Conexiones Ecuador has been rescheduled for Summer 2021. Dates TBA.

Conexiones Ecuador group photo - mountainside

Conexiones Ecuador is a summer study abroad in beautiful Cuenca, Ecuador. Combining language and cultural studies, this month long program offer students home stays with Ecuadorian families, Spanish language study at the Universidad de Cuenca, and excursions and study around the theme of Food, Sovereignty and Development. Nestled in the Andes Mountains, Cuenca is a World Heritage Site and melting pot of indigenous, Spanish, and international cultures.

For questions or more information, please email Dr. Marygold Walsh-Dilley at

Conexiones-Ecuador offers you the opportunity to study Spanish or Quichua in the Andean city of Cuenca, a World Heritage Site boasting pre-colonial ruins and Spanish colonial architecture. Tucked between four rushing rivers, Cuenca’s lush environment and cultural vibrancy welcomes visitors with many opportunities to explore the Andes mountains and Ecuadorian culture. Conexiones students live with host families for an immersion experience, attend classes at the Universidad de Cuenca, and participate in field trips and other excursions around the city and the surrounding region. A unique element of Conexiones is the combination of immersion and support. Conexiones offers independence for students to explore their host community and pursue their own interests but program faculty on site help students navigate and make the most of their experience. Culture shock support groups help students reflect on their experiences and recognize culture shock as a positive, if sometimes uncomfortable, opportunity for growth.

Conexiones Ecuador group photo in the city

Ecuador provides an extraordinary opportunity to learn about food, sovereignty, and development. With 13 indigenous languages recognized by the Ecuadorian State, indigenous culture remains a vibrant and important element of Ecuadorian culture. But, its indigenous population is Ecuador’s most vulnerable and impoverished segment of society, and indigenous groups struggle for sovereignty, representation, and development. This class examines these dynamics through the lens of food, seeking to understand how food cultures and agricultural production contribute to indigenous cultural survival and livelihoods. This class explores the food systems of Ecuador, from the large-scale plantations that makes Ecuador one of the world’s leading suppliers of bananas to the micro level “minifundios” on which rural folks make their modest livings. We’ll explore Ecuadorian ideas for building a better, more sustainable, and socially just food system.


All UNM students with a GPA of at least 3.0 are invited to participate in Conexiones. Students should have taken at least one year of Spanish language classes, or otherwise be able to test into a 200-level Spanish course. Students must be mature and responsible, able to represent UNM and New Mexico well in a foreign country where the rules and expectations are often very different from home.

How to Apply

Students will apply through the Global Education Office website: The early application deadline is December 2nd, 2019. Second application (if spots are still available) is February 3, 2020. Students may apply before the deadline.

If you are interested or have questions, please email Conexiones Director Marygold Walsh-Dilley,

Conexiones Ecuador fireworks

Program Fee

Projected Program Fee - $2,500*

*Depending on enrollment and external funding

Summer Tuition

UNM tuition rates for summer 2020 have not been released yet, but click here for the summer tuition for 2019. Summer tuition can be covered by Pell Grants, which usually covers the full amount.

Scholarships and Financial Aid

Honors Travel Scholarship: Honors students are eligible to apply for a travel scholarship. The amount will be awarded based on the availability of funds. Apply Here. Application due February 3rd, 2020.

UNM Regents’ International Study Grant: This grants supports UNM students who study abroad. Information and application here:

Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship: a grant program offered by the US Department of State, open to US citizen undergraduate students who receive Federal Pell Grant funding. For more information, visit The grant runs in two cycles, with a Cycle 1 Deadline of October 1, 2019. Cycle II deadline is in the spring.

Conexiones Ecuador treats

Conexiones Ecuador handstand

Air Travel

Students make their own travel arrangements to Quito, Ecuador, at their own expense. Faculty will recommend flights to facilitate traveling together as a group, but students can make whichever arrangements best suits their needs. Students should plan to arrive in Quito the evening or night of May 28. We will travel to a nearby hostel before our first full day of the program, on May 29. The cost of the flight to Ecuador depends on departure location, itinerary, and when the flight is booked. You can expect the flight to cost between $800 and $1600.

Passport and Insurance

A passport is required for travel to Ecuador. Students who are US citizens do not need a visa for stays less than 90 days. If you do not have a current US passport, get information about how to apply for one. UNM has a passport office in the Bookstore, which can help you with your application.

All students are required to have travel insurance for international accident and medical coverage for the duration of the program, and UNM works with an insurance company to provide this travel insurance to students. The Global Education Office provides information about how to acquire this insurance. 

Travel Itinerary

May 28, 2020: Arrive in Quito, Ecuador (flights from the US usually arrive in the late evening or night)

May 29 – May 31: Excursions around Quito and travel to Cuenca

June 1-26: Homestays in Cuenca, coursework at Universidad de Cuenca, and excursions

June 26: End of formal program

June 27-July 3: Optional week of travel in Ecuador

Excursions within Ecuador

  • Middle of the World and the equator
  • Agroecology Training Center
  • Flower plantation
  • COPROBICH agricultural cooperative
  • Cajabama market
  • El Cajas National Park
  • Corpus Christi Feast celebrations at the Cuenca cathedral
  • Banana plantation
  • Jadan women’s agroecological collective
  • Ingapirca Incan ruins
  • Village of Saraguro for Inti Raymi (summer solstice) celebration
  • Cooking class with La Warma Cocina y Taller

 Conexiones Ecuador about town

Students in Conexiones-Ecuador 2020 will receive 10 credits through the program:

  • 3 credits of Spanish Language, taken with faculty at the Universidad de Cuenca (200, 300, or 400-level)
  • 3 credits of Spanish from UNM: Span 301- Food Writing: Identity, Community and Culture in Latin America, offered by Professor Santiago Vaquera-Vasquez
  • 4 credits in Honors: a 1-credit preparatory course taken in the second half of the Spring semester (UHON 399) and the 3-credit UHON 301 Conexiones course, both taught by Professor Marygold Walsh-Dilley


Marygold Walsh-Dilley directs the Conexiones-Ecuador program. She is a Development Sociologist and Assistant Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences in the Honors College at UNM. Her research focuses on rural development in indigenous communities in the Andes.

Santiago Vaquera-Vasquez is an unrepentant border crosser, writer, photographer and academic. He is Associate Professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at UNM. His work focuses on the Chicano experience in the US and US/Mexico border cultures.

Conexiones Ecuador group photo