T-minus 26 days until I fly to Quito, Ecuador to begin my journey serving on a Lumos award! This little country that sits on the equator line is home to 10% of the biodiversity in the world, 50 volcanoes, the Galapagos Islands, the Amazon, and the Andes. Quito, the capital city of Ecuador, is the second highest capital in the world at an altitude of 9,350 feet! I will be serving in the Chillos Valley, which is located about 40 minutes outside of Quito. As the city of Quito experiences rapid gentrification, disadvantaged families in the surrounding valleys are often the last to receive education, sanitation, and medical assistance. With a Lumos award, I will partner with the Manna Project to advance literary, run after-school programs, and provide educational support at the Manna Projects’ library and community center in Rumiloma, Ecuador. I will be responsible for running programs such as arts and crafts workshops, English language book clubs, and creative writing. I hope my programs connect Ecuadorian children to books and empower them with hope for a better future!
I can’t wait to see my new home in Sangolquí, Ecuador. I will be living in a shared volunteer house with 4 other Program Directors and a guard dog. The volunteer house has a communal style of living, so I will have to learn how to cook two nights a week for my fellow Program Directors! I intend to frequently go out to the community to meet locals and take the bus to Quito. Before I move into the volunteer house, I will spend one week with an Ecuadorian host family for orientation! During my first week, I will also attend mandatory Spanish school at an academy in Quito. Bring on the Spanish!
My trip is fast approaching! I am leaving only three weeks after my December graduation date! I have been getting into shape to better acclimate to the altitude when I arrive and collecting teaching and educational supplies to donate to the library. I can’t wait to see the Ecuadorian kids’ smiling faces when I pull my rainbow-colored parachute out of my suitcase! Some of my packing list includes: my books, hiking backpack, Spanish-English dictionary, altitude sickness pills, peanut butter, protein bars, and a printed copy of my thesis – I plan to translate it into Spanish during my free time in Ecuador. I’m going to be serving 40-hour weeks, so snacks, water bottles, and comfortable clothes will be essential!
This Lumos award is special to me because I will be serving on my second language, Spanish! I have been preparing by learning Ecuadorian Spanish slang and familiarizing myself with the linguistic phenomena and accent. A fun fact is that the form of Spanish spoken in Ecuador and Peru, Andean Spanish, is said to be the most clearly pronounced, purest Spanish in the world. My favorite slang word I’ve learned? “Chévere!” It means cool, great, or awesome. I plan to pursue a master program with licensure to become a Spanish teacher upon return to the United States. I can’t thank Lumos enough for the opportunity to use my Spanish to connect disadvantaged people to educational resources while channeling my passion for my second language. I am going to incorporate my time in Ecuador into my teaching pedagogy to encourage future students to experience language within the context of culture. Stay tuned for more updates as my January 7 departure date approaches!
The Valley of Los Chillos
The Manna Project Library
The Manna Project Community Center