12 credits in Spring or Summer (minimum enrollment of 8 required.)
This unique and exciting abroad program takes place in the North Rupununi region of Guyana, South America. Guyana, the 'land of many waters', is an English-speaking country with a population of only 750,000 people and the land area equivalent to Idaho. It is still over 75% forested with ancient, largely pristine, tropical rain forest largely (85%) intact. The North Rupununi region of Guyana contains both tropical rain forest and savanna biomes and is inhabited by less than 1 person per square mile. The land is supremely rich with biodiversity and has global significance because of its large numbers of species, many of which are geographically confined to the Guianan Shield (due to its 1 billion year plus age and the vastness of its still largely intact habitats).The North Rupununi is home to the communal Makushi indigenous people, who live in several villages in this expansive and breathtakingly beautiful landscape. The Makushi still hunt with bow and arrow, build dugout canoes, and practice small scale shifting agriculture. However, the North Rupununi is undergoing rapid change, with a burgeoning and unique village-run sustainable ecotourism industry competing with oil interests, gold mining, timber harvesting, and habitat conversion for soybeans. Communities and leaders recognizing these changes have stated that youth education is a priority. With the introduction of the new Amerindian Act in 2006, the Makushi have legitimate land rights but a stated challenge is a need for wider spread literacy and numeracy that are required for communities to participate effectively with growing interests in ecotourism and community development. The situation is critical as the world becomes more aware of Guyana's significant natural resources. The Guyana Lesley Abroad Service Semester (GLASS) program will support the Makushi demand for increased literacy and numeracy through formal and informal teaching and learning and collaborative research complementing the government curriculum. The program will grow from an initial start in Yupukari Village to include other villages in the North Rupununi. It will also grow as we develop relationships with other Guyanese programs and institutions, and new opportunities for collaboration develop from the inclusion of Iwokrama and NRDDB training for our students, to participation in ongoing Bina Hill-based and NRDDB-backed research projects, to formal exchanges of Lesley and University of Guyana faculty and students in science and education.Yupukari, a hilltop village on the banks of the Rupununi River, has a population of approximately 500 people (primarily Makushi and a small number of Wapishan). The village has a primary school and nursery school, an after school program, a public library, and the Caiman House Field Station and Guest House, which is run by Rupununi Learners Incorporated (RLI), with support from Rupununi Learners Foundation (http://www.rupununilearners.org). Satellite internet and laptop computers are available. Throughout the eight week experience, students will be invited to live amongst villagers in a true immersion experience.This program would not be possible without the partnership, shared vision, generosity, and entrepreneurial initiative of Rupununi Learners Foundation, a US 501c3, and Rupununi Learners Inc., a Guyanese Nonprofit Corporation operated by Yupukari villagers. These sister organizations have developed, sponsored, and attained funding for a vibrant primary school setting, after-school programs, teaching and teacher training experiences for volunteers (including a steady presence of Peace Corps volunteers), the Yupukari Public Library, satellite-based internet, the Caiman House Field Station and Guest House, and Community-Based Environmental Research projects on Black Caiman and other reptiles, plants, and birds.RLI will provide full logistic support for student travel, domestic transport, room and board, and all aspects of immersion in the North Rupununi. Students will live in volunteer housing in Yupukari village and Katoka, a nearby small satellite village (approximately 25 km way with some 500 people). Additional housing will be built and host families will be identified in other villages as the program expands. RLI staff will be present throughout the students' stay, and opportunities exist for the online faculty to be present as well (at their own cost or subsidized by adequate enrollment). Faculty will stay at Caiman House.
Assistant Professor of Biology
Associate Professor of Social Study of Science
Undergraduate Study Abroad
Foreign Languages at Lesley
News from 29 Mellen
Child Homelessness Initiative
College of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies
Request more information
Request a campus visit
Get your application started today!