LONG JOURNEY: INTERNATIONAL STUDENT AT JUNIATA COLLEGE FINDS OPPORTUNITY FAR FROM ECUADOREAN RAINFOREST HOME HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- In general, most college students consider it adventurous if they spend four years studying in another state. The journey to college for Robert Granja, a freshman international student at Juniata College from Ecuador, included a trip in a dugout canoe and a flight out of a South American rainforest. Granja, who grew up in a small village called Mondana situated along the Napo River, a tributary of South Americas mighty Amazon River, will spend his entire freshman year of college at Juniata. Although his home village in the middle of the Ecuadorean rainforest has a population of about 150, Granja finds the larger environs of the Juniata campus different, but welcoming. "Juniata is very big compared to where I studied before and the educational system is completely different." says Granja, who attended a government-run high school in Puerto Napo, a city of about 10,000. "In the Ecuadorean system, you memorize the lessons and you dont discuss things with the teacher or professor. "When I first came here I was afraid to talk at first because my English was not very good, but day by day I became more involved," he adds. "Since Juniata is not a big college I get to interact with many people and become more involved in student (activities)." The 19-year-old student considers himself lucky to be studying at Juniata because Ecuadors government is reluctant to grant visas to students studying abroad for more than one year. This policy is intended to induce talented Ecuadorean students to stay in their native country to work and build a career. Granjas own story of coming to Juniata is equal parts hard work and good luck. He attended the government-run school in Puerto Napo through high school and then returned to his village to participate in a new school created by the Yachana Foundation. Called Yachana Lodge, the school combines practical instruction in agronomy, animal husbandry, microenterprise businesses, conservation and tourism. Last year, several Juniata students who were studying abroad at St. Francis University in Quito, Ecuador visited the Yachana school in Mondana. The schools director established a connection with Juniata to encourage students to study in Huntingdon for a year. One of the students to visit the school, Nathan Anderson, a senior at Juniata from Denver, Colo., is now Granjas roommate. Granja also has a host family, Fred and Mary Kay Eichelman, of Huntingdon. "Most of the students in Ecuador go to school through eighth grade, but after that it becomes harder because you have to pay for food, books and other expenses. You have to hope for a scholarship," Granja explains. "I never thought it was possible to study at a college like Juniata, but I had a high level of English (fluency), so they chose me to come."