• Social Innovation Fellowship

Award Year 

Esperanza International

Esperanza International is a student-run NGO dedicated to addressing the social and environmental consequences of oil extraction through our work with indigenous communities in the Ecuadorian Amazon.  We aim to improve educational opportunities for indigenous youth and support local efforts to engage in cultural conservation and ecotourism through the collaboration between students and indigenous leaders.  This summer, Laurie Schleimer and Blair Cameron will bring a group of interns from universities in the United States and Ecuador to live and work with the Secoya community of Ecuador.  The interns will be trained as advocates for marginalized Amazonian cultures, and the relationships they form in the community will serve as the foundation for collaborations on long-term projects in education, ecotourism and cultural conservation.


Personal statement

I first traveled to the Ecuadorian Amazon as an intern for Esperanza International in summer 2010. Spending the summer living with an indigenous Secoya family, I witnessed firsthand the effects globalization has had on the region through the toxic contamination left by oil companies and more recently through the development of the palm oil industry. Through the experience, I developed close ties to the Secoya community and strong relationships with Secoya leaders. This year, along with Laurie Schleimer, I became a Project Leader with Esperanza, and together we are very excited about returning to the Secoya community as Starr fellows this summer.