South America

Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia

Spring Semester, 2018: Contact us to learn more about our waitlist.

Spring Semester, 2019: Priority Applications Due February 1, 2018

Spring Semester Dates: February 1 – May 15

Potential activities on this semester include:

  • Delve into the jungle with naturalists to explore plants, animals, and waterways of the Amazon Basin
  • Participate in community projects and a homestay with an indigenous Quichua family
  • Explore one of the oldest haciendas in Ecuador to better understand the vestiges of the encomienda system and land ownership
  • Immerse in Ecuador’s colonial history by touring the cathedrals and museums of Quito’s Old Town
  • Strengthen Spanish language skills while conversing in markets, villages, and schools
  • Study glaciology while traversing Peruvian mountain passes of the Cordillera Blanca
  • Interpret the mysteries of the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu with a traditional healer and anthropologist
  • Ascend glaciers with crampons and ice axes in Bolivia’s Cordillera Real
  • This semester is for you if you like: mountains, color, hiking, rugged terrain, community interaction, villages, Spanish, art, children, and cooperative spirit.


Traveling School English courses are designed to provide students with critical reading and writing skills, while they benefit from the uniqueness of our environment. Designed to expose students to an assortment of local and regional authors, and selected works, literature requirements include novels, short stories, folklore, non-fiction and poetry. This course combines reading with a rigorous writing workshop to develop writing skills. Students will maintain a series of portfolios and daily journal entries. Students are expected to write an average of three times per week, and to produce three major compositions including an analytical essay as well as other genre-focused essays relating to novels taught during the semester. All students write and take responsibility for their writing through the use of journals, revision, peer editing, and portfolio techniques. 

In South America, students read three fiction novels written by highly acclaimed Latin American authors. Possible novels this semester include: House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende, The Queen of Water by Laura Resau, Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel or Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. Several alternate selections will be available for readers of different levels, or if a student has already read a particular book. Students read a variety of short stories, plays, non-fiction, essays, and poetry.

This course begins with the question, “What is History?” and an assessment on prior understanding of the South American continent. Students then learn to see everyone and everything around them as their resources, embarking on interview projects. The course covers pre-Columbian, Inca, colonial, post-colonial, and contemporary time periods. After an overview of the colonial history, a history of domination and resistance, the course explores contemporary political forces in Latin America through varying lenses: land reform in Ecuador, The Shining Path in Peru, the Cochabamba Water Revolt in Bolivia, and the interplay between race, class, and ethnicity in these post-colonial nations. Throughout the course, the north/south economic, socio-political relationship is examined.

This course is designed to enhance student’s understanding of the natural systems that surround us, both in our immediate surroundings and worldwide.  Through a hands-on interdisciplinary approach, students will use observation and inquiry skills to explore these surroundings and make connections.  As we become an increasingly global society, responsible for the planet and its environmental challenges, we need to develop the skills to critically assess problems and logically develop solutions.

Students will read selections from journal articles, textbooks and other scientific literature, attend guest lectures, and participate in in-class discussions and lectures.  With the varied environments of South America as your classroom, students will discover the value of observation and inference in science as we learn basic concepts of climatology, biology, oceanography, geology and ecology and explore applications of these sciences into environmental science, conservation biology, and sustainable development.

NOTE: The Traveling School cannot guarantee complete overlap between a student’s home high school math curriculum and Traveling School curriculum. Math curricula focus on the primary topics in each subject area. Our syllabi may vary slightly from each student’s home high school curriculum. Students must work with their schools to recognize these differences and, if necessary, be prepared to do any additional work necessary to stay on track with her home high school requirements.

*For a course to be offered, a minimum of three enrolled students is required. If the minimum is not met, we will work with the student to establish an independent study. See more information below about independent studies. 

*The Traveling School is currently revising its math course offerings. Beginning fall 2018 our math options may change to a more place-based, relevant class.

Algebra 2

Algebra 2 is a sequential curriculum that enables students to build the foundations for a strong understanding of higher level math.

