Week 3 – Sustainable Development Study Abroad Program 2018

For the final week of the University of Oregon Sustainable Development Study Abroad Program the students completed their Ecuador experiences with a visit to the Bahía de Caráquez MunicipalityLos Algarrobos School in Canoa, the Planet Drum greenhouse, and two days in the beautiful mountain town of Mindo.
At the Bahía de Caráquez Municipality, we met with long-time friend of Planet Drum Foundation and current vice-Mayor Iván Aguirre and members of the city planning department to discuss earthquake recovery, city development plans, and ecological projects. In the city planning department we were shown a variety of video simulations showing projected plans for a new boardwalk and various city parks.

Reviewing plans with city architects and the Bahía vice-Mayor Iván Aguirre (far left) at the Bahía Municipality.

The visit to Los Algarrobos School in Canoa included a variety of activities at the school and in the community. At the school, we assisted in building a stage area out of bamboo, dirt, and sand; we helped groups of students work on the garden projects around the school, which included watering and planting plants that the students brought from home; and we transplanted trees that the students planted in the elevated seedbeds installed by Planet Drum. Students had collected seeds of various native fruit trees and we had previously helped them plant them in the elevated beds. Now the seeds had germinated and were ready for transplanting. Students had been instructed to bring used plastic bottles to school. We helped them fill the bottles with dirt from our greenhouse and transplanted approximately 50 trees from the seedbeds into bottles. Students were then able to take their trees home.

Rachel, Los Algarrobos School teacher and administrator, looks at all of the seedlings in the elevated seedbed with students from 5th grade.
After the seedlings are transplanted out of the seedbed, the soil is turned for the next round of planting!
During recess the University students play soccer with students at Los Algarrobos School.
University of Oregon students work with children at Los Algarrobos School to move soil for the construction of an outdoor stage.
Moriah, the professor for the group, helps students with their garden project at Los Algarrobos School in Canoa.
Megan transplants Mandarina seedlings with a student at Los Algarrobos school.

After working with the students at the school, we went into town and at a community park we dug holes and planted 2 dozen native fruit trees. Thanks to Rachel from Los Algarrobos for helping to coordinate the community planting event!

Eva and Megan planting a tree.
The Planet Drum crew, study abroad students, and locals from Canoa prepare a town communal area for planting fruit trees.
Omar breaks through rubble in the ground to make a hole for planting a tree.

The final visit to the Planet Drum greenhouse consisted of machete lessons, a bamboo construction class, and the opportunity for each student to plant a tree in the ground near the greenhouse. While learning proper machete technique, the students helped clear brush near the greenhouse. Meanwhile, others learned how to make a bamboo ramada (shade structure) with a thatch roof, which will provide crucial dry storage space at the greenhouse during the rainy season. After finishing those projects, each student planted one tree around the greenhouse.

The group of University of Oregon students pose with Clay (back row on the left), Orlando (front row on the left), and Laura (middle row on the left) at the Planet Drum greenhouse.
University of Oregon students work on their machete skills by clearing brush near the Planet Drum greenhouse.
Omar tries his hand at macheteing.
Bri, Page, and Thomas hold a piece of bamboo steady while Miranda cuts off a piece.
University of Oregon students secure bamboo posts in the ground that will support the thatch roof.
Oman and Ben splitting bamboo into pieces for the roof of the ramada.
Ethan and Eva hold bamboo pieces while Grant nails them into place.
Tree planting at the Planet Drum greenhouse.

That evening we celebrated the culmination of the program in Bahía with a large dinner where we invited some of the community members who worked with us during the previous three weeks to join us. Orlando, Laura, an Ecuadorian volunteer, Cristian, the fisherman, and his wife joined us, as did Marcelo Luque and Mikaela from Cerro Seco. It was quite the feast, and everyone had a great time. Afterwards, we made a bonfire on the beach.

Farewell feast with local community members at the University of Oregon group at the Planet Drum house.

The following morning everyone packed up their belongings to take off for Mindo for two days on the way back to Quito and the end of the program. Mindo provided a beautiful setting for a reflective class and eco-tourism activities, such as a waterfall hike, zip-lining, and a chocolate-making tour. After two nights in Mindo, the group transferred back to Quito and students either caught flights home or continued traveling on their own.

View of the mountainsides around Mindo.
Swimming in waterfalls near Mindo.
Going for a cable car ride.
Ethan zip-lining.
Edith zip-lining.

A big thank you to all the participants for a great time and another successful study abroad program with Planet Drum in Ecuador!Photos by Clay Plager-Unger.

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