Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Ultima Semana

It’s Time To Go Home

I have to be honest, I knew I would have had a good time but I seriously did not realize how much I would come to enjoy and love this country. And its people. When I say its sad to leave I truly mean it. This past week the students have read letters sang songs and had dances in their classrooms expressing their appreciation for us being here helping them with their English. This show of appreciation started at the beginning of the week and to be honest it was something I was not really expecting. Along with their letters in English the students had presents that they made and some of their letters, it’s sappy to say actually made me cry.
Apart from all that, we did do some fun things like going to the Botanical Garden, having a fun lunch with the English teachers at Calderon School,dinner in La Ronda and for some of us, re-visiting places in Quito that we had previously enjoyed.
Friday was our last day with the students. Every classroom you walk into they stood up to greet you and say good morning teacher. They have been doing that for the past few weeks but to day it’s a bit uncertain. Smiles are a bit wobbly but we make it through class at the end taking lots of pictures. Even the guys getting excited over selfies! A lot of hugs and stay a bit longer, or do you have to go or please come back next year. Maybe these are the same things they say to past Canadian students, I don’t know, but in this moment, I know that my five weeks here has meant something.  That way down south a bunch of kids appreciated my accent for a short while and tried to mimic it!  Either way these kids are also the same kids whose parents had cooked up a storm for me Ecuador style for the last three weeks . So I will leave Ecuador feeling glad that I met a few young people with names such as Stalin, kevin, Melaine, Jennifer, Lennin, Salvador, Angela, Sharon, Rosa, Maria, Ariana and Santiago.... the list could go on

The teachers, students, strangers in the streets and pretty much everyone we came into contact with in Ecuador, has made our time here exceptional.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Week 4 getting into week 5….. Fine..... Pre departure, I just did not want to call it that!

Our time here seems to be rushing by, I am not sure what the hurry is but, there is a saying ‘that time and tide shall wait for no man’, and I guess that can be applied to us.
Religion is a very big part or the dynamics of Ecuador. Especially, the Roman Catholic religion, which makes up the highest percentage. There are many beautiful churches here. And we have often entered just to admire the interior to ooh and ahh and sit for a while or to take photos if we can because the inside and out side are astounding.
My roommate Alana and I attended church during one of our free weekends and it was great. Working with the students at Calderon continues to be a joy, no two days are the same and they have been tiring really hard to improve their English. I will be hard to leave them for sure.

This past weekend we went to Banos .I get the sense that you cant come to Ecuador and not visit Banos. Prior to going, a lot of people asked if we had gone and many of the students at the school we volunteered at were very excited when they heard we were going there. Any ways we went, we saw, and we conquered the Falls. Our group decided to try canyoning, yes. Or, in laymen terms, this means climbing down the water falls .Yep! …Not one waterfall or two but about seven with varying level of heights, difficulty and different forces of water flowing over, Yeh!  We Canadian chicks did that, what a blast and we have the movie to prove it! Piece of cake, no problemo .We had a crash course and were properly harnessed ……but there were times I did ask my self why I was doing this… but it was a ton of fun. There are lots you can do in Banos such as bar hopping (lol), shopping, people watching, hiking, zip lining …anything. The people we met came from all around the world, Australia, the United States, England, Netherlands, Spain and Germany all there to have a great time. We enjoyed ourselves….some more than others before heading back to our home base in Quito

Sunday, June 7, 2015

week cinco !

Week five is almost over and that means it's time to go home. It's bitter sweet. I have enjoyed my time in Ecuador so much and made so many friendships that I hope to continue once I return to Winnipeg. 

This week Alana and I said goodbye to all our students. We got to be apart of their open house, and were featured in their school paper. It was amazing to see the motivation that Alana and I brought to the classroom over these 5 weeks and I hope we encouraged some students to continue practicing English. From this experience I also gained an enormous amount of knowledge about the Ecuadorian culture, school systems and learnt to speak some Spanish. 

