Posts Tagged ‘MSID Ecuador’

h1

Sara: My last post!

January 6, 2012

So this is my last blog post! I leave from Cochabamba  tonight and I will be spending my night in the La Paz airport. Then I leave from La Paz at 7a the next morning and arrive in Minnesota late at night; it’s going to be a long day but I am definitely excited to see everyone.

Being abroad has taught me so many things! There were good times and bad times, but overall, this experience has made me such a better person. I was able to reflect on all the things most important to me and was out of my comfort zone a lot of the time, but that was the only way I learned so much about myself.

I just want to thank everyone for following my blog, checking up on me and making sure I don’t get lost in the jungles of South America. I also want to thank all my family and friends for being there for me through this entire journey.

h1

Hilary: 6 months has come to an end

December 30, 2011

So I am back in the United States after a twelve hour plane journey from Quito to Chicago I was picked up from the airport by the lovely Kendal Ann (Cupcake) and my mom.  I found my self stuttering with English and thanking the people that got me through customs in Spanish.  It is always great to come home, but weird at the same time.  I had a really wonderful experience abroad.  I am most proud of my language improvement and my academic work,  this study abroad program has advantages and disadvantages but i know that my monograph with serve me very well for future research proposals and grants.  I will miss saying ‘buen provecho’ and ‘que te vaya bien!’  I will be practicing my Spanish every chance that I get and I will hopefully stay in contact with the wonderful friends that I made.

Reflecting on my experiences I am bringing back a better sense of what sharing is, the knowledge that money really doesn’t matter (this one is hard to find in the states and in my perspective needs a lot of reflection), and i recognize that time moves quickly wherever you are so go with your gut and enjoy yourself.

I am still standing on both feet trying to find my balance in life; balancing the spiritual with the physical and mental, the spiced with the bland, peace with chaos, and work with play.

I missed all of my friends and family dearly, I can’t wait to truly reconnect and put my changing link back into my growing circle.

h1

Sara: Christmas in Bolivia

December 28, 2011

I hope everyone had an awesome Christmas and are looking forward to the New Year! I spent my Christmas in Santa Cruz with my host family and extended host family. Here they open presents and do Christmas at midnight, 12a on the 25th. It was pretty cool to be part of another culture’s Christmas, but I definitely missed home a ton! 

I am finally back in Cochabamba now though finishing my last 2 weeks abroad. The trip back here was awful, 11 hour bus ride in the sweltering heat, although I can’t believe how fast this has all gone by!

I am super happy to be back in Cochabamba though, I really love my volunteer position here, I am working with the elderly and mostly I just hang out and hold their hands while they talk to me. Today I learned that Bolivianos (the currency) are used ALL OVER the world, including on the moon!  I hear some of the wildest things, usually we talk about where I am from and how long my hair is and that I should never cut it (at the center they specialize in Alzheimer’s and dementia) so we talk about the same thing every day. I love the old people though and the staff are great too!

I also am having a great time teaching English to the 13-year-old girl here named Sophie.  I am also thinking about visiting an orphanage here for a day too where I would just hang out and play games, helping the staff there.  I still have to talk to my supervisor here and get that set up for next week sometime.

h1

Chelsea: Why is everyone speaking English?

December 20, 2011

I am officially back at home in Illinois!

Last week my parents came to visit me in Ecuador – and despite some major problems with flights, we had a great week!

After finally picking them up at the airport, we headed back to stay with my host family in Quito! On Saturday, we went with my mom & brother around to different sites in Quito – we visited Mitad del Mundo (the Equator), the Basilica, and the historic center and on Sunday headed 2 hours north to Otavalo to visit the artisan market and the impressive waterfalls in Peguche. I had a great few days showing them my daily life in Quito and translating the conversations between my two families! We also visited my school on Monday and went up the mountain in a cable car. 

On Tuesday, we left for the Galápagos Islands to take a 4-day boat tour of a few of the northern islands. We had a fantastic trip! We visited a few islands, but got to see sea lions, giant tortoises, lizards, iguanas, crabs, and penguins and snorkel with sea lions, tropical fish, jelly fish, and sharks! An amazing experience with beautiful scenery and playful animals. We stayed on a small boat with only 5 other people and had a great time getting to know our boat-mates from Canada and Germany!

