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Learn Kichwa!

FLAS Indigenous Language Courses  June 5-July 21, 2023
Sponsored by
University of Wisconsin at Madison

Brigham Young University

University of Florida

Florida International University
University of Pittsburgh

Ecuadorian Kichwa, Achuar, and Wao Tedero Language Courses

We offer graduate level intensive language courses in Amazonian Kichwa, Wao Tedero, and Achuar.  These courses are funded by FLAS Fellowships (Foreign Language and Area Studies) from the US Department of Education.  Each summer 12-15 graduate FLAS Fellows attend the Field School.   219 Fellows from more than 40 universities have attended to date.  More than just language however, we seek to give our graduate students the linguistic and cultural skills they need to do cutting edge research with indigenous communities.  This includes logistical support for graduate thesis research, mentoring, networking, assistance in obtaining funding and jobs is their fields.  Sitting around the fire with each other, faculty, and indigenous colleagues they develop enduring friendships. These relationships allow them to serve as living bridges between the academic and indigenous worlds over a lifetime.   Many alumni become influencers who not only carry out collaborative projects in the Amazon but also help others to see the critical importance of Amazonian culture and to invest in it accordingly.


Institution: Andes and Amazon Field School, Sponsored by the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Florida International University, the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Florida.

Language Levels:  Ecuadorian Kichwa (beginning, intermediate, and advanced); Wao Tedero (beginning); Achuar/Shiwiar (beginning)

Dates: June 5 – July 14, 2023 

Location: Napo Province Ecuador

Levels:  Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced

Contact hours:  The program offers 140 contact hours of intensive instruction spread over 6 weeks.  Students are evaluated upon entry and again upon completion of the course using the IRIS testing instruments provided by the USDE. All students receive grades for courses. 

Cost: $7500 (Broken down as $5000 Academic Program fee + $2500

Program Summary:  FLAS Eligible Amazonian Kichwa is taught in English by Professors Tod D. Swanson, (Arizona State University), Armando Muyulema, (University of Wisconsin at Madison), Nely Shiguango and Bélgica Dagua.  In addition to teaching grammar, vocabulary, the Kichwa language is used as an anthropological linguistic window into Amazonian culture and worldview.  The class frequently goes into the forest with traditional elders to learn about plants and animals in Kichwa. Origin stories and songs to species are recorded in Kichwa and translated in class. As ability in Kichwa improves students formulate their own research questions in Kichwa. While studying Kichwa students also receive a grounding in Amazonian cultural thinking about the environment from top experts in the field. The program includes a 4 day canoe trip into the Waorani territory with Kichwa native speakers.  Students make lasting contacts with native communities for future dissertation work. Life changing for many.


To apply to the Andes and Amazon Field School:  Please email or call Tod Swanson,

480 276-5913 (no appointment needed).  When you call Tod Swanson he will approve your application over the phone if you meet the basic requirements. We accept all graduate students in good standing.  To be funded, however, you must apply for a FLAS.   After you call Prof. Swanson he will email your FLAS granting Center for Latin American Studies to inform them that you have been admitted to the Field School for the study of Kichwa.

Eligibility for FLAS:  To be eligible for a FLAS Fellowship you must be: 1) a US citizen or legal resident; and 2) enrolled in a graduate program of an kind or level.  For graduate students no previous knowledge of Kichwa is necessary.   Undergraduates who have had 1 previous year or intensive summer of Kichwa may also apply.

Where to apply for FLAS:   If you are enrolled in one of the FLAS granting institutions listed below apply through your own university by clicking the link.   To increase your chances of being funded you may apply to more than one university.   If you are not enrolled in a FLAS granting university you may apply for FLAS through our sponsoring institutions: University of Wisconsin Madison, University of Pittsburgh, and Florida International University.   


FLAS Granting Centers for Latin American Studies 2023-2027

       Brigham Young University  November 15, 2022
       Columbia University- NYU Deadline: Wednesday, February 1, 2023, 11:59 pm (EST) 
       Florida International University  January 1, 2023
       Indiana University  February 14, 2023
       Stanford University  February 15, 2023
       The Ohio State University       The Center for Latin American Studies will begin accepting applications for its Summer 2023 Foreign Language           and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship competitions on Tuesday, November 1, 2022. The application deadline is Wednesday, February 1, 2023,            4:30 p.m. EST.
       University of Arizona   Deadline: March 12, 2023
       University of California, Berkeley  February 6, 2023.
       University of Florida     Application deadline:  February 3, 2023

       University of Georgia   Deadline: TBD (March 4, 2023? based on last year)
       University of Pittsburgh. Deadline: February 17, 2023
       University of Michigan   5 PM January 15, 2023
       University of North Carolina  Deadline February 10, 2023
       University of Texas   Deadline:  Applications open November 14, 2022, and close February 1, 2023.
       University of Utah    January 27, 2023

       University of Wisconsin at Madison   Application now open Deadline: February 14, 2023

       University of Wisconsin Milwaukee   Deadline: March 17, 2023
       Vanderbilt University  Deadline: TBD.  February 1, 2023


Tips for writing your Summer FLAS application statement:

1.  Begin by letting the reviewers know which approved FLAS eligible language program you will attend if funded.   Example: "I write to apply for a Summer FLAS to study Ecuadorian Kichwa (Quichua, Quechua) at the Andes and Amazon Field School

2.  Let the reviewers know that you meet the citizenship or US residency and and graduate enrollment qualifications eg.:   "I am a resident of the United State enrolled as a first year PhD student at Ohio State University"

 3.  Answer the question "Why is the study of Kichwa necessary for my thesis, dissertation, or course of study?

This is the most important part of your application statement.   Although Kichwa is important for basic communication it is usually not enough to simply write that you need to communicate with the subjects of your research because most Kichwa speakers are now bilingual in Spanish.  

Example of stronger reasons:    "My dissertation examines the experiences of Kichwa women engaging the national health care system.   I am convinced that women will express themselves more freely and with greater nuance if they do so in their own language.  For this reason recording oral narratives in Kichwa is central to my research."

4.  Let the reviewers know that (and how) you plan to use Kichwa over the length of your career.   Example: "Upon graduation I plan to apply for positions in Medical Anthropology and look forward to a productive career of teaching and research on Kichwa indigenous health in the Ecuadorian Amazon.  It is my expectation that Kichwa is a language skill that will serve me well throughout my career."

5. Briefly state your level of Spanish language competence and any previous experience of travel or study in Latin America.

6. Don't say that you plan to carry out dissertation research while on the FLAS as the FLAS is for full time language study.   While FLAS language study is preparatory for dissertation research the FLAS Fellowships cannot be used for the actual dissertation research. 



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Perhaps the best resource we have are our graduate students who are the emerging leaders in the field of Amazonian Studies.   Key to the life of Iyarina are the life long friendships graduate students form with each other, faculty, and with the native storytellers and artists who are in residence at the field school throughout the summer.  

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