Wisdom of the Andes


With the co-sponsorship of LACC, SIPA and the Honors College, students┬ácan experience the rich and expressive culture of indigenous Ecuador this summer, July 28 to August 6. Participants will earn three credits (six credits for Honor College students) in diverse courses such as “Native Religions of Central and South America” and “Environmental Studies/Earth Ethics.”

By Sissi Aguila

Exploring the highlands of Ecuador, visiting four different ecosystems and learning about indigenous people are a few of the experiences students can expect this summer during “Wisdom of the Andes: Ritual, Religion, and Shamanism in Ecuador,” a study abroad program hosted by the Latin American and Caribbean Center (LACC), the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) and FIU’s Honors College, July 28 to August 6.

“Wisdom of the Andes,” an interdisciplinary program, will immerse participants in various aspects of Ecuador’s Native American culture including archaeology, art, dance, earth ethics, history, music, religion, and shamanism. During their trip, students will participate in lectures, seminars and excursions to historical and cultural sites. They will also perform community services in the surrounding communities.

“The real importance of this program is that it goes beyond Ecuador and visiting Latin America,” said Andrea Mantell-Seidel, an associate professor in LACC and the Department of Dance. “It introduces the study of a holistic knowledge system that provides a model for looking at the world in an interconnected way. Native Americans call this the ‘web of life.'”

Participants do not need to be admitted to FIU, but they must enroll in a three-credit course (six credits for Honor College students) through FIU’s Office of Study Abroad. Independent study and coursework will begin prior to the trip and continue when students return throughout summer B.

The courses offered are “Native Religions of Central and South America”; “Environmental Studies and Earth Ethics”; “Aesthetics, Values and Authority”; “Looking to the Future”; and “Latin American Studies.”

“Beyond the study abroad program, these classes are wonderful additions to the [Religious Studies] curriculum and to interdisciplinary courses in the general curriculum,” said Christine Gudorf, chair of the Religious Studies Department.

The classes will be co-taught by Mantell-Seidel, who brings her experience and perspective from the Department of Dance, Religious Studies and LACC, and Mary Lou Pfeiffer, who is a professor in the Honors College.

Once in Ecuador, students will stay in co-ed dormitories at San Jorge Eco Lodge and Botanical Reserve, an 18th century farm situated on 200 acres of protected land in the Pichincha Foothills. San Jorge is home to a large variety of endemic plants and animals (including more than 130 species of birds), several pre-Inca trails and sacred waterfalls.

The estimated cost for the trip is $2,029.92 and includes accommodations, meals, excursions and transportation. This cost does not include airfare, FIU instructional fees, and the $175 study abroad, non-refundable fee which includes mandatory health insurance. A 10 percent deposit is due on May 28; the balance is due by June 28.

A limited number of scholarships are available to FIU students. The deadline is April 15.For more information, contact Mantell-Seidel at 305-348-2894 or seidela@fiu.edu.

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