Study Abroad

BIOL 346: The Resource Curse: Conservation and Economics in the Amazon

OMG. How lucky was I that I got to go Ecuador and the Amazon Rainforest?? I knew from the beginning that with honors requiring study aboard to fulfil the scholarship needs that I wanted to go somewhere I might never get the chance to go again. I didn’t want to waste my study abroad on London or Spain or any European trip that I could probably do on my own. No. I wanted an experience that only Longwood’s connections could offer me. And I was lucky enough to go to Ecuador, where I was able to visit the most biodiverse environment in the world!

Wildlife and conservation have always been important to me, and nothing gets me more upset like deforestation and extinction. And when you have an ecosystem like the Amazon Rainforest, where there are so many endemic plant and animals species that have no way of speaking up for themselves, you cant help but feel outraged. So much has been lost already to big oil companies that only care about profit. And poor Ecuador is a poor country piled under debt that’s only choice is to sell the land they have in hopes to be relived of some that burden. This trip was such an amazing experience, but it really did leave me feeling sad and a little hopeless. I mean so much has been done to try and stop the deforestation and pollution of the Amazon, and there is still so little support or public outrage over it. The indeciduous tribes are also being severely impacted, and yet they have almost no way to have their voice heard and no money to keep their land.

But asides from the negatives that unfortunately surrounded us, I was also met with some of the most breathtaking views of nature. From the densely packed forest that was so richly green, to the thick white clouds surrounding us in the Andes Mountains, to the hundreds of roaring waterfalls, there was just so much to take in and appreciate. I remember our last night in the Amazon Rainforest, where we had the privilege to stay with the indigenous Waorani tribe, where I just stared at the moon for probably an hour. It was just so surreal to me that this moon I was looking while surrounded by the Amazon, was the same moon I was so used to looking at back home. It almost didn’t make sense to me, but it really made me appreciate how old and amazing the Amazon Rainforest is. I think if more people had the chance to experience nature like that first hand, there would be a lot more people fighting for its right to live and thrive.

I am forever grateful that I was able to experience the people, the nature and the culture that Ecuador gave me and I can only hope to have the chance to return one day.

Click Below for some pictures throughout the trip!

Waorani Traditional Face Paint (Summer 2022)

Visiting the Equator (Summer 2022)

White River Rafting (Summer 2022)

The Beautiful Amazon Rainforest (Summer 2022)