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Spanish Language & Service Learning Ecuador

Fast Facts

Sessions Offered:



Cuenca, Ecuador




2.5 GPA, sophomore standing by summer, 2 semesters college-level Spanish.

Application Due:


Program Cost:

Click the Application tab.

This program is currently inactive. Contact for further information.

This seven week program in Cuenca, Ecuador provides a unique opportunity for immersion in the Spanish language and Ecuadorian culture via homestays with local families, coursework in Spanish and service projects with a local community. This program works with CEDEI, the Center for Interamerican Studies in Cuenca. The on-site Program Director is Nancy Guthrie from Iowa State University. UI students earn 6 s.h. of resident credit.

Academic Program

Classes are held at CEDEI. The courses offered are Spanish language and Latin American History & Culture for 3 semester hours of resident credit per course. Each course will have an intermediate and advanced level as needed by participants Spanish language proficiency.

• Spanish Language class (Advanced or Intermediate Spanish) - 3 s.h.
• Ecuadorian History & Culture (Advanced or Intermediate) - 3 s.h.


CEDEI selects service sites in consultation with community leaders. While student interests will be considered, priority is given to community needs. Possibilities include healthcare, education, agriculture, and general development. The service learning component requires journaling, class readings and there will be time devoted to group reflection.
Survival Quichua classes are available if there is interest.

Where relevant, students are encouraged to discuss with their appropriate department faculty adviser the option of using the community service and journaling component of the program as a basis for field study or their honors thesis.

Program Dates

Program dates are May 24 to July 12.

For More Information

Before starting an application students need to meet with the Study Abroad for this program, Kristine Djerf.
An appointment can be made by calling 319-335-0353, or by stopping into the Study Abroad Office at 1111 University Capitol Centre.

CEDEI, Center for Interamerican Studies

The Center for Interamerican Studies (CEDEI in Spanish) has been a leader in language instruction and community engagement for more than 20 years in the heart of Cuenca. CEDEI is known as a center for Andean and Latin American Studies. Professors teach Spanish and culture courses.

CEDEI will select service learning sites in consultation with community leaders that reflect genuine reciprocal relationships between students and community members. While student interests will be considered, priority is given to community needs. Possibilities include healthcare, education, agriculture and general development. Survival Quichua classes are available if there is interest.


Santa Ana de los cuatro ríos de Cuenca, or Cuenca for short is the capital of the Azuay Province and is located in the highlands of Ecuador at about 8,200 feet above sea level. Cuenca has a long history having been settled by the Cañari people around 500 AD . About a half century before the conquistadors landed the area was absorbed by the Incas and the city became a regional capital, second only to Cusco. The Spanish settlement of Cuenca was founded in 1557. The then Viceroy of Peru had commissioned its founding and ordered the city named after his home town of Cuenca, Spain.
Today the city has a population of just over 300,000 and is the third largest city in Ecuador in size and economy. In 1999 the city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.


The Republic of Ecuador, which literally translates as "Republic of the Equator" is a representative democratic republic that is located in the northwestern part of the South American continent. It is one of seventeen megadiverse countries in the world, with the most species diversity per unit area. Ecuador's constitution of 2008 was the first in the world to recognize legally enforceable Rights of Nature, or ecosystem rights. Spanish is the official language, spoken by 94% of the population and thirteen indigenous languages are also recognized. The people of Quito were the first people of Latin America to call for independence from Spain in 1809. While the new government they set up only lasted for two months, it had important repercussions for the the independence movement of the rest of Spanish America. Today 40% of Eucador's exports is oil. It is also the largest banana producer and exporter in the world.

Some quick facts about Ecuador

• It is divided into four regions: The Amazon, The Highlands (Andes Mountains), The Coast and the Galapagos Islands
• The country uses the U.S. dollar as its currency
• Football (soccer) is the most popular sport in Ecuador
• 71% of the population is mestizo, meaning of both indigenous and European descent

Living Arrangements

UI student with her Ecuadorian host family

All participants live with an Ecuadorian family, generally, with 1 student per family, and are provided three meals per day.

Tentative Schedule

Students will arrive in Quito for orientation. While there, students visit local attractions such as Capilla del Hombre and the Midtad del Mundo. From Quito the group will travel to the Amazon region and visit a local community, an animal rescue center and a waterfall.

