Hannah, Ecuador

Hannah is a junior President’s Scholar majoring in political science in Dedman College and accounting in the Cox School, with a minor in Spanish. In spring 2012, she is in Quito, Ecuador, with BCA and SMU Abroad to study international politics, economic development, and social justice in Latin America.

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Lumbisi

Once again, I am quite behind on the blog. So, in order to catch y’all up I am going to start with a few adventures that actually happened last week.

On Friday the 13th, I was lucky enough to tag along with two friends to their volunteer locations. The first destination was a small school in Quito (only about 20 minutes from my host home) at which my friend has been volunteering throughout the entire semester. As an education major, she is infinitely more qualified to teach and help the kids, but I had a great time just chatting with them and observing the general education system at the school.

Things are a bit more chaotic (that seems to be a pretty common theme here in Ecuador), but the students were all so lively and eager to practice a few English vocabulary words.

After a short visit at the school, we met up with another fellow BCA student to take a bus towards Lumbisi, a small rural town about an hour from Quito. Lumbisi is an indigenous community as well as one of the poorest areas surrounding the city of Quito, so I was curious to explore and visit the FEVI foundation. This foundation is an incredible organization that provides all sorts of support for the community including a primary school, a soup kitchen for the eldest members of the town, and a community garden program.

We were able to spend some time with the kids at the school (there are two separate locations, one for preschool and another for elementary), and it was a blast. Again, lots of chaos and excitement…the young boys seem to constantly be in fist fights and discipline is a whole different concept for the teachers who are simply trying to maintain a basic level of order.

We asked one of the school directors which aspect of education was most important, and I thought his answer was interesting. He claimed that playtime is by far the most critical: The kids seem to constantly be in recess, but he explained that this is important for them to learn the critical social skills of the community. Most of the kids playing on the swings or chasing each other around the yard are not going to become doctors, lawyers, or business execs; they are going to become moms, dads, and important members of the local community. He believed that they do not need technical skills or high-level education but rather a system that teaches them ethics, respect, and family responsibility. The school’s goal is simply to use its minimal resources to equip the kids as much as possible for reality.

After our morning at the school, we made our way to the soup kitchen in Lumbisi to serve lunch to some of the elders of the town. A few women prepared the meal (they were experts at cooking for a large group in the most efficient way possible), and we helped serve the men and women waiting at the tables. They were all so incredibly appreciative, and each one made sure to thank us multiple times. It was such a sweet opportunity to help in just a very small way, not to mention a unique visit to an interesting part of the city.

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