Audrey O'Connell is one of Spirit's 2017 Volunteer Abroad Ambassador Scholarship winners. She is volunteering at a child-care center in Quito, Ecuador for four weeks through our partner in Ecuador, Fundación Bolivar Education.
Because we didn’t have any plans for today, we decided to sleep in and see if anyone had any ideas in the morning. We wanted to do something, but we didn’t want to do something that would be better as a full day trip, and so we decided to see what the shopping centers look like here. It was fun because there were four of us who wanted to go, but it turns out that there are two malls with very similar names. “Quicentro” was the one we wanted to go to, but we didn’t know that “Quicentro Sur” was a different place. We took a very long and relatively expensive taxi to a mall that ended up being mostly fast food restaurants, electronic stores, and children’s stores. The good part was that we all got ice cream at one of the four options in the mall, and we chatted while walking around and people watching. We went out for a late lunch at a Tex-Mex restaurant near the school, and it turned out to be a pleasant and fairly restful day!
Today was my first day of volunteer work! Johanne and I woke up around 6 so that we could be at the bus station by 7:30. We met up with another volunteer and arrived without getting lost. I was assigned to help in the three-year-old room with a teacher and a teacher’s assistant. As soon as I walked in, all of the children immediately ran towards me with the toys that they were holding. They started creating a pile because they kept running back and forth to bring me more toys. It was the sweetest thing ever! We took all fifteen of them to the bathroom before breakfast, and then once they finished eating, we took them back to the bathroom. When we returned to the room, we sang a few songs and learned about the difference between “afuera” and “adentro” (outside and inside). At ten, we took them to the cafeteria again for a snack. We then did a craft using “afuera” and “adentro” by having them paste little pieces of paper outside of the spoon and inside the plate. They had so much fun simply ripping paper and gluing it onto the page; it entertained them until lunch. We took them all to the bathroom again, and then when they finished eating and were getting ready for their nap, I left for the day.
Overall, I can’t wait to continue working with the kids! It was frustrating when they tried to talk to me and I couldn’t understand what they were saying, but I think that they still like having me there even if I can’t always communicate properly with them. In addition, I know that my communication in Spanish will just get better as I continue to volunteer. They are exhausting to take care of, but they are adorable and full of energy which is great to see!
This morning was rather rainy on the way to school; sitting with Johanne, I noticed something peculiar about the bus. There was reggaeton music blaring through the speakers and practically drowning out the rain. It was the same way every other time I rode a bus in Quito, but was especially hilarious to me this morning because I couldn’t even hear the rain hitting the bus.
Once I got to school, the same greeting happened. After five minutes of being in the classroom, I had a pile of gifts from my new amigitos. We went to lunch, then we had TV time before the mid-morning snack. This was nice because I got a chance to talk to the teachers. I couldn’t quite understand them because they talk quickly and quietly, but we could have basic conversations about where I am from and how long I am staying. One of the teachers even offered to braid my hair because I told her that I liked hers! Snack time finished and we returned to the classroom. We worked on the projects from yesterday because not everyone finished. Additionally, we had six more students today. The teachers told me that the extra students come mostly from families who work in the mercado next to the school, and when it rains, they send them to us. They are all adorable, and it’s nice to get to know their personalities. We took them to lunch, and after that, I went home.