Latin American Studies

Latin American Studies in Cuenca, Ecuador

“If we do not have the strength to grasp our hands with everyone’s hands, if we do not have the tenderness to hold in our arms the children of the world, if we do not have the will to clean the earth of all its armies, this small planet will be a dry and black body in a black space.” Osvaldo Guayasamín (Ecuadorian artist)

Latin American studies is a vast field. Often, students in this major are also practicing the language of Spanish–reading, writing and discussing the complex histories and cultures of the dozens of countries that make up Latin America. It can be said over and over again, but only until you experience it for yourself can you really understand how distinct each country in Latin America truly is. Though neighbors, Ecuador and Peru have unique differences, especially regarding the indigenous peoples. Colombia and Ecuador have a complicated relationship of trade and immigration due to refugees seeking sanctuary from FARC and the drug trade. To listen to the accent of Argentinians and Chileans compared to Colombians or Bolivians is like listening to different languages. Mexico is inextricably wound to the United States, through past and present, whereas other Latin American countries often have more covert connections to the U.S. The smaller countries of Central America are often the breeding grounds for cultural revolution and governmental change. So why, of all the countries, should you study Latin American Studies in Ecuador? And why particularly study this major in the city of Cuenca?

“It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.” Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Colombian writer)

Why study Latin American Studies in Ecuador?

Like many surrounding countries, Ecuador has bore witness to the reign of indigenous communities like the Cañaris and the Inca, the decline of tradition, the conquering of the Spanish, the fight for liberation, the economic dependency on oil, and a balance between socialism and democracy. Politically, Ecuador presents a unique situation in its socialist tendencies. The Constitution of 2008 is one of the most radical, inspirational political treatises written, and though aspects of it are followed more closely than others, it is a document worth studying to see the goals of Correa’s ambitious administration. Correa and his administration changed Ecuador into one of the most visited countries in South America; its tourism industry has exploded in the last decade, and with that has come drastic development and building of hospitals, roads, and schools.

“Feet, what do I need you for, when I have wings to fly?” Frida Kahlo (Mexican artist)

What about Ecuador is different from other Latino countries?

Ecuador is a microcosm of the world. Ecuadorians proudly say there are four worlds here: the Sierra (Andes Mountains), the coast, El Oriente (the jungle), and the Galápagos Islands. For a country so small, the ease of getting around is unparalleled. Other South American countries are huge in comparison. It takes hours, if not days, to cross Peru or Argentina on bus. But Ecuador can be passed in a day, in public transportation or by flying, and the highways are some of the best in South America. This ease of transport makes it easier to see and understand the differences of people, cultures, traditions within Ecuador. Also, since Ecuador uses the dollar, it makes traveling a lot easier.

“Language is the laughter of the soul.” Pablo Neruda (Chilean poet)

What’s the culture of Ecuador?

Though Ecuador is not home to the world-renowned works of Marquez or Neruda, or the paintings of Rivera or Kahlo, it is home to some of the most magnificent indigenous artisans whose craftwork, like blankets, instruments, shoes, shawls, wooden carvings, and paintings, is known in markets throughout the world. CEDEI hosts its Orientation in the northern part of the country, and students get the opportunity to go to Otavalo, the hub of the best artisan market in the country. Students learn about traditional instruments on their weekend excursions, and they can take courses on Andean Folk Music through the Music department at CEDEI.

Ecuador is also home to many incredible folk musicians, artists and writers. The museum of Guayasamín in Quito is breathtaking, one of the best museums that showcases the life and work of an artist, all within his home and studio. José María Egas, poet laureate of the late 20th century, wrote works that were often turned into musical pieces, waltzes, called pasillos. Around the larger cities, the vibrant architectural creations like La Catedral Nueva in Cuenca rival those in European cities. But, along with contemporary creations, there are also historical preservations, like the Incan sun temple Ingapirca where the solstice is still celebrated, as well as the Incan Trail which can be walked on a 3-day hike.

The true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love. It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality.” Che Guevara (Argentine Marxist revolutionary)

Why study Latin American Studies in Cuenca?

Cuenca was named a Patrimonial Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999, and in 2001, it was named the Cultural Capital of the Americas. It is a place where the intersection between indigenous and European and mestizo is seen, and felt, on a daily basis. There are fifty-two churches; it is a conservative city, set high in the Andes Mountains. There are dozens of museums and restaurants. Some of the best cuisine of Ecuador is in Cuenca; chefs who have studied in schools around the country or elsewhere, in Argentina or Spain, have returned to Cuenca to create modern fusions of local ingredients prepared in new ways. Some of our favorites are La Caleta and Dos Sucres. Because the city has such an emphasis on culture, many events like concerts, choir performances, and art shows are free to public. There are also dozens of fairs that happen in Cuenca; artisans from all over the continent come to this small city to show their art and explain their history.

“I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library.” Jorge Luis Borges (Argentine writer)

Why study Latin American Studies at CEDEI?

CEDEI has crafted an experience over twenty-five years that is an authentic immersion into Ecuadorian, specifically Cuencana, lifestyle. Students live with host families; these families have hosted students for years and are open to sharing their culture, their kitchen, and their traditions with new people. Students also have classes in English and Spanish. All students take some Spanish courses, and depending on the level of Spanish attained, students can take more courses in Spanish that will dive into the intricacies of race, culture, ethnicity, business, and more in one of the mother tongues of the country. The other language spoken, Quichua, is also offered as a course at CEDEI. Students can learn the indigenous language that is spoken throughout Ecuador as well as other South American countries. The entire semester experience is tailored so that students are living the life of an Ecuadorian, which is the ultimate goal for students learning about Latin American Studies.

Latin American Studies Courses

Look at the Anthropology, Spanish, Quichua, Sociology, Music and Art Courses


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Main Office Location

Administrative Offices: International Programs
Gran Colombia 11-02 y General Torres
Phones: (+5937) 2839003 – (+5937) 2823452 – (+5937) 2843874
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Email: Director of International Programs