First Year Global: A high point
The First Year Global program is a new initiative that provides an opportunity for a group of first-year students to develop intercultural communication skills by interacting with and learning from communities and researchers outside of the United States.
We visited the Antisana National Park, where Antisana is the fourth-highest volcano in Ecuador at 18,875 feet above sea level, and much of the park is higher than 13,000 feet above sea level.
For many people in our group, this is the highest point we had ever been with the exception of flying. On the bus ride up to the park, we went bird watching and saw a few Andean condors, which are the largest flying birds in the Western Hemisphere, as well as white-tailed deer, Andean foxes, and many species of diverse birds and plants.
Antisana is part of the páramo region of Ecuador, which has its own biodiversity. We discovered that there are several differences between this elevation and the elevation we call home. For one, it is a lot cooler and quite windy. We noted that these conditions, along with the elevation itself, made it difficult for trees and taller plants to grow, so the land was populated with smaller shrubs and lots of moss and cushion plants.
While at 13,000 feet, we performed some field work. The data we collected was for the purpose of comparing the ecology of Ecuador at different elevations. Some groups collected thermal energy readings, while some measured the slope of the area.
Visiting Antisana was an incredible life experience, as well as a learning experience.
Geography major Anna Fletcher of Valparaiso, Ind., also contributed to this blog post.
Lucy Buzea is a biology and Spanish major from Colona, Ill.