When we got back on Friday, we spent a final night with my family in Quito and went to La Ronda in the historic center to walk around, listen to some music, and drink some warm wine to celebrate my dad’s birthday!

Unfortunately on Saturday, we got delayed leaving Quito over 6 hours which caused us to miss our connection in Miami. After much time spent in the airport, we finally flew out (luckily) early Sunday morning and got home at about 4:00am…our bags got home over 30 hours later. But, despite the travel headaches, it was a fantastic last week in Ecuador and it feels good to be home! It’s weird hearing only English, throwing toilet paper in the toilet, and not eating rice everyday…but overall, it’s great to be home with a tiny bit of snow & I’m excited for the holidays! 

h1

Sara: Last day in Quito

December 8, 2011

So these are my last days in Quito and Ecuador.  I moved back from Otavalo last Saturday and had the opportunity to meet my dad’s boss (the one from the U. S.) and he gave me a bunch of goodies from my parents which was awesome!

But, here in Quito I have finished my paper, turned out to be a total of 40 pages and I get to present everything I have learned from my internship on Friday, which should just be super fun. Then I fly out of Quito at 8pm on Saturday, I will be spending the night in the Peru airport for a 10-hour layover and then off to Bolivia on Sunday morning.  Once in Bolivia I will have to get a visa and another plane ticket to Cochabamba where my volunteering will take place.

I can’t believe this has all gone by so fast, but yet I have one more part of my journey to complete! I hope everything is going well back at home and I miss everyone tons, also I attached a few pictures of my last days here just for fun! 

Taxilago on our way back to Quito Last night in Otavalo The hummingbirds for the festival Me and my host family in Quito 

h1

Hilary: 7 days left!

December 6, 2011

Yes, 7 days left of my 6 months abroad!  I am currently back in Quito taking a break from writing my final term project.  Last week was a whirlwind of feelings, celebrations, and fun.  There was a big celebration at school on Friday to send me off.  I was showered in flowers, dancing, and many thanks.  I had a great experience teaching at Nazacota Puento and learned a lot about teaching in rural areas.  I know that my experience has helped me identify a lot of my strengths and weaknesses as a teacher, and shown me that i have a critical but hopeful view of education.

On Thursday I held a meeting with all of the teachers in the school to talk about my experience at the school as a student teacher, and to share my point of view.  We talked about working as a team, using and reusing resources, sharing their successes and challenges as teachers, working better with the families of the students, and how to better the quality of education with the tools that they have.

I am writing my term thesis on the quality of education in rural ecuador and how pedagogy affects quality of education.  I am also commenting on how in general there is inequality in education as far as quality and how this inequality reflects the inequality seen in society as far as living circumstances and the valorization of life.

h1

Chelsea: Thanksgiving in Quito

November 27, 2011

I spent this weekend at “home” in Quito with my family – all in all, it was a fantastic weekend and just what I needed 🙂

On Thursday, our school held a Thanksgiving celebration for all of the students here. It wasn’t quite the same – but it was a nice thought and a great time to reunite with friends. It was held in a nice banquet room and everyone brought a dish to share! I attempted to make apple crisp, and despite a few different ingredients, it surprisingly turned out better than expected! Right after eating a lot (mashed potatoes and turkey!!! …and some not-so-traditional Thanksgiving food), the music started and I was grabbed to dance as I was still chewing dessert! Quite the change from the sweatpants and football game. So, we danced the night away and had a lot of fun!

The Thanksgiving feast!

My family definitely rocking the dance floor 🙂

The next morning there was a band competition between the neighborhoods here, that of course started at 5am right behind my house! A little later, at a normal hour, I went with my aunts and the kids from the daycare to go watch! It was a lot of fun, especially dancing with the little kids – adorable 🙂 And, our band won so we were even on the news that afternoon!

