Academic school plans educational, mission trip to Ecuador

March 4, 2010

PLAINVIEW – Traveling to tropical locations is likely the dream of most college students. But throw in some adventure activities, classroom and hands-on learning experiences, mission work and the chance to earn college credit and the trip is tailor-made for many students at Wayland Baptist University.

That’s why Dr. Jim Todd, dean of the School of Education at Wayland, is so excited about the next venture for the school and its students. The June trip to Ecuador in South America will combine both learning and missions work along with some fun and adventure. 

For two weeks, students will participate in a wide variety of activities and can earn up to four hours of credit while at it. Multicultural Education, a required course for all education majors, will be offered for three hours (both at the undergraduate or graduate level) and students can also pick up one hour of activity credit needed for graduation in adventure activities. A three-hour course in personal and community health can also be chosen in place of the multicultural education course.

“We’ll be working for a week in the rain forest and in an orphanage teaching English as a second language,” noted Todd. “Erika Deike (assistant professor of exercise and sport science) will be working with students on women’s health issues within the culture there.”

The adventure activities course will involve breaks in the mission work to enjoy whitewater rafting, mountain biking, canyoning – which is rappelling down a waterfall – horseback riding and other activities.

The group will be based in the capital city of Quito and staying in a guest house run by Kelly and Darryl Chambers, parents of WBU soccer player Courtney Chambers and missionaries to Ecuador. Todd noted that the orphanage is roughly 90 minutes away by plane and must be reached that way since it is in a remote location without roads.

Todd noted that like many mission trips Wayland hosts, “this could be a life-changing experience for some of our students, just seeing how other cultures live. This fits right into Wayland’s mission and theme.”

He said he and Deike have been discussing possibilities with the Chamberses of the School of Education and Wayland becoming long-term partners with Ecuador, bringing their knowledge and skills to improve the nation’s industry and standard of living. Though the country is a major exporter of roses and orchids, they have very little other industry and the majority of residents make less than $20 per day in wages.

While all education students take the multicultural education course as a graduation requirement, Todd said the Ecuador class will have a totally different feel as they will be experiencing multiple cultures in one two-week period. He noted that Ecuador has five ethnic groups and a strong caste system that limits to a great degree how much education or advancement residents are able to have. He said exploring that caste system will be quite informative for students.

“It will be exciting for our student to see how we can empower people to get leadership roles,” he said.

Deike said the trip is exactly the kind of collaboration she envisioned when she first joined the Wayland faculty in Fall 2009, bringing with her a heart for mission work that began 10 years ago with her first mission trip. Since then, she’s traveled all over the world on mission and had a deep desire to continue that pattern. 

“I love learning about different cultures, and I learn so much about myself and how to love others as well. It’s been a dream of mine to teach in college and then be able to go on mission trips during the summer and take students with me,” she said.

Now that that dream has come true, Deike said she’s excited for students to be able to the same life-changing experiences she has had and also be able to take the skills from the classroom and apply them.

“I hope my students will see how fortunate they are and they feel like they’re growing closer to Christ and will continue to serve and love others. I want it to change their mindset on life for the future,” she said. “When you have to teach others the skills, you learn it well. It’s my passion to teach people about health and wellness, and I want to share that passion with my students so they will share with others as well.”

The trip will be from June 9-23 and will involve two days of class work and preparation beforehand and two days of debriefing and class work upon the group’s return. The trip costs $2700 per person, which includes tuition for four hours through WBU and all transportation, room and board costs.

Alumni are welcome to participate in the trip as well. The first deposit of $900 is currently due, and the group is planning fundraisers in the near future to help offset costs and make the trip accessible to more students. Tax-deductible donations are also being accepted for those who wish to help offset the cost for the trip for others.

For more information on the Ecuador trip, contact Jim Todd at 291-1045 or Erika Deike at 291-3791.