HEAF 11th and 12th grade students had an adventure of a lifetime when they embarked on a 12-day trip to Ecuador for this year’s Learning for Social and Global Impact (LSGI) trip. LSGI immerses HEAF students through research, networking, hands on activities, community service and travel to foster critical thinking, creative problem solving, social philanthropy and leadership through service learning.

In preparation for the Summer 2023 trip to Ecuador, students spent the 2022-2023 school year learning about Ecuador’s history, culture and cuisine, as well as the impacts of climate change in Ecuador, social justice, and more. Students completed cultural comparison projects and cuisine exploration projects. During their time in Ecuador, the high school juniors and seniors worked on a social justice project regarding the current issues faced in Ecuador both financially and environmentally.

“This trip was very meaningful for HEAF students due to the magnitude of impact it will have on their lives, their families, the indigenous Amazon community and the families we connected with and supported during our time in Ecuador” said Christabel Martinez, HEAF’s Senior Director of Programs.

HEAF partnered with Global Routes to plan and run this meaningful excursion. Global Routes is a pioneer in the world of value-driven, experiential-based, international programming. Since 1967, they have led over 10,000 students around the globe on meaningful, fun, and growth-oriented summer programs. Through the program, HEAF students were offered an unparalleled opportunity to immerse themselves into small rural communities, develop long-lasting cross-cultural relationships, and make positive contributions that will last a lifetime.

Students hit the ground running for this action-packed and educational trip. Beginning in Otavalo, Ecuador, students explored Andean Philosophy, visited the indigenous artisan market in town, participated in a weaving workshop with local artists, hiked to the famous Peguche Waterfall and Laguna Cuicocha, and each day enjoyed lunch and meaningful conversations with local families.

Next in the Amazon Region of Ecuador, the group learned about ecological history and challenges within the Amazon Region, met with indigenous groups and explored 21st century social justice issues. Everyone had a blast white water rafting on the Amazon River!

While in the Amazon region, students also partook in a day of service with the local indigenous community. Students helped build the foundation for a plant nursery, and learned how to craft traditional bracelets.

Finally, in Quito, Ecuador’s capital, the group had the opportunity to explore the historic city and relax while reflecting on the experience they had.

HEAF is grateful for the generosity of the Secunda Family Foundation, which made this years experience possible for our students. It was one for the books, and we look forward to next year’s adventure!

View the 2023 LSGI Trip photo gallery here.