Second Semester:

  • Polynomial Functions
  • Logarithms
  • Rational Functions
  • Radical Functions
  • Conic Sections
  • Probability & Statistics


Precalculus topics include advanced subjects in algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and other areas of mathematics. In addition to forming the foundation for study of calculus, the topics covered in this class have wide ranging applications in science, art, engineering, architecture, navigation and numerous other areas. These topics will help students understand the world in new ways while preparing you for a college level calculus class. Students will study concepts conceptually, analytically and graphically to gain an in depth knowledge and variety of problem solving tactics for a range of problem types.

Second Semester:

  • Review Trigonometric Functions and Analytical Trigonometry
  • Systems of Equations and Inequalities
  • Conic Sections and Analytic Geometry
  • Sequences, Induction, and Probability
  • Introduction to Calculus (time permitting)

Students are placed in one of three Spanish classes to develop Spanish language skills with an emphasis on conversation in and out of the classroom to engage in their surroundings. The goal of these courses is to teach students the fundamentals of linguistics and develop Spanish language skills through practice to communicate in Spanish-speaking countries.

Spanish is the primary language spoken in the classroom. Students are expected to improve their Spanish levels of reading, writing, speaking, and comprehension. Students learn and increase their fluency, with a combination of classroom lecture, grammar review, verb tenses, in-class discussion, instruction from native language speakers, dialogue with native speakers, and exercises in the community (for example, bargaining and buying fruit in a local market).

This Conversational Spanish course implements the Standards for Foreign Language Learning in the 21st Century from the National Standards in Foreign Language Education. The emphasis for this course is taught using the 5 C’s: Communication, Culture, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities.

This two-credit class is designed to be a thought-provoking, discussion-based forum that teaches and promotes critical thinking and helps students make connections between reoccurring themes, ideas, and concepts from the semester. The class has two primary focuses: first, this class uses multiple methods to provide students with critical thinking tools essential for higher level reasoning and critique; second, Global Studies uses an interdisciplinary and transnational framework to explore regional economic, political, social, and environmental issues in the developing world in order to better understand how globalization operates in our world today. The class is divided into multiple units centering on different themes pertinent to the region in which we are traveling. Class begins with an introduction to the region and a critical thinking unit and ends with a unit on Human Rights. Global Studies is always team-taught and is a required class for every Traveling School student; it is designed to be an academic and reflective space for the entire group to work through the complex questions that arise from traveling in the developing world.

The Traveling School is an all-encompassing experience and this course helps students understand and manage the demands of being an individual in a group setting. Physical Education (PE) & Independent Life Skills (iLife) is a 2-credit class that focuses on academic, physical and emotional successes and challenges. The PE component will help students develop strength and cardiovascular endurance. Being an active participant in PE will enable each student to be a productive member of the group and will help to keep the group physically healthy throughout the semester. Weekly iLife workshops will help students develop skills to become healthy, productive citizens who take responsibility for personal well-being, as well as a social responsibility for participating positively in the larger community around them. These workshops explore key aspects of communication and group dynamics to enable students to create positive, healthy relationships throughout life. The combination of PE & iLife will help students develop an awareness of balance and well-being. Throughout this 2-credit course, students will discover a combination of exercise, study and organization habits to achieve success while maintaining physical and emotional health.

PE component: 

  • Understand importance of proper warm up, cool down and stretch
  • Participate in 45-minute workouts (cardio, strength and yoga) five times a week
  • Quarterly reflection on overall physical performance and growth
  • Lead 1-2 group workouts

Independent Life component:

  • Weekly workshops: Self Care, Organization, Group Living, Healthy Lifestyle, Communication, Group Dynamics, Leadership, Managing Healthy Relationships, Stress, Transitions.


In the three and a half months I traveled through South America with the Traveling School, I learned more about myself and the world around me than all the expectations I had for that semester abroad. I will always remember it as one of the best times of my life, and the next adventure is waiting for you just around the corner.
TTS Student