Keisa Helgerson - CFANS Study Abroad Program

Term: Winter 2016 - 2017

Program: Exploring Ecuador: People, Land & Water from the Amazon to the Galapagos 

International Learning Grant, Go Global Grant and Diversity in Education Abroad Grant receiver.


I had an amazing experience traveling to Ecuador for three weeks over winter break to study water resource management and indigenous culture. Aside from the educational benefits, I made great connections with people and had the opportunity to visit a place I probably would never have gone to by myself.

I feel like I’ve come away from this experience with a much greater knowledge of Ecuadorian people, culture and environment. I value the ability to learn and grow from interacting with people who have different life experiences from my own and this trip gave me that opportunity.

One of the best parts of the trip for me was visiting the Amazon Basin. Hiking through the Amazon rainforest and seeing trees that are upwards of 400 years old was incredible and unlike anything I could see in Minnesota. As a forestry major, seeing vines the thickness of small trees, giant buttressed roots, and trees that can actually “walk” was eye-opening.

I never realized how much is out there, and I would love to return someday to continue learning. 

This trip reinforced my major and my career goals. I want to spend time outside and see all of the wonderful things nature has to offer.