|Why Volunteer in Ecuador?
Nowhere in the Americas can you find a concentration of cultural and ecological diversity
to rival that of Ecuador’s.
This diversity was the setting for the fluorescence of some of the hemisphere’s most
advanced early civilizations. These indigenous cultures were greatly damaged --but not
destroyed-- by the disease, violence, and lust for gold and silver that accompanied the
Spanish Conquest. Later, U.S. economic and military policy took its toll on the political
autonomy and human rights of average Ecuadorians. The post-Columbian experience of
Ecuador and the Andean region has largely been a byproduct of two clashing
philosophical and cultural systems resulting from the physical and economic colonization of
Today --more than 500 years after the initial colonization-- Ecuador is a fascinating
country steeped in political transformation, incredible cultural diversity, popular social
change movements, and highly organized ecological and economic justice activism. The
economic crisis that spurred the government’s decision to dollarize the economy in 2000,
also sparked the rise to power of Pachakutik, the world’s most successful Indigenous-
based political party, and a national re-examination of state power and agricultural policy.
Social movements in Ecuador are at the global forefront of grassroots political organization
and egalitarian land reform.
These projects provides volunteers with the opportunity to learn about land use issues
and the incredible social dynamism of Ecuador through Service Learning work, community
home stays, and talks with political activists, politicians, economists, students, campesino
and indigenous organizations, and the rural agrarian people that are the backbone of
Ecuadorian and global society.