Also, later that night around 8:00, there was an Earthquake in Quito! It happened about 45 minutes from us and was magnitude 4…and I definitely felt it! My whole house shook for almost a minute – such a weird feeling!

Yesterday, I attended a “school program” for my brother Pablo. I was expecting a meeting at the school…and that was definitely wrong. We went to one of the students’ houses and basically had a party! We all danced (even the YMCA), played some intense musical chairs (where you eliminate chairs, but just sit on other people), tug of war (with a pool in the middle), and more dancing! So much for just the afternoon – we were there for about 7 hours (1 of which was the actual “meeting” of the parents between dances)

…musical chairs 🙂

All in all, it was a fantastic weekend here at home in Quito. Now, I’m heading back to Latacunga for my last week of my internship and on Friday, I’ll be back in Quito for my last week of the program! I absolutely cannot believe I will be home in just 3 weeks – this semester has flown by so fast! I’m excited to see family & friends and be home for the holidays…but I’m definitely not ready to leave Ecuador nor return to reality…

h1

Chelsea: Internship in Latacunga

November 24, 2011

Hello to all and a Happy Thanksgiving!

For the past few weeks I have been living in Latacunga and doing an internship at a cooperative that works in microfinance. Unfortunately, there isn’t internet in my house there and I haven’t had very many chances to use the internet! It’s a nice break from technology, but at the same time is driving me nuts being so disconnected from the world!!

For the last few weeks, I’ve been observing my co-workers in the office and learning about micro finances as well as visiting some clients in surrounding communities that are applying for loans. It’s been a great experience thus far and I can’t believe I only have one more week of work left! I’ve really enjoyed leaving the office and being able to visit a few local communities. Without fail, we always receive some type of food from clients – everything from cheese to guinea pig to milk straight from the cow to a coconut with two straws….oh, el campo.

Other than that, I’ve been spending time with my family in Latacunga and was able to meet my mom & sister that return on the weekends from Quito. Mostly, we eat. I’ve had the chance to try any and every type of food available…empanadas, giant meat kabobs, cow intestines…ya know, the usual.

Currently, I’m back in Quito for the rest of the week! We had a few lectures today and tomorrow have a Thanksgiving celebration for all of the students here! It definitely won’t be the same, but I’m looking forward to it none-the-less. I can’t say how good it feels to be back in Quito. It definitely felt strange walking to class today for the first time in nearly a month…but honestly, it felt like coming home.

On Sunday I’ll go back to Latacunga to finish up my internship, and then it’s back to Quito next Friday for my last week here! There are huge celebrations that week in Quito, so I’m looking forward to a fun week….and of course finishing my 25-page final paper. Yikes. Wish me luck.

h1

Hilary: life in Cotacachi

November 22, 2011

Many weeks have passed here in Cotacachi.  I have spent a lot of time with family, friends and students.  I have exactly three weeks left in Ecuador, one full week here in Cotacachi and two more in Quito.  My English classes have been getting better with every class and with every name I remember of my students.  I have enjoyed classes with sixth, eighth and ninth grades the most, but have also had fun moments with the three year olds and the younger grades as well.  I have been trying to keep track of my monographia that I need to write as my final project in Ecuador but as usual have easily filled my time with good people and great experiences.  I am in the middle of an interview process with students, parents and teacher about the value of education and about the English language in schools in Ecuador, specifically in San Pedro.  Along with my research project I am hoping to leave the school my materials, summary of what I have done, and had hoped to do as well as suggestions for the future.

Ok, so what have I actually been doing?  I helped our students prepare the national anthem to sing for the inauguration of an ambassador of Ecuador who is from Cotacachi; I’ve been spending a lot of time with my mom going to the gym, going to dance sessions after the gym; making cookies with my host-sister; traveling to Otavalo with co-teachers for beers; spending time with friends in Ibarra, going on dancing on the weekends with my host-brother Santi; planning classes; avoiding young men; missing my friends and family at home; getting sick from bad water; and learning Kichwa.

