Haley Smith
Haley Smith
Ecuador, 2018
From July -September 2018, I will be interning with Sinamune, an organization in Quito, Ecuador that provides music education and other services to individuals with special needs. I will be assisting with music classes, performances, and more. I am excited to experience the Ecuadorian culture and learn from these incredible individuals! Read More About Haley →

Week 3: Part 1

Monday, July 23rd

Today I woke up with a terrible headache, so I called in sick to Sinamune and stayed home to rest. I fell back asleep even though I had gone to bed at 8 pm the night before and ended up sleeping for 18 hours straight! I felt so, so tired. The other girls told me that they felt like the altitude really hit them the third week and they all had headaches and were exhausted, so probably that’s what it is. Hopefully by the end of this week I will be completely acclimated and settled in! Fortunately (or unfortunately), I didn’t miss anything at Sinamune because apparently no students came!

Tuesday, July 24th

Today I went to Sinamune, rehearsed with the orchestra, and then played in the performance for tourists. After that, we went on an excursion to the historic center of Quito. We went to El Museo Cultural Metropolitano. It was an hour bus ride there, and then some more waiting to enter the museum. The actual time spent at the museum was only about 30 minutes, but it was interesting. I learned some about Quito’s history, but I spent most of the time helping to manage the students and making sure they didn’t touch anything or fall into any exhibits. I’m not sure how much they got out of it, but I know our tour guide was amused because some of them kept asking the same questions over and over. One boy asked (about the historical wax statues) “Are they dead?” After we finished the tour, we had to wait 45 minutes for the rest of the group. Then we had to wait 45 minutes in the sidewalk for the buses. This turned out to be quite interesting because we happened to be waiting on a street where a woman was screaming and stripping naked, yelling at three police officers that were trying to calm her down. I have no idea what was going on. There was no way to get away from the scene or to cover all the students’ eyes. I’ll let you imagine the reactions of a bunch of adolescent and adult males with special needs upon seeing this crazy naked woman. As I said before, never a dull moment!

Cosette, Meghan, Paige, and I didn’t ride the bus back to Sinamune with the students because Spanish lessons were close by and it didn’t make sense to go all the way back and then return to the area for Spanish. I stopped by my empanada place for lunch and then headed to Spanish.

Right now we are doing a lot of conversation to help me practice speaking and also reviewing certain grammar things, currently preterite versus imperfect. I forgot how confusing preterite versus imperfect could be!

Oh, and after Spanish lessons, Cosette, Meghan, Paige, and I all had a salsa dancing lesson! It was a lot of fun but also difficult. I felt like a dead fish flopping around and I’m sure I looked like it too. Paige was of course a natural what with all her dance experience, but the rest of us were on the struggle bus! I don’t know if we are ready for the salsatecas yet…

Wednesday, July 25th

I have to be honest and say that this has been a bit of a rough week. I am growing increasingly frustrated with the program and everything I thought it would be that it isn’t. All of us interns were told there would be summer music camps and classes in July and that Sinamune would be on break for two weeks in August, during which time we would go to another music program. Well, to begin with, there are not summer music camps or classes. The students only attend Sinamune two days per week in the summer and when they do, they go on excursions. The other days are filled with painting rooms, moving desks, and glorified babysitting. Any music lessons or classes that happen are run by us and they are sporadic at best.

Also, we found out recently that Sinamune is actually on summer vacation for the ENTIRE month of August, five weeks. No matter, we thought, it would be interesting to experience another program. However, we have just found out that there is no other program that they had planned for us to go to, and now they are talking about just having us teach music lessons to people in the surrounding neighborhood for the entire month of August. We all feel misled and frustrated. Diana did tell us about a music school by her house that we might be able to work with. However, Cosette and Meghan went there on Monday and they said all they did was join a jazz improv group that lasts for two weeks. There doesn’t seem to be much going on there.

Anyway, to elaborate on my frustration, here is how today went. We arrived at Sinamune for orchestra rehearsal and waited an hour, only to find out there was no orchestra rehearsal! Then we went downstairs to ask for further instructions and they had us move a bunch of desks from the third floor to the second floor. Then some of the teachers were working on organizing their rooms, and we were just in the way with nothing to do, so we retreated down the hallway to the small rooms used for practicing.

I forgot if I mentioned Kevin yet, but he plays violin in the orchestra and teaches lessons as well at Sinamune. He is in high school and wants to go to college for music. Last week he and I talked about doing an exchange where he will teach me violin lessons and I will teach him English lessons. There was nothing else to do, so we had our first violin/English lesson. My goodness, I forgot how miserable it is to be a beginner learning an instrument. We worked the whole time on bow grip exercises and who knew it could be so difficult?!

After that, I practiced piano for two hours while Meghan practiced violin and Cosette practiced flute. Paige practiced Spanish. Finally, it was time to leave.

I rode the bus to a coffee shop near the other girls’ houses because I was supposed to go to the other music school with them today. (We would have Spanish Friday instead of today.) When it was time to leave, I walked 30 minutes to their house so we could walk over together. After I arrived, Diana called and told us that classes were actually cancelled at the other school because the professor was sick. Honestly, I’m not even surprised anymore.

There is no bus from their house to mine, so I had to walk 45 minutes home. Fortunately, it was a pretty day and I got to see some of the city. I am realizing though that I could NEVER live in a city permanently. It is a nice experience for three months, but the smells and sounds are just too much sometimes.

Well, who knows what tomorrow will bring? The disorganization and lack of planning is incredibly frustrating, but at the very least I’m going to improve my piano-playing and Spanish a great deal while I’m here…

Thanks to all for their continued thoughts and prayers.

2 thoughts on “Week 3: Part 1”

  1. So disappointing, Haley. I have a friend who told me about being invited to a country in eastern Europe to assist in a Bible translation project. After he got there, he was slowly forced out of the project for political reasons. Of course, he was devastated. But during the process, he developed a friendship with the woman who washed his clothes. The friendship transitioned into a Bible study with her and some of her friends, which, to everyone’s astonishment, grew into a church. I’ll be praying that God will breathe something new, unexpected, and extraordinary from this chaos.

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