Curaçao and Ecuador
At Unity College, our goal is to give students all the possible experiences that they need to succeed. One of these experiences is studying abroad. This can take shape in a variety of forms, including May Term classes. In the spring of 2018, Unity College classes spent time in Curacao and Ecuador.
Tropical Marine Ecology Curacao and Digital Media Production Curacao
Professors Dr. Emma Perry and Deanna Witman took a group of students to Willemstad, Curacao to study the Tropical Marine Biology of Curacao and Digital Media Production. They studied everything regarding the marine culture of Curacao, including visiting aquariums and museums, snorkeling with sea turtles and other marine animals, studying the coral reefs, and identifying various plants and animals.
“This evening our team embarked on a special adventure: twilight snorkeling! Thanks to Curacao Seaquarium employees Alex and Rachel, we enjoyed a guided tour around a sunken tugboat as the sun set on the horizon. Armed with flashlights and cameras, we swam about 120 meters out from the beach. Along the way, we watched the marine nightlife unfold,” said Michelle Neal, one of the students on the trip.
While studying the marine ecology, students were also photographing and filming the natural landscape, both underwater and above. Once returning to the United States, they used their digital footage to create a short documentary highlighting their trip. It was a spectacular way to earn six Unity College credits.
Learn more about the Tropical Biology of Curacao and the Digital Media Project – Curacao by visiting their blog at https://ucme.wordpress.com/
Sustainable Ecotourism / Ecosystems of Ecuador
While one group was in Curacao, another group of Unity College students was studying Sustainable Ecotourism/Ecosystems of Ecuador, led by professor Tom Mullin and adjunct professor Zach Smith. The group arrived in Quito, Ecuador, for a day of acclimation and exploring.
The class next ventured into the Ecuadorian Rainforest for nearly a week. Accompanying them was Dr. Giovanni Onore, Director of the Otonga Foundation and a tremendous international resource. While on their travels the group had a chance to visit a Frog Research Center, the Otonga Preserve, a botanical garden, an arboretum, and spend time in the rainforest. They literally saw thousands of plants, animals, and insects during the week.
“I woke up this morning about 5:30 AM to watch and take pictures of the wildlife in front of the dining hall. I saw toucanettes, cattle egrets, hummingbirds, wasp, ants, butterflies, finches, sparrows, warblers, etc. So many different birds and butterflies, it was almost impossible to identify! I have never seen such diversity in the 18 countries I have been to,” said Zach Smith. He went on to say, “We left the botanicals and headed into the jungle where we saw the most poisonous tree and caterpillar amongst hundreds of different tree, plants, insects, seeds, etc. and we only walked about 2 kilometers!”
The Unity College group also spend part of a day traveling to visit with an indigenous tribe known as the Tsachila people. They put their interpretation background to good use, saying that it had TORE: thematic, organized, relevant and engaging – a concept from Sam Ham’s book Making a Difference on Purpose.
As the group returned to Quito, they turned to the other aspect of their course, which focused on Sustainable Ecotourism. Students were able to take the gondola up to the top of a local mountain for some panoramic views of Quito, the Andes, the volcanoes, and the valley. They were also able to get first-hand experience eating the food, trying to pick up bits of the language, dress, and local traditions of Ecuador.
You can learn more about their trip to Ecuador and see photos by visiting their blog: https://unityecuadortrip.blogspot.com/