Ana Vasan | Western Springs, IL — Cognitive Studies Major, 2018
This summer, Ana will be traveling to Quito, Ecuador with a small cohort of peers to engage in a four-week long service project. Ana will work as a teacher in an elementary school in Quito to develop the interests and work ethics of the children, while being immersed in the culture native to Ecuador.
Blog Post One:
Hello from Ecuador!
After a few days of getting to know the kids and the school that I am working in, I have finally figured out a structure for my classes, and, while it remains fully flexible based on the age group that I am working with (what a difference just a year makes!) and their particular mood that day, it has been much easier on me to be able to arrive at my classes fully armed with a plan and having flashcards, stories, and stickers to fall back on if I get stuck. The 3-5 year old classes love songs, so I made up a few to use as teaching tools, pairing English vocabulary words with their Spanish translations, and taught them to my classes. It has been delightful to hear the kids singing the songs–even outside of class, just among friends! Hopefully these songs will outlast me and my four weeks with the kids.
Anyway, it seems to me that my short stint as a volunteer teacher at INEPE might really be more for my benefit that the kids’–I am taking this one to sharpen my skills as a volunteer, a communicator, and a teacher so that, even if I am unable to have as meaningful of an impact on the niñitos’ education as I would like, I can take my lack of satisfaction at how short of a time I will be working with these kids and use it to make myself a better server, a more effective tool, for my future (hopefully!) continuing to work in reformation education. With all this in mind, my definition of “meaningful service” may need to be broadened for/by this situation, to account for long-term significance in addition to what I can accomplish in the short term. The kids are adorable, the work is rewarding, and I can climb mountains during my planning periods (see photo below).
Beyond my musings on the service work I am doing…everyone in Quito continues to be incredibly friendly, and I find myself looking forward to wandering around and getting lost, because it gives me a perfect excuse to strike up conversations with the Ecuadorean people. They have all be very nurturing, welcoming, and willing to help–hopefully I will bring some of that neighborly charm back home with me in June!