Posted March 20, 2014
Idaho State University English Major Morgan Heeder was recently accepted by the Andes and Amazon Field School to study traditional medical practices and beliefs in the Amazon.
She will be studying in Iyarina, Ecuador. She will take classes in Quechua language while learning more in the field of linguistic methodology. She leaves the end of May and returns in August.
Amazonian Ecuador is linguistically diverse. Important work on the under-studied languages of Ecuador has begun, but there is still considerable work to do, according to school administrators. Heeder will have opportunities to network with scholars from the United States and Ecuador so she can gain a deeper understanding of her linguistic discipline through its practice in a foreign setting.
This is not Heeder’s first experience in Ecuador. She went to Ecuador in 2009 to do volunteer work in a children’s hospital and to learn Spanish. While there, she learned that Spanish was not the first language in Ecuador, it was Quechua. “The order of language in Ecuador is Quecha, Spanish, and English. I learned the languages in the reverse order,” said Heeder.
Heeder enjoyed the culture so much that she wanted to return. About a year and a half ago, she started looking for exchange schools that would take her back to Ecuador. ISU’s exchange program does not extend to Ecuador so she chose to go through BYU for this program. She joins approximately 60 students from universities throughout the United States.
Heeder will take classes in Quechua language along with other classes and earn up to 12 credits while there. Students stay in school housing while there.
“I will be staying in the jungle in huts that are connected by walkways. They use walkways because it is not safe to walk on the ground because of snakes and other things that crawl around,” she said.
The school staff provides the students with three meals daily and Heeder says the food is amazing. The program cost is $8,000, which includes housing and meals. She is paying this without any help but feels it is worth the experience.
Heeder graduates from ISU May 2015 and plans to go to graduate school in Linguistics. She is looking at University of Texas in Austin and New York University.
“There are a lot of opportunities for travel and education out there for people to take advantage of and they should take advantage if they can,” Heeder says.