work alongside local students in Bahia’s varied garden clubs, visit and learn from local alternative farms, and engage with student-driven projects throughout the unique ecosystems and communities. Enjoy fun evenings sunset swimming and camping at the beach, make lasting friendships within and across cultures, and adventure through the rich natural resources Ecuador offers.
These programs give students the tools, skills, knowledge and confidence to think critically about how we interact with our natural environment, and to act proactively to make positive and tangible change, in however that may be defined for their specific community. Read on to learn about the ideas and changes that are happening in our Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador chapter.
Partner Education Programs
Unidad Educativa Fanny de Baird
The public high school Fanny de Baird is GSE’s first project location in South America which began in 2008. GSE has continued to work with students to develop, construct and maintain a school garden and greenhouse to produce endemic trees from the tropical dry forest, that are used to for the program’s reforestation efforts. GSE works with 25 student volunteers twice weekly to maintain the principal projects of organic gardening and tree production, as well as to manage their “green areas” on campus, and their compost system among other projects, campaigns and events.
Unidad Educativa Diana Esther Guerrero Vargas
GSE introduced our environmental education program in 2015 to this public high school. Working with 15 volunteers weekly, the students continue to develop, construct and maintain a greenhouse for tropical dry forest tree production, which they have used to reforest an empty lot alongside the school that remained following the 2016 earthquake to create a safe and cool greenspace for students to gather. Students also work in smaller projects such as trash collection to keep the area near to the highway clean, and the creation of bamboo benches for the club.
Escuela de Educación Básica Sathya Sai
In 2017 GSE began to work with Sathya Sai, an elementary and middle school with a curriculum based in environmentalism and humanities. At Sathya Sai, GSE has worked with international and local volunteers to construct a greenhouse, and to plant and maintain other green spaces around the school, such as medicinal gardens. We currently work with 23 students ages of primary school age, supporting the schools curriculum by planting both endemic tropical dry forest and fruit trees for their greenhouse.
Partner Community Projects
Students will spend a portion of their work hours volunteering in our Community Projects. Following the earthquake of 2016, many communities were heavily impacted, causing families to lose homes and belongings. Following a local GSE student’s request address this loss in their own community, GSE began to work in various neighborhoods of need to plant trees, paint murals, and create other ecological and artistic projects alongside community members to reintroduce purpose and place to these areas. Since then, GSE has worked with local and exchange students in two governmentally contracted housing projects, two local neighborhoods, and a local pre-school center to follow this mission.
Partner Community Sites
Rancho Mila is a local organic ranch that practices principles of permaculture and agroecology. Students are given the hands-on opportunity participate in alternative agricultural methods, with facilitated discussions about the environmental and social impacts of global agricultural relationships.
Saiananda is a local hotel and botanical garden that provides a space for students to explore many native and non-native plant and animal species, such as starfruit, sangre de drago trees, iguanas, peacocks, and the famous Galapagos tortoise Miguelito (who is over 120 years old!).
Isla Corazon Wildlife Refuge
This mangrove island is located in the estuary of the Rio Chone, providing a uniquely biodiverse ecosystem of frigate birds, shrimp, crabs, and egrets, amongst others. On guided boat tours, students explore the island’s wildlife and learn about the ecological, economic and cultural importance of the mangrove ecosystem.
Cielo del Pacifico
Cielo del Pacifico is a beautiful beachside campsite on the quiet coast where students have a chance to connect with nature and each other on deeper level. Here, students will learn camping skills, engage in a beach clean up and waste workshop, and spend the remainder of the time enjoying the warm ocean waters alongside some of the eco-club students.
Finca Sloth is a familial farm located in the humid tropical forest that practices traditional permaculture and specializes in the production of organic cocoa and coffee. Here, students will enjoy new varieties of exotic fruit, hand-make crafts from local plants, learn how to make chocolate, and enjoy the incredible wildlife of wild toucans, iguanas, and, yes, sloths.
Puerto Lopez is home to the best preserved biodiversity of the tropical dry forest region. Students will have an opportunity to visit project run by the indigenous community within the Machilla National Park, as well as a local Marin Animal Rescue Center. Students will relax on the beach, eat ice-cream and reflect upon their experience before returning home.