C of I group studies culture, healthcare in Ecuador

The students walked in one by one until all 12 occupied a chair. Chatter filled the classroom air, embodying their anticipation. The following day, at 6 a.m., they would arrive at the Boise Airport—the first stop on an eye-opening, three-week journey to South America.

For the first time, College of Idaho biology and Spanish professors Dr. Luke Daniels and Dr. Jennie Daniels will lead a Spanish for Healthcare Practitioners study tour in Ecuador. The goal of the trip is to provide students with a “cultural perspective on wellness and health.”

“I think it’s going to be an amazing experience to look at the different medical practices in another country,” said Aliza Auces, a junior double-majoring in Spanish and health sciences. “It’s both of my worlds put together.”

For some students, such as sophomore health science major Kaylee Chamberlain, the trip will offer the first glimpses of life outside of the United States, period.

After scouting the country last summer, the Daniels siblings will guide students to the cities of Quito, Shell and Guayaquil, hitting the coastal, rainforest and mountainous regions of Ecuador. Students will learn how culture affects perceptions, procedures and practices in healthcare and wellness of a different country.

“One of the first things you notice is pharmaceuticals and the way they are distributed,” Jennie Daniels said, adding pharmacists can give out a wider range of over-the-counter drugs in Ecuador.

Students will be introduced to a variety of healthcare professionals and practices ranging from community health clinics to learning about traditional indigenous medicines. They also will learn basic Spanish related to the body, illness and health emergencies.

Each day, the students will go over readings, vocab and grammar activities, and will be required to reflect on the day’s proceedings in a journal.

The group also will be woven into the Ecuadorian fabric through a week-long home stay with Ecuadorians, and through exploring places such as the craft market in Otavalo, where the town’s residents have been weavers since pre-Incan times.

“We’re trying to get the students to interact with locals, so we’re not just observing Ecuadorian culture,” Jennie Daniels said.

Stay tuned to the C of I Flickr site and social media channels for photo coverage throughout the trip.

Founded in 1891, The College of Idaho is the state’s oldest private liberal arts college. The C of I has a legacy of academic excellence, a winning athletics tradition and a history of producing successful graduates, including seven Rhodes Scholars and 14 Marshall, Truman and Goldwater Scholars. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competencies in the four knowledge peaks of the humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. For more information, visit