Week 1, Post 1: I Finally Made It to Quito!

June 20, 2019
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 two weeks and are offered in many different fields. We hope you enjoy reading the blog posts of our summer 2019 scholarship winner Samantha B.!

After a delayed flight and an unexpected night spent in Miami, I finally made it to Quito, Ecuador on Sunday night. I was picked up from the airport and went straight to meet my host family at their apartment that is located very close to the Spanish school (which is super convenient!). Celia, my host mom, is a biochemistry professor at a nearby university, and Patricio, my host dad, is an electronics teacher. Alejandra is my host sister and a student, and I could never forget about their tiny dog, Alex, who is always craving attention. I settled into my room, which has an amazing view, and I began introductions at the Spanish school the next day.

On Monday, I was shown how to take the bus to and from the hospital I would be volunteering at. The trip took about 45 minutes each way, and I definitely underestimated the strength of the sun. I got sunburned just from sitting on the bus! I then went on a short walking tour with other new volunteers to see where many popular restaurants and markets are located. Two hours of Spanish lessons followed, but the time flew by because my teacher and I were making jokes and talking about very interesting topics the entire time! Before dinner, I went on a walk with my host family around the area and enjoyed the cooler nighttime temperatures. I went to sleep relatively early in preparation for waking up at 5:45am the following morning for my first day volunteering at Hospital del Sur. 
On Tuesday, I traveled with a few volunteers to Hospital del Sur. I then changed into my white uniform and chose to start volunteering for my first week in the Pediatrics department. The nurses in this department are super nice and welcoming and genuinely wanted to teach me about anything medical. They were intrigued that I am going to start medical school this upcoming fall and asked me numerous questions about the United States. They even encouraged me to practice starting IVs in babies, which is 100x harder when the babies are screaming and trying to move around! After my first shift, I traveled back with the volunteers and prepared for my 2-hour Spanish lessons. Now, I am about to leave to attend salsa classes. Ciao!