WHO WE ARE
Pachaysana is a collective of Ecuadorian and international educators, teaching artists, activist-academics, and community organizers. We seek to bring together our diverse knowledge and experiences to re-imagine and create just alternatives to the dominant models of education and community development through creative educational programming and balanced intercultural exchange.
WHAT WE DO
We believe that education is created, not received. We co-construct educational spaces of community, creation and celebration where conflicts are explored and transformed through dialogue among diverse voices, with the ultimate goal of collective liberation from individual and shared injustices. This dialogue is rooted in humanizing methodologies such as theater of the oppressed, popular education, decolonial education, and art for social change. We strive to constantly re-imagine what education and studying abroad can be, and how they can fuel struggles for social justice, through various educational programs, such as: semester-long study abroad, short-term study abroad, online workshops and webinars, and consultancies. We view ourselves as a bridge between local and global realities, theory and practice, and the university and the community. Local, Ecuadorian partner communities are key participants and co-creators of our programming.
Our name, Pachaysana, is the fusion of two Kichwa words: Pacha means World (Earth, or the continuum of Time & Space) and Aysana means Balance.
The name is indicative of our values: we seek to create a world in balance. For us, this world is rooted in justice and created through a collective process with all living beings. To create a more balanced world, we must first create more just and balanced relationships.
Pluriversality. We are co-designers of the pluriverse, where multiple ways of understanding the world, of knowing, and of being are valid and valued. We reimagine diversity as pluriversity, treating others as they want to be treated and celebrating marginalized voices.
Balance. We are constantly seeking balance, a creative process realized in interconnection with all living beings.
Justice. We seek to dismantle oppressions and create just alternatives. Our resistance is rooted in collective creation. We act in solidarity, recognizing that our struggles and movements are interwoven.
Celebration. We party in community. If there isn’t dancing, it isn’t revolution.
our Mission and Vision
M To reimagine education as a collective creation to foster liberation and unlearn embodied and systemic injustice
V To be a driving force in the minga* of interconnected community struggles, linking together the local and the global
for collective liberation
*Minga is an ancestral form of community work that originated in the Andes & is rooted in collective wellbeing and reciprocity, rather than monetary compensation. It comes from the Kichwa term, "Maki Puray" or "lending a hand."
Executive Director and Instructor
An educator, activist and artist, Daniel specializes in the use of participatory theatre as a means of education and conflict transformation. Originally from the United States, he has lived most of the last 20 years in Ecuador, where he has worked with Indigenous and other frontline communities in both rural and urban sectors. In addition to teaching regularly in Pachaysana’s Rehearsing Change program, he is an active scholar-practitioner of Participatory Action Research, for which he applies a narrative/arts-based approach to co-generating knowledge with local communities.
In addition to his work in Ecuador, he regularly lectures and leads workshops at universities across the United States, most often focusing on Decolonization, Epistemological Pluralism and Theatre for Social Change. He has been a scholar-in-residence at several institutions, most recently with Juniata College as a Baker Peace Fellow, and with Washington and Jefferson College as a Maxwell Scholar. He regularly teaches at the University San Francisco de Quito, and previously, he co-founded the internationally renowned cultural educational organization, Fundación Quito Eterno, and lectured/researched under a Fulbright Scholar Grant in Quito. He holds an MA in Education from the University of Tulsa and an MFA in Theatre from UCLA.
Resident Director and Instructor
Activist, educator, youth worker, and artist at heart, Chelsea Viteri was born and raised in Quito, Ecuador. She completed her undergraduate and graduate studies at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts with a major in Theater Arts and a minor in International Development. Her Masters’ degree is in Community Development and Planning.
A youth worker and community organizer for over 10 years, Chelsea has worked with diverse communities in both Ecuador and the United States, utilizing artistic expression, including theatre, music, poetry and documentaries, as a means for collective empowerment and creative conflict transformation. As scholar-practitioner, Chelsea is also active as a researcher. Her earlier work focussed on the gendered impacts of extractive industries in communities of Latin America. Currently she is leading Pachasyana's projects in Participatory Action Research as well as developing Pachaysana’s gender and intersectionality policy.
Daniel "Millague" Acosta
Community Coordinator and Instructor
Daniel was born in Ecuador, where his parents instilled upon him the importance of working with the communities of his country. A communication specialist, community activist, and defender of Mother Earth, Daniel’s mission is to work with the children and youth, sharing the wisdom of the communities' elders to help bring them into a more intimate relationship with the earth, agriculture and the protection of seeds.He lives in Santa Teresa de Pintag where his community projects crossover between art, liberation pedagogy and agro-ecology. He is currently carrying out a "Land Bank" project, which seeks to create a greater awareness of local identity and the preservation of ancestral lands in Píntag. Somewhat of an Andan renaissance-man, Daniel has studied, both formally and informally, Communication, Political Law, Global Education, Local Empowerment, Theatre, Film, Permaculture and Agroecology.
Daniel works closely with our partner communities to coordinate the Rehearsing Change program and provide support for our many grassroots development and education projects.He also coordinates aspects of our coursework, assuring that they are effectively applied to community needs. Finally, Daniel assists with instruction in our Identity and Place and Design and Evaluation of Projects courses, which are currently based on working with theories of permaculture.
María Belén Noroña
Belén was born and raised in Quito, Ecuador. She is a scholar, activist, and educator with over ten years of experience working with rural and indigenous communities in social development and educational projects in Ecuador. She has a Ph.D. in Human Geography with research interests in indigenous territories, the pressures of oil and mining extraction over rural land, and race and gender discrimination. She has taught for Beloit College, The University of Oregon, and the Universidad San Francisco de Quito. Belén is a co-founder of the Pachaysana Institute and the Quito Eterno Foundation, and she has been involved in the production of formal and popular educational methodologies for both organizations.
Belén currently works as a post-doctoral Mellow Foundation Fellow at the Center of Environmental Futures (CEF) at the University of Oregon. Her research is geared towards a better understanding of race and gender violence in the Amazon region. As the Research Coordinator with Pachaysana, Belén is applying her research to Pachaysana’s educational model and will be making the results widely available to both U.S college students and rural communities in Ecuador. This collaboration includes the participation of students and community members in activist research, and it also focuses on improving teaching methodologies among Pachaysana educators.