The University has partnered with Pachaysana, an Ecuadorian virtual study abroad program, to teach four immersive courses in the coming spring semester, two of which will be taught in Spanish and two in English. Eligible students can register for these courses through traditional course registration on WesMaps. 

While all spring study abroad programs were suspended due to COVID-19, Pachaysana provides an alternative to studying abroad during the pandemic. Students who have taken at least four semesters of Spanish or have a Spanish proficiency at the level of SPAN112 or higher are eligible for the courses. Similar to traditional University study abroad programs, all four Pachaysana courses are exclusively for sophomores, juniors, and seniors. 

Pachaysana was chosen from a variety of other virtual opportunities because of its uniquely immersive experience. The two courses taught in Spanish are referred to as a Virtual Exchange Program rather than study abroad because each University student is assigned a partner from Ecuador who they will collaborate with on projects and assignments. 

While the courses taught in English are not designed the same way, all four Pachaysana courses have immersive elements, including the symbiotic relationship between the University and communities in Ecuador. 

“This particular partner has a very close relationship with its host community and does education and service and different kinds of things in the host community in Ecuador,” Director of Study Abroad Emily Gorlweski said. “Obviously, the students who participate in their programs also bring in some revenue, which helps the community.”

The courses are listed in WesMaps under “Dance and Anthropology,” and can be found by searching the keyword “Ecuador.” Additionally, because they are University courses, the courses do not require an extra payment in tuition.

“It’s just a Wesleyan course, so you don’t have to pay extra for it,” Gorlewski said. “We are paying the organization. But students don’t have to pay any extra.” 

It is unclear whether this program will continue once regular study abroad programs are made available again, but these courses will not replace traditional study abroad opportunities. 

“It’s not going to overwhelmingly change what study abroad looks like at Wesleyan in the future,” Chair of Wesleyan Student Assembly Academic Affairs Committee Ben Garfield ’22 said. “I know, in the context of, ‘Should Wesleyan classes be offered online, in some contexts in the future?’ That’s a far bigger question that I think needs to be asked. And I think that there are so many elements that go into that and we can be asking ourselves that question for five years and never come up with a significant answer.”

Despite the changes the pandemic has brought to typical study abroad programs, Gorlewski is enthusiastic about the opportunities the Pachaysana program can provide students. 

“It’s definitely not the same as being on-site for study abroad,” Gorlweski said. “But this program is sort of uniquely suited to intercultural learning and to participate with the people in the culture. So it’s kind of going to be an intense experience, I think, for our students…I think it’s going to be very rewarding. And I think that it will be very memorable.” 


Molly Meyer can be reached at

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