After this first week of orientation to Ecuador, students will then travel to Cuenca and meet their host families. Classes will begin on Monday, June 1st. Classes will be held Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Thursdays and Fridays will be spent doing service activities. Weekend excursions include numerous cultural activities and hiking in the nearby Andes mountains. June is filled with activities surrounding the indigenous event Inti Raymi or the Sun Festival.

The program ends on Friday, July 10. Students will be bussed to Guayaquil (the closest international airport) for return back to the USA or for travel to other locations.

Travel Arrangements

Students make their own travel arrangements. They are expected to arrive in Quito by the designated date and stay until the program is complete. More information will be available in post-acceptance materials.

Local Transportation

All local transportation will be provided to students for program related travel. Students are responsible for their own transportation, within Cuenca, to school and on their free days.


2.5 GPA, two semesters of college-level Spanish or the equivalent, Sophomore standing by program start date

Program Costs

Students are charged a Program Fee on their UBill. This charge covers tuition, housing (including three meals a day at host family), orientation, and planned field trips.

In addition to the Program Fee, students are assessed a University of Iowa Study Abroad Administrative Fee. The Iowa Regents mandatory international insurance (CISI) will also be charged to the UBill.

Other costs include round trip airfare, passport & student visa fees, some local transportation costs, books & supplies, and personal expenses.

Financial Aid & Scholarships

Most financial aid (scholarships, grants, and loans) is applicable to study abroad programs. Please check the Study Abroad website for information on financial aid and how it may be applied to studying abroad. You are also encouraged to speak with someone at the Office of Student Fianancial Aid to explore financial aid options.
Scholarship Opportunities exist for study abroad participants. Please explore Study Abroad’s websites for UI Study Abroad Scholarship Opportunities, and Non-UI External Awards.

How to Apply

Steps for applying

1. Students must meet with the Advisor before starting an application for this program.

2. Schedule and meet with Kristine Djerf, the Study Abroad Advisor for Latin America. Appointments can be set up in person at 1111 UCC or over the phone at 319-335-0353.

3. After meeting with the Advisor click here to complete the University of Iowa Study Abroad Application.

4. Students need to write a 250-word statement explaining why this particular program is important to them academically, personally and professionally. Include in the essay any prior experiences and/or interests that may have prepared you for it. Then this document needs to be uploaded to the application along with a copy of your grade report from ISIS. Students must also submit two letters of recommendation (at least one of them academic) to the Study Abroad office in order to complete the application process.

Once you've applied, Program Director Nancy Guthrie will schedule a phone interview with you to assess your interests and Spanish level.

Application Deadline

The Application Deadline for UI applicants is February 20.

Withdrawal policy

After applying for a Study Abroad Program, notice of withdrawal must be made in writing to University of Iowa Study Abroad. The date on which the letter or e-mail message is received is the date by which your costs will be calculated. If for any reason you withdraw after the confirmation deadline and before or during the course of the program, the amount/percentage shown in the following chart represents what you will be required to pay to the University of Iowa.

Date of Withdrawal Student Financial Responsibility
Within the first nine days after the confirmation deadline Portion of Study Abroad fee: 100%
Portion of Course Fees: $500
10-19 days past the confirmation deadline Portion of Study Abroad fee: 100%
Portion of Course Fees: 50%
20-44 days past the confirmation deadline Portion of Study Abroad fee: 100%
Portion of Course Fees: 75%
45 or more days past the confirmation deadline Portion of Study Abroad fee: 100%
Portion of Course Fees: 100%

Consult with your Study Abroad advisor for any clarification about fees and billing. Additional penalties for cancellation of airline tickets may also apply. Check with your airline for further details.


Pre-departure orientations are organized by the Program Director Nancy Guthrie. These orientations include skype sessions and a face-to-face gathering of all participants.

All UI students who are studying abroad must complete the ICON course TIPS Orientation. TIPS covers all kinds of important issues including health & safety while abroad, cultural adjustment, identity, and how to handle money while in another country. Other orientation sessions are given dealing with various subjects such as, “Living with a host family”, “Maximizing language learning while abroad”, “First time solo flyers” and more.

An individualized meeting with the Study Abroad Advisor will address specific topics including billing, registration and credit procedures at Iowa.

Confirmation Documents

Insurance Information

Before Traveling

Students must complete certain documents and activities before leaving for their study abroad experience and these include:
• Turning in a copy of the information page of their passport to Study Abroad.
• Completing and turning in a copy of their Credit Approval form.
• Registering in ISIS for the appropriate study abroad course.

1111 University Capitol Centre
The University of Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1802

Phone: (319) 335-0353
Fax: (319) 335-0343