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 4, La Más Mejor! (Part 2)

Wednesday, August 1st

Today we went to Sinamune and found out the plan. Essentially, we will still go to Sinamune in the mornings from 8:30-12:00 because there will be a summer program for students of the school who wish to come. There are three groups of about five students each, who will rotate through music group, flute group, and dance group, each for an hour.

Before we even tried that, all three of us could have told you that hour-long groups were not going to work for these students, but we humored the Sinamune staff and tried it. It didn’t work very well, and all of us were pretty frustrated and concerned about doing this and the other groups in the afternoon. We also didn’t know when we were going to go to Spanish. (One suggestion was six hours on Saturdays – yikes!) We asked Diana if we could meet with her, and she said she could meet with us before Spanish.

Because I was now going to be working with the same students consistently every day, I told the staff it would really help me to have some background info on the students and their needs. One of the teachers, Sonia, said of course and gave me a binder with the students’ names, diagnoses, and basic info. I also asked for documentation of other services and therapies they had had. I don’t know if she misunderstood me, but she said they didn’t have that. I asked, “But haven’t they had at least speech-language therapy or physical therapy, like early intervention stuff when they were younger?” She said no. I couldn’t believe it.

Later that day, we met with Diana and spent an hour speaking with her about Sinamune and the plans for the remainder of the time. It was a really helpful conversation, as she told us some more about Sinamune, attitudes about disabilities in Ecuador, and the background of the students. I told her about my questions about documentation and past therapies and also whether or not there is actually anyone who knows what music therapy is there! Here is what I found out:

  1. Music Therapy at Sinamune: The directors of Sinamune, Klever and Aidita, both know what music therapy is and may or may not be music therapists. However, because Sinamune is technically on summer vacations, none of that has been happening and I haven’t gotten the chance to talk to them because they have been either traveling or in the office working on administrative things. Diana said she would make sure I had a chance to talk to them soon.
  1. State of Disability Rights in Ecuador: There is anti-discrimination legislation in place, but that doesn’t always translate to no discrimination in reality. There is a law that for companies who have more than 100 employees, at least 5% of them must have a disability.
  1. Backgrounds of Students at Sinamune: Diana said that because of lack of education, many of the Sinamune families don’t believe that their children with disabilities are capable of doing much. Sinamune is not only a positive and safe place for them, but it also plays a role in educating the families about the purpose and potential of their children. Diana said that families are sometimes ashamed to have a child with a disability, so they essentially shut them away from the world and keep them locked up inside the house. For this reason, many of them didn’t receive services or necessary therapies in the past. Diana said technically those services are provided free of charge by the government, but actually getting them is a whole other story, especially if families don’t want to admit they have a child with a disability.

All of this was so enlightening; I just wish I had known it the first day. It’s really frustrating that the families don’t always see the potential of the students, but it’s awesome that Sinamune is actively working to change that. I understand a lot more where the students are coming from and why things are the way they are here.

Oh, between our meeting and Sinamune we found a delicious place for lunch called La Torre! It is French-themed and has French pastries but still serves Ecuadorian food. The lunch was $3 for soup, main course, juice, and dessert. Qué delicioso!


Thursday, August 2nd

Today was a chill day at Sinamune. There are about 10 students that come consistently to the summer programming. Cosette, Paige, and I work with three psychology students who are at Sinamune for practicum hours. Their names are Melissa, Katherine, and Veronica, and they are awesome. It has been fun getting to know them as well.

We started off the day with an intense soccer match between the professors and the students. At one point it was Cosette, Paige, and I against three of the students, and they creamed us. It was actually comical how terrible we were at soccer. The students were quite amused. It wasn’t a very competitive game, but at least it was entertaining!

After the game, we did music group, dancing, and played some games. I am enjoying the routine of the same students every day, because I am really getting to know them as individuals. Part of what was frustrating before was the lack of consistency or continuity with any of the students.

Oh, and we got to see the final promotional posters and videos from our photo shoot Monday! I will share them below! I don’t think I’ve ever been this official before!

So, the plan for the rest of the time is this: During August, I will go to Sinamune in the mornings to lead music therapy groups. On days when there is orchestra, I will perform with them first and then lead groups. On days when there is not orchestra, I will only lead groups at Sinamune for a couple hours and then go to Spanish lessons. Every day, either after Spanish or after Sinamune, I will go to La Casa de La Musica in the historic center to teach two different choir groups for two hours each. The days will be long, but I am used to long days and thrive on business. Then, in September when the school year starts for Sinamune, I will go there from 8 am to 1 pm every day. In the evenings I will teach one choir group at La Casa de La Música from 4-6. I’m not exactly sure where Spanish will fit in, but I am sure I will figure it out! Cosette has the same schedule as me, but Paige will not be going to Sinamune anymore because she will teach one dance class in the morning and one in the evening for Núcleo Pichincha. Today is our last day of the schedule all together!



Here’s a link to the video from Núcleo Pichincha!


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