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The site of UEES is Samborondón, just outside Guayaquil, Ecuador's largest city with a population of approximately 2.5 million. Noted for its hustle and bustle, and the friendliness of its people, Guayaquil is the hub of an active import-export industry and serves as the financial center of Ecuador.
As one of Latin America's mega-cities, Guayaquil presents sharp contrasts between rich and poor, where glittering modern buildings exist alongside shanty towns lacking basic services. It is, in short, a place to learn about the realities of urban life in the tropics.
But the city and its environs also have a charming side. The historic Las Peñas district gives a glimpse of Guayaquil's elegant past, while an outing on the Morgan ship harks back to the day's when pirates were a constant threat to the city. The centerpiece of the city is its colorful boardwalk – Malecón 2000 – where Guayaquileños from all walks of life like to parade along the river.
Surrounding Guayaquil is a variety of fascinating and important ecological areas – mangrove swamps, desert, tropical dry forest, cloud forest, and pristine beaches – all within easy reach, and many of which UEES international students visit on field trips.
Combining all of these elements – history, culture and environment – is the Parque Histórico in Samborondón, just 5 minutes from the university. We encourage all students to visit the park, particularly in the company of their host families, to share a slice of Guayaquil life.
Service Learning: Internships and Volunteer Projects
We have a strong social focus, as we see service in the community as the perfect accompaniment to a true learning experience in Guayaquil. Accordingly we facilitate our international students in committing themselves to service learning placements at foundations or NGOs that work at addressing the acute social needs in the city.
We offer placements ideal for students and professionals in the fields of Education, Social Work, Health, Nursing, Medicine, Physical Therapy, Physicians Assistants, Psychology, Dentistry, Veterinary Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Nutrition, Business and Administration, International Relations and Development, and ESL/TESOL. Students are placed according to their skill sets and Spanish language level, and all placements are monitored by CEI staff, in consultation with the on-site supervisor.
These internships can be for credit or solely voluntary, but the level of commitment is the same (approximately 120 hours per semester). The service component allows students to make a positive contribution as they learn about other cultures, the dynamics between poor and rich countries, and themselves.
Along with the long-term placements outlined above, we also offer the opportunity to get involved in a one-day work project in conjunction with one of our social partners. These volunteer projects do not require the same level of commitment as those outlined above, nor do they require any level of Spanish language ability. However, they do require a willingness to work hard and to make a donation toward the cost of the house.
Our principal work project is building houses with the NGO Hogar de Cristo, a Latin American NGO that has been supplying low-cost (at times no-cost) housing to the poorest of the poor in Guayaquil for many years. The foundation has supplied over 140,000 homes in Ecuador alone. Along with housing, Hogar de Cristo also provides education, basic health care, food and nutrition, and micro-credit to those with no access to such services.
UEES international students help to build houses, but in the end gain more than they contribute from the experience of working side-by-side with people from the city's poorest neighborhoods. We encourage students to also raise funds prior to departure for Ecuador. This money will go directly toward putting a roof over the head of a poor family.
The summer Serve and Learn Program consists of one Spanish language class (taught at your linguistic level) and one Service Learning class. Each class is worth 3 credits and both classes must be taken.
All students live with Ecuadoran families located in Samborondón.
The UEES campus is one of the most picturesque and best-equipped in Ecuador . We have a modern library; sports complex with gym, pool and fields; radio, television and music studios; student-run restaurant and café; doctor's surgery; fleet of private buses to transport students to and from classes; and a large number of computers spread throughout the university. We also have iguanas wandering around the main plaza.
International students at UEES are provided with an identity card that gives them access to all of these facilities at no extra charge.