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Emergency Plan, Policies and Compliance

The Andes and Amazon Field School (henceforth AAFS) where these policies apply is a Summer FLAS (Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships)  Kichwa Language program held in Napo Province, Ecuador for 6 weeks each summer.  AAFS enjoys academic sponsorship from Title VI National Resource Centers at The University of Pittsburgh, The University of Wisconsin Madison, Brigham Young University, the University of Florida, and Florida International University.  All AAFS FLAS Fellows are enrolled through the University of Pittsburgh.  Exceptions are made for FLAS Fellows funded by Florida International University who enroll through that university.   


Title IX Statement of Compliance

The Andes and Amazon Field School seeks the well being, safety, and equal opportunity of all of our students and staff.  In keeping with Title IX regulations, the Andes and Amazon Field School strictly prohibits all unlawful sexual harassment, bullying, or discrimination by gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation.  


If students encounter an incident of harassment, bullying, or discrimination they should immediately inform Dr. Tod Swanson, Dr. Janis Nuckolls, or directly to Oksana Stalczynsky, the designated University of Pittsburgh Study Abroad Officer.  Once an incident has been reported, Dr. Swanson will promptly call the Study Abroad Office at the University of Pittsburgh who will help to determine whether and how the incident should be reported to the relevant Title IX Officer.   AAFS will then follow instructions in keeping with standard Title IX procedures.   An incident report will  be submitted to the Associate Director of the Center where the student is enrolled.  Students may also directly contact the Title IX office at the University where they are enrolled:  Pittsburgh Title IX Office at the University of Pittsburgh. 

The policies that govern relations between students or between students and faculty and staff at AAFS are the same as those governing similar relations at the university where the student is enrolled.  Students may find these policies in the student handbook of the university where they enroll.  Faculty and staff are strictly prohibited from engaging in sexual behavior with students or staff for whom they have a supervisory relation.   In general, sexual relations are prohibited in situations where there is an imbalance of power in the relation constraining the ability to freely give consent. 


The context of the AAFS differs from the campus environment in the US in that it is an indigenous language program held in an indigenous community where there is an underlying power imbalance between students and community members.    AAFS facilitates a wide variety of learning encounters with indigenous community members for which members may or may not be compensated.  These include native language interviewees, native speakers for language practice, occasional guides for forest hikes, indigenous women with whom they learn native recipes or ceramic arts, community members with whom they play soccer or whose homes they visit for interviews.


Most AAFS participants are American graduate students aspiring to university research careers while the community members with whom they engage have much more limited educational opportunities and are living in financially precarious situations which could be alleviated through friendships with foreign researchers.   This creates a power imbalance.  Because of this power imbalance as well as the very different cultural contexts of consent, AAFS strongly discourages participants from entering into sexual relations with community members for the duration of the program over which it has jurisdiction  


Emergency Plan


An emergency is any circumstance that poses a genuine risk to or that has already disturbed the safety and well-being of program participants. Emergencies include the following: 


  • Any other unforeseen circumstance that puts the group in danger, including:

  • Hospitalization or emergency-room care

  • Serious illness (physical or emotional) or death 

  • Disappearance or kidnapping 

  • A violent crime, sexual assault, or rape

  • A natural disaster, terrorist attack, or civil unrest 

  • Arrest, incarceration, deportation 

  • Family emergency 



  1. Director Tod Swanson is responsible for executing this contingency plan should the need arise.

  2. The Study Abroad Office at the University where the student is enrolled for the program will be responsible for managing any contingency responses that can be addressed from the United States. 

  3. Faculty enrolled in AAFS are responsible for complying with this directive and all others issued by AAFS. All participants will receive information on local health risks and are encouraged to review the U.S. Center for Disease Control web site on the region at It is the responsibility of the participant to obtain vaccinations, prescription medication, over-the-counter medication, and the like prior to departure for Ecuador.   Participants are also required to have travel health insurance that cover emergency evacuation, accidental death or dismemberment, and repatriation of remains. 

  4. Participants must advise Director Tod Swanson of any condition that requires medication. This information will be kept confidential. Medications must be carried in carry-on luggage.

  5. Before departure, all participants must provide AAFS with copies of their passports, two emergency contacts, and insurance information. Participants must also sign a liability release form prior to traveling to Ecuador.

  6. On the first day of the program Field School administrators will hold an orientation informing students of Title IX, emergency, and risk management policies.

  7. All participants are required to participate in customized Pre-Departure Orientations delivered by AAFS.

General Security Procedures

These procedures apply to all health-related issues, physical threats (such as extreme events or civil unrest), physical injury, or any other unforeseen circumstances that may affect AAFS participants.

  • AAFS will inform the U.S. Embassy in Quito of the annual program: U.S. Embassy Quito, EcuadorAddress: VG6J+GXG, Av. Avigiras, Av. Eloy Alfaro E12-170 y, Quito 170124, Ecuador.  Phone: +593 2-398-5000

  • The AAFS Director will keep the FLAS Fellows informed of health and physical threats in the areas they will visit. To assist this effort, he will rely on the latest security notices from the U.S. Embassy in Quito. 

  • The Tena area has trained first responders who provide emergency assistance by ambulance, helicopter, or water rescue as needed. In case of an accident or emergency, students should immediately notify Dr. Tod Swanson who will call first responders at 911 and follow directions of local police and first responders. (In case Dr. Swanson is not immediately available students should contact  Dr. Janis Nuckolls or Field School on site administrator Pamela Tapuy).  The AAFS Director will then coordinate contingency responses with the Study Abroad Director at the University of Pittsburgh as well as with the Associate Director of the Title VI Center that funds the student and the student’s primary and secondary emergency contacts.  

