August 14, 2017

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.

Now that I have been home for about a month, I have been able to process my experience more fully.  I definitely miss practicing my Spanish every day, but I can’t wait to start classes again so that I can continue to learn more about the language with the cultural knowledge I learned in Ecuador as a background.  I have kept in touch with my roommate quite a bit, and I am incredibly grateful that we were able to create such a strong bond during our month together.  I still periodically think about the children in the daycare and miss them a lot!  Since coming home, I have been increasingly interested in traveling and pursuing a study abroad program through my university.  I have tried to keep up a little bit with Latin American politics because I learned about the issues and current events from my host family and other Ecuadorians; I have been actively trying to broaden my worldview since my trip.  

I had such a wonderful experience in Quito, and I believe that Spirit Cultural Exchange made my trip as smooth and convenient as it could have been because of the preparation that they put into my stay.  The host family with whom they placed me was ideal; they were kind and welcoming every day.  Spirit placed me with a roommate, and we got along wonderfully.  Simon Bolivar was a great community resource for me, which was helpful because I always felt like I had support.  I wish I could experience this life-changing trip again because it was one of the best months of my life!