Friday, January 23, 2009

Volunteering at The Working Centre and My Placement in Ecuador

This week was spent trying to organize placements both for volunteering at The Working Center and my summer in Ecuador. I met with Rebecca on Tuesday night to discuss where in The Working Center I'd like to help out. She was very helpful and tried to make sure I was matched up with a placement that would suit both my interests and the needs of the center. I have always loved baking and would like some experience cooking, and I also think it's a great that that all their products are made using whole foods. I also work as a waitress, and I thought it would be good experience to work in the kitchen. She thought that sounded like a good match for me, but also suggested helping out with St John's Kitchen or Worth A Second Look. I hadn't thought of either of those, but both sound like good opportunities. I'm sure I will enjoy whatever placement I end up in, and that I will learn a lot.
There is an organization in Ecuador called Fundacion Reto Internacional that runs various work placements and community organizations throughout the country. I was instructed to go to their website to look at the different opportunities. There were a few to choose from, including teaching English to elementary or high school kids, helping out with an NGO, or volunteering with a daycare. Though all of those sounded like fantastic opportunities, none of them sounded like the one for me. I already do quite a lot of baby-sitting, and I'd really like to try something new. The category called Social Work was the one that caught my attention, and more specifically the possibility of spending my summer helping out in an orphanage. I know it will be a very challenging job, and it will be extremely hard to see children living in such sad conditions, but I also think it will be rewarding and that I will learn a lot from it. The hardest part will be not bringing all of the children back home with me. This will probably be the hardest thing I ever do, but I know it will be worth it. I hope I can bring back with me a new and greater understanding of how other people in the world live, and that my life is transformed, if only a little bit, by this experience. I hope I can pass along some of the knowledge I gain to those around me, so that little by little we can make the world a better and more just place.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


I was under the impression we were going to be giving a presentation on the country where we will be spending the summer. So, with that in mind, I did a bit or research. Here is what I learned:

-as it name suggests, it is derived from the word equator, and it is in fact on the equator
-there are three main land regions: mountain, forest, and coastal
-it is a country of much geographic variety - you can see rainforest as well as volcanoes there
-it is famous for the Galapagos Islands, where Darwin made his first discoveries that led to the writing of The Origin of Species
-there are thousands of species of plants and animals, more than many other countries
-it is easy and inexpensive to get from place to place, and buses will stop anywhere along the route to pick up passengers
-one tourist attraction is the city of Banos, which is a city with many natural hot springs that contain sulfurous compounds that are good for your skin.
-a local specialty in Banos is taffy that is pulled in the doorways of shops
-the local language is Spanish, though there are many Indigenous people living there as well
-it is considered one of the safest countries in South America
-another specialty dish is guinea pig (which, after becoming acquainted with my friend's two pet guinea pigs Squeaky and Chica, I hope to avoid during my stay there)
-like many other countries in South America, there has been a fair amount of political unrest there

I'm sure there are things that I have forgotten, but those are the ones that I could recall. I look forward to learning more about this country as the time I will spend there gets closer.