  • In case of fire or earthquake students should exit the buildings following marked exit routes to clear outside areas and then proceed toward the reception area where they will receive directions.

  • In case of political unrest, road or airport closures, crime or arrest, Field School Director Tod Swanson will notify the sponsoring Title VI National Resource Centers and follow direction from their respective risk management specialists.  If deemed appropriate the relevant University Study Abroad risk management officer will contact the US Embassy in Quito or the consulate of the country of which the student is a citizen.  

  • If emergency evacuation to the United States or the student’s home country is needed a faculty or staff member will accompany the participant to the nearest airport to assist with emergency evacuation. The Study Abroad Officer at the university where the student is enrolled will assist in the evacuation arrangements and notification of next of kin as required.


Security-Related Code of Conduct

To facilitate individual safety while in Ecuador, the following code of conduct is in effect.​

  • All participants should read the latest U.S. State Department information sheet on Ecuador available at for an overview of the security situation. If at any time participants have concerns for their safety, they should immediately notify the program administrator.​

  • If at any time a student fears for their safety they should immediately notify AAFS Director Tod Swanson or the Study Abroad Officer at the university where they enrolled for the program.

  • All participants are required to stay on campus Monday through Thursday nights.  Students are free to travel around the country on weekends at their own expense and risk.  If they choose to do so they must sign a waiver before they leave.  

  • Participants are strongly discouraged from being out alone at night.   If students go into town at night they should do so in groups and return to the Field School by 11 PM.   After that time gates will be locked.

  • Participants are expected to cooperate with one another and with trip service providers and co-leaders at all times. AAFS and Sponsoring Title VI Centers will not be liable for consequences resulting from the failure to adhere to trip rules. All policies have been designed to ensure the safety of participants. Failure to follow program policies may result in dismissal from the program at cost to the participant. Itinerary is subject to modifications at any time.

  • Participants are reminded that certain comforts may not be available in the rural setting of the AAFS.  Although electricity, internet, and cellphone service are generally available students may experience electrical blackouts, and there may be days when these are slow or not readily available.  In these instances the Director will have a backup satellite phone to maintain any needed contact with the sponsoring Title VI Centers.. 

  • Participants are advised to follow standard IRB guidelines when interviewing or taking photos of people while in Ecuador.

  • Participants are subject to all local laws and regulations as well as student, faculty and staff codes of conduct at the University of Pittsburgh, their home universities as well as those of the universities where they are enrolled for credit or funded.

  • AAFS is not responsible for theft or damage to student iPads, laptops, or camera equipment. 

  • Smoking is not allowed on the premises of the Andes and Amazon Field School campus.  Smokers are asked to refrain from smoking while with the group en route, at meals, or any other gathering that is part of the program.  

  • Illegal Drugs:  Use of any controlled substance is strictly prohibited.

  • Dorm Rooms:  Students may not invite community members, staff, or anyone not enrolled in the program to their dorm rooms. 

  • Arrival and Departure Times and Travel:   The AAFS program begins at the Field School in Napo Province with the evening meal on Sunday June 10th and ends there with the Midday meal on Friday July 19th, 2024. Students are responsible for their own travel to and from the AAFS.  FLAS Fellows frequently visit family or friends or carry out research in Ecuador before or after the program.  As a result they arrive from and depart to different parts of the country.  However AAFS provides a courtesy hotel room near the airport on Friday evening June 8 and a courtesy chartered bus that leaves from the hotel to the AAFS on the morning of June 9.  Similarly a courtesy chartered bus will leave AAFS for the airport at 2 PM on Friday July 19th.  Students who wish to take advantage of the courtesy arrival hotel and bus Quito-AASF-Quito should inform AAFS administrator Pamela Tapuy at least a week in advance of the travel date.

  • Release Forms:  When the program ends students will sign a release of liability form.  After that point, students may continue to travel or carry out research in the country under their own responsibility.  

  • Failure to follow the code of conduct could result in a participant’s dismissal from the program and an early return to the United States or their home country. In consultation with the Center Director and Study Abroad Officer of the University where the student is enrolled for the program the AAFS Director will decide when violations of the code of conduct require a participant to be sent back to the United States or their home country. Participants who leave the group early due to misconduct or who otherwise depart the Andes and Amazon Field School without completing the program may be financially responsible for all expenses associated with the program.




  • Participants are required to show proof of health insurance that covers accidental death and dismemberment, emergency evacuation, and repatriation of remains. Insurance should be sourced through the University of Pittsburgh Office of Study Abroad or through the Study Abroad office of the university where they are enrolled..

  • Participants are required to follow immunization policy in accordance with US and Ecuadorian law, and are encouraged to visit the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website for additional information. 

  • Prior to the departure, participants should inform AAFS Director Tod Swanson of any medications being taken. Such information will be confidential. Participants should inform the program administration of any allergies.  

  • Participants should drink bottled water. 

  • Participants are strongly encouraged to speak with their personal healthcare providers to request any additional guidance regarding health-related precautions, risks, or preventive measures deemed appropriate or necessary.

  • For non-emergency medical needs call: Galenus- Clínica de Especialidades in Tena at 011-593-960-536-261.   Same day and walk-in appointments are generally available. 

  • For dental needs call:  Go Dental in Tena at 011-593-999-080-073

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