“Today marks the conclusion of my first week of the Agroforestry and Environmental Development internship in Ecuador. I am astonished at how much experience I have gained and how much of an adventure I have had.
I have enjoyed learning more about the project and their mission of creating value from the guayusa tree that improves both the indigenous Kichwa community and the ecosystem. It is fascinating how successful the project is in employing both their non-profit and profitable organization. There are currently 3 projects that the interns are helping with: water quality research, social entrepreneurship, and forest conservation. I have been helping mostly with the water quality research to investigate the presence of E.Coli in the bottled water that is distributed to local communities.
I am living in a house in Archidona with 7 other interns and Raine, the Ecuador coordinator. We typically wake up at around 7:30 and begin our day with lots and lots of guayusa tea. Lindsay, the program manager, arrives at the house at around 8am and assigns specific responsibilities of the day. Each day has been completely different with activities ranging from writing articles for social media to conducting surveys of water quality. One of my favorite days since being here started with a 5am guayusa ceremony, a common practice in the Kichwa culture. We then met Ruth, a local guayusa farmer, to explore her chacra and learn more about harvesting guayusa.
The project’s dedication to sustainability does not end with the guayusa tree. Our intern house has a chicken coop, a composting bin and a variety of different vegetables that we maintain. We all have weekly assigned chores that build a cohesive community among us and create a habitual lifestyle of sustainability that we can continue even after our trip ends.
Although we work Monday through Friday, there has definitely been plenty of time for fun. The intern house is a 5 minute walk from the Misahualli river where we can swim, relax or even bathe. We often take a bus trip to Tena to shop, go to bars or eat at restaurants. I am looking forward to continue out the next 4 weeks of my internship!”