Monday, June 29, 2009

Saludos from Quito

Buenos dias, family and friends!

After a long day of travel, everyone made it to Quito, Ecuador on Saturday night! Though we were delayed for a bit in Miami, the extra hour gave everyone more time to get to know one another and the flight was a breeze. By the time we landed in Quito it was as if everyone had been friends for years!

After being met at the airport, we traveled to our hostal en La Mariscal of Quito, where we had a brief meeting and the students were introduced to our early leader, Jess. Once our pow-wow was finished, everyone headed to bed and promptly fell asleep. We slept well that night!

Sunday morning we awoke for an early morning breakfast and then held our main orientation. Using a few very clever games, we all got to know each other a little better and have decided that this will, without a doubt, be a phenomenal three weeks.

We then spent the rest of the morning walking around La Mariscal taking photos and exploring the area. During lunch everyone was introduced to the delicious, fresh fruit juices of Ecuador and it was eventually agreed upon that there would be no need for Coke, Sprite, or any other sodas while we're here! Later in the afternoon students broke up into their On Assignment teams and had mini-orientations of their own.

To top off our first day in Quito, we took a guided tour through Old Town, including a walk through Plaza Independencia and a look at the oldest monastery in Quito. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the tour,
especially since it was not only educational, but also theatrical. We then stopped at the oldest ice cream shop in Quito, and headed out for a late, relaxing dinner back in La Mariscal.

After a good night's sleep tonight, we are off to Mindo tomorrow afternoon for some tubing, hikes and swimming!

Alex & Jess

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The group has arrived

We've received word from the expedition leaders that the group has arrived in Quito.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Meet the Expedition Leaders

Wildlife & Conservation
Alexandra Silva.
Cornell University, B.S. Alex was an Animal Science major and a Natural Resources minor at Cornell, with a special emphasis on wildlife and habitat preservation. She spent a semester at the Universidad San Fransisco de Quito’s Evolution, Ecology, and Conservation in the Galápagos program, where she studied and traveled the varied regions of Ecuador, including Quito, the rainforest and the Galápagos Islands. She served as a volunteer veterinary technician at CEMEII, an animal hospital on the island of San Cristóbal, where she worked directly with the Galápagos campaign to limit the damage caused by domestic cats and dogs, and as an animal keeper at the Santa Marta Rescue Center in Tambillo, Ecuador. At Cornell, Alex was a teaching assistant for a course on domestic animal biology, a journalist for the New York Forest Owner Association newsletter, and an administrative assistant for the Cornell Cooperative Extension. She worked as a veterinary technician at the VCA Berwyn Animal Hospital in Berwyn, Illinois. In the fall of 2009 she begins a two-year fellowship with Environment America, an environmental advocacy organization. Alex has traveled throughout Ecuador, Venezuela, and Chile. She is fluent in Spanish.


Jes Therkelsen. Amherst College, B.A.; American University, M.F.A. Jes is a Washington D.C-based photographer, filmmaker, media consultant, and educator. He graduated magna cum laude from Amherst, where he majored in Geology and collaborated with NASA on his thesis project. After receiving a one-year Hellenic American Educational Fellowship to teach in Athens, Greece, he relocated to Washington DC to study social media at the Center for Social Media at American University. Jes has written, produced, and directed several award-winning independent films, and is the owner and founding director of Sensory Media Arts LLC, a Washington-based media production company. He serves as a lecturer in Film and Visual Media at American University and Catholic University in D.C. As a 2008 Advocacy Peace Fellow in Nepal, he initiated The Clean Hands Project – a media campaign meant to empower and mobilize Nepali Dalits by teaching them photography and video-making. The project may be viewed on-line at Jes’s photographs have been exhibited at numerous venues in Washington, including the Washington School of Photography, Touchstone Gallery, Tryst Café, Healing Arts Gallery, and the New Media Center at American University. He is currently a 2009 Washington D.C. Artist Fellow. Besides filmmaking and photography, Jes is an avid musician and composer.


Welcome family and friends of National Geographic Student Expeditions participants!

We have created this blog in order to keep you updated on the progress of your child’s National Geographic Student Expedition this summer. We hope that occasional updates throughout the expedition will help keep you informed about the activities, projects and successes of the program.

The expedition leaders will post entries approximately once per week during the program. The leaders’ first priority is the students and the program. If updates are infrequent, it is likely due to the group’s very busy schedule and inconsistent internet access. Please know that any important issues that arise during the program will be discussed and resolved with leaders and parents by phone, not through the blog.

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Best wishes from us all at National Geographic Student Expeditions