Select Page


El Otro Lado: Considering the Impact of Education Abroad on Host Families in Cuenca, Ecuador


By focusing on the impacts on students, research on education abroad has been largely one-sided. In contrast, anthropological research indicates that cross-cultural encounters in the context of tourism (especially the cultural variety) lead to impacts on both hosts and guests. Therefore, the author contends that education abroad needs to consider the host perspective as well. To that end, this study takes the perspective of host families in Cuenca, Ecuador, and asks questions about why locals decide to host foreign students, what occurs in the host family-student encounter, and whether host families perceive a sociocultural impact.

Fieldwork involved participant-observation, key consultants, and semi-structured interviews with both hosts and guests, as well as an extensive review of the literature on education abroad and tourism. Through ethnographic analysis focusing on fictive kinship and economic exchange, the findings suggest that education abroad has various sociocultural (and economic) impacts on host families, especially children. Of these, some are temporary in nature, while others are more durable.


Peterson, Søren M. “El Otro Lado: Considering the Impact of Education Abroad on Host Families in Cuenca, Ecuador.” Master’s thesis, University of Denver, 2007.