So on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I have this 3 hour break in between my classes. My house is an hour away from my university, one way, so there isn’t really a point in me going home because I would spend two hours commuting to get back home and then back to school. So the first week, I did the logical thing any college student would do: I stayed at the university and basked in the beautiful sun (and due to the UV rays, turned about 50 shades of brown darker…) and took a SIESTA– kind of like a FIESTA (party)… except with your eyes closed.
The first week, I loved the whole concept of being able to just nap at school for hours. The USFQ campus is astounding– it was practically made for people to take naps there; they have a mini man-made lake, hammocks at the students’ disposal, and trees of all sorts planted strategically every 20 feet to create little shaded areas for the students to sit… or nap, in my case.
But after the first week, I decided there were probably more effective ways I could be managing my time… I shouldn’t just be sleeping away my four months here I have in Ecuador (on a side note, I feel like I have not already spent 1,814,400 seconds of my life here! That’s three weeks, for anyone without a calculator within near reach.) So my second week, I talked around and found a local children’s school to volunteer with!
Flash forward to week three, and I’m volunteering here already! The volunteer process here is a lot different than the United States… Basically anyone that’s reliable (me!) and also has a good word put in from someone they know (me again!) is eligible to be a volunteer. There aren’t 1498 pages of forms that need to be filled out in order to be considered for a volunteer interview. So now I’m volunteering at this wonderful children’s school… I think I’m actually working with the pre-pre-school-esque children. My kids are the “Girafitas” (Little Giraffes) and are 3 years old. There are also “Penguinos” (Little Penguins that are 4 years old) and “Ositos” (Little Pandas that are 5 years old). This is such a great opportunity and I’m so grateful that I stumbled upon it! I have the chance to go Back to the Basics, in the sense that I’m going to be back in the pre-elementary education environment… and I’m positive that I’ll learn more about the Ecuadorian’s culture/customs/language from working at this level with these children and teachers.
I still haven’t worked directly with the children, because they’re still integrating them into the whole education-system. This basically means the kids come for two hours the first week, stay three hours the second week, and stay the full day (until 12:30) the third week. And I don’t arrive until 10:30, so I haven’t gotten to see my little Girafitas yet because they’re already gone by the time I get there. Can’t wait to get to see them though and update you all on the good times with the kids!
On a closing note, as always, I do have something to say about FOOD! I went to a place to eat that was really close in proximity to the children’s school I volunteer at… whoa. They had an advertised price of $1.75 (USD, for those of you who think I’m talking Pesos) so I was expecting just some soup… and maybe like a piece of bread. Nope! They brought me a banana as an appetizer. Then a bowl of soup. Then a hybrid juice/smoothie to wash down what I just ate. Then rice. And salad. And a piece of chicken. I was shocked. I thought they were lying about the price… BUT THEY WEREN’T. Needless to say, I am going to keep volunteering, and I am going to keep going back there to get great lunch deals!
PS. Here is the link to the album with pictures of the school, scenery around the school (including the volcano!), and part of my delicious lunch!