Yesterday I climbed Imbabura (volcano) with my host-dad, host-sister Jhose, and younger host-brother Gabriel.  I was expecting it to be a bit tough since I am pretty out of climbing shape, but it turned out a lot harder than expected.  It took us a full six and a half hours to ascend and descend!  Gabriel basically ran all of the way up, my host-dad was completely fine at whatever pace, I was hanging in there, but Jhose, who is 13, had never hiked like this before and therefore took frequent brakes and drank a lot of water.  I put sunblock on my face once every two hours and still got sun-burned, the sun is so strong here!

So I have an obsession with mangos, but it’s finally Mango season here in Ecuador and I couldn’t be happier because the mangos couldn’t be sweeter!  Also, I love eating watermelon in November, especially when it is refreshing, sweet and not snowing outside!

This past week all of the teachers in the area of Cotacachi in rural school such as San Pedro were obligated to take a course to enhance their teaching and knowledge about social issues.  The issue of the week was sex, gender and sensitivity to how we as teachers express gender preference in the classroom.  Well none of the information was new to me, but the answers, comments and questions asked during the past week were culturally shocking to me.  Some of my “favorites” were: menstruation is a sickness, when girls are pregnant or menstruating they are dirty and will cause many problems, women automatically love their homes, the Spanish language isn’t sexist, our wives aren’t able to think in terms of money, I don’t let my wife go out with her friends because other men look at her, well the bible says women are supposed to be obedient and always obey the owner… and so on.  Well I did my best to add in my point of view and upbringing calmly and with patience, but there were definitely times when I either couldn’t say anything at all or I would almost jump out of my chair with frustration.  Anyway, by the end of the week some new ideas were considered about gender and sex and some minds were opened to the possibilities of equality and respect.

I’m sure there is more, but once again, I need to go write a paper!

h1

Sara: busy week in Otavalo

November 21, 2011

I figured I would update everyone on whats going on in life right now, it seems like its been awhile! I am still at my internship in Otavalo in the Hospital, I have been observing doctors and nurses in Emergency, Surgery, Gynecology, and the Birthing Center and I will be going to Internal Medicine and Pediatrics in the next 2 weeks then I head back to Quito for a week then off to Bolivia! Time is sure flying by!

This week was crazy, a friend and I did tons of things! On Tuesday we went to an indigenous healing center where we got “cleaned with an egg.”  The egg is used in indigenous medicine to diagnose illnesses, my cleaning said that I have a little pain, but other than that I was a very healthy person. We also hiked up to an exposition building that is shaped like a hummingbird (the national bird), but we got to see a lot of original artwork by an artist from Otavalo.

This weekend though a friend and I stayed in Otavalo instead of traveling to see all that we could here. On Friday we went out to dinner and then to my host dad’s birthday party where we sat and talked forever with my host family and friends. Then we woke up at the crack of dawn (6a) to go the animal market.  Here all the people come from all around the city and country to sell their animals, there were tons of pigs, bunnies, puppies, chickens, roosters, cows, calfs, bulls, guinea pigs, cats, ducks, llamas, alpacas, goats… everything! I have a few pictures attached. Then after that we went to the food market and the artisan market where we got some more souvenirs and did a little people watching. It was a great time!

On Sunday Shelby and I went to a laguna, which a lake formed by a volcanic crater.  We even took a boat ride around the lake and learned all about it. It was really beautiful to see, we hiked to the top of one of the nearby hills to get a great view of the lake.  To get there we took a camioneta, which is a pick-up truck taxi where we sat in the bed of the truck. It was fun! After that we went to this little house on the outskirts of Otavalo where we got full body massages, it was amazing.

This coming week I am only in Otavalo for 2 days, I head back to Quito on Tuesday night for a workshop at my school and then I am heading to Cuenca, a little artisan city in Ecuador for Thanksgiving. I am super excited, it is the last place I wanted to travel to while I am here! 

Jambi Huasi - The egg cleaning The Hummingbird building Animal Market - Guinea Pigs Animal Market - Cattle Animal Market - Llamas Animal Market - Ducks Animal Market - Carrying Chickens Animal Market Food Market Meat Market Artisan Market - Jewelry  Lake - Shelby and I Lake Lake - on the hike 

%d bloggers like this: