Spirit Cultural Exchange offers individuals the opportunity to help with a variety of volunteer projects in Ecuador while immersing themselves in the local culture. Volunteer projects are available throughout the year for a minimum of one week and are offered in many different fields. We hope you enjoy reading the blogs of our summer 2015 scholarship winner Rita H.
My name is Rita Hess, and I am the second scholarship recipient traveling to Ecuador this year :) I am currently waiting in O'hare airport for my flight to board and I thought it was as good a time as any to write about my expectations, hopes, and nerves about my trip! I've got a long day of travel ahead of me (I get into Quito around 6AM!) and I'm told that I'll start with an orientation of the city and my Spanish lessons as soon as I get there, so I probably won't write for a day or so.
I am normally such a Type-A planning person, but I have tried to be really relaxed about this trip and just let things happen as they may. It's been a lesson in patience and letting go and I am so excited to get my adventure started! In classic Rita fashion, however, I checked two big suitcases, but I'm happy to report that it's not full of my seemingly endless closet, most of the stuff is clothes, school supplies, teacher supplies, coloring books, and more to hopefully donate to the orphanage. Thank you so much to the Ehrhardt family, the Korsgard family, the Scafidi family, my family, and Cynthia for your very thoughtful donations! I'll be arriving in Cuenca/where the orphanage is next week, so you won't get an update on that for a bit.
One of the things I'm most nervous about for this trip is just meeting people when I'm there. Alex who is leaving Ecuador today and Danielle, the scholarship recipient last year, both spoke so highly about the volunteer network throughout the city and the friends they were able to make, so I'm sure I'll be fine. It's just a little nerve-wrecking going into this alone! I know I won't be totally alone, however, because I'll have host families in Quito for my first week and Cuenca for my last two weeks. I stayed with a host family when I was abroad in Spain during my undergrad and it was the highlight of my semester, so I'm really looking forward to having more connections to the cities I'll be living in!
I think that is all for now, my flight starts boarding in about 15 minutes, so I should probably make my way over to my gate. Think happy flight thoughts for me; see ya in Ecuador!