HoLa Goes to Ecuador
One of the most unique and exciting opportunities for HoLa families is to travel together on cultural immersion trips during Spring Break. This year was HoLa’s inaugural family trip. Six HoLa families traveled to Quito and the Galápagos to further develop their language skills, experience a new culture, and actively learn in a “school without walls” setting.
In Quito, students traveled to the Center of the World, latitude 0’ 0’’, and learned about rotational forces and the Coriolis Effect. They also toured the old city, visiting historic sites like the presidential palace and Plaza de la Independencia. A plan, boar and bus ride later, the group arrived in Santa Cruz and Puerto Villamil in the Galápagos to learn about conservation efforts in the complex, yet fragile, ecosystems of the islands. Students learned about both endemic and invasive species to the islands and saw first hand how the flora and fauna have adapted and evolved to survive.
Every day consisted of new geological or ecological lessons. On a visit to the Darwin Research Station, students saw how endemic Galápagos species are being studied and protected, including the world famous Galápagos Tortoises. In the highlands, the group hiked to the rim of Mount Sierra Negra, an active volcano, to learn how volcanic eruptions and the earth’s plate tectonics formed the islands millions of years ago.
Other activities included snorkeling with sharks, encountering a wild flock of migrating flamingos, witnessing 100+ year old wild tortoises, swimming with sea lions and cycling to the Wall of Tears, the ruins of an Ecuadorian penal colony. The trip was truly the experience of a lifetime. In true HoLa fashion, all activities were mainly presented in Spanish and HoLa students translated for their parents, practiced and immersed themselves in the Spanish language.