After being in Ecuador for these 5 weeks I have revised my thoughts towards my initial statements about Ecuador and the way they may perceive Canadians. In Canada English is the primary language and then French, in Ecuador Spanish is the primary language then English. Ecuador and Canada are not that much different because they both value programs that promote language and cultural exchange but these aspects are not reveled until you dig deeper into both cultures.  My initial statements behind Ecuador being poor and Canada being wealthy were also rejected when I experienced the system and order that Ecuador does have in place. With their well developed highways, beautiful parks, and organization of their city I kept finding more similarities toward Canada. This is not to says that Ecuador does not experience poverty and after discussing with my teacher and the United Nations presentation many people in Ecuador do live in poverty but the country as a whole is striving for improvement and hopefully in the next few years will be able to reduce their numbers.

I'm so thankful for this experience and am so happy to have meet such amazing people on this journey. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Week Cinco!

OH MY GOODNESS. It is week five already. I can't believe it is our final days in Ecuador. I feel like I have done and seen so much over the past month, that time has just flown by!

Just over a month ago, as I was preparing for Ecuador, I was not really sure what I was getting myself into or what to expect. I thought that Ecuador was fairly impoverished and underdeveloped, and that living conditions would be much different than Canada. Now that I am in Ecuador, and have lived many different wonderful experiences in this country, I am now walking away with a much different perspective.

I was not expecting Ecuador to be so developed. Downtown Quito is in many ways, much more advanced than downtown Winnipeg. Our homes have warm water, plenty of food, a washing machine, and many other devices and luxuries that we would find in our very own homes. That is not to say that poverty and development don't exist in Ecuador, they do, and through talking with our colleagues and students at the schools, I have gained some insight of the different challenges that exist around these issues, but these issues are less visible than I initially thought they would be.

In many ways, this makes Ecuador quite similar to Canada. At a first glance, Winnipeg is a developed, innovative, and progressive city, will tall buildings, bus routes, paved roads, McDonald's, schools, universities, hospitals, etc. But Quito also shares these same qualities as Winnipeg. As I have become more involved with my community over the years, I have become involved with initiatives surrounding homelessness, exploitation, and gender issues in Winnipeg - which are areas in which there remains work, progress, and development that we still need to do.

Thus, although Ecuador, like Winnipeg, is still developing and progressing and working on combatting  various human rights and human security issues that exist, from my experiences and conversations, I believe that a lot of positive progress is being made. I think that Ecuador is experiencing an exciting time of transitioning and developing, and I feel so thankful for having seen and heard some aspects of this development, and for gaining an experience that has truly and genuinely touched my heart and that I will never forget.

Week Cuatro!

Each week here in Ecuador seems to be even better than the last. This week Madi and I had an incredible time working at the schools. The students are getting so comfortable with us, and it seems as though we are spending each day laughing and giggling as we teach English and attempt to learn and speak some Spanish. Our students taught us 'ah cha chi' and 'ah ri ri' (excuse the spelling) expressions this week, and we must have completely butchered the pronunciation, because they couldn't stop laughing when we said it. It's a beautiful feeling knowing that our teaching and learning relationship with the students is mutually beneficial, as we learn the Spanish language and Ecuadorian culture, and teach the English language and different aspects of the Canadian culture. 
This week, we practiced vocabulary with the students using flash cards, and we got them to write the words with chalk in the school yard. None of the students had seen or used chalk before so it was quite the experience. Watching their eagerness and motivation to learn grow more and more as the weeks progress continues to be so inspiring. We even taught the students the song 'if you're happy and you know it' this week. They were really into the song and sang so loud and excitedly! Being in front of the classroom, sharing my knowledge and different songs with the students definitely brings an overwhelming feeling of joy through me. I can't believe that we only have one week left here. I'm not ready to go!!!! There hasn't been a part of the trip that I haven't loved, and I am so thankful for this experience. 

Week Tres!

Week three has been awesome!!!! We continued teaching in the classroom and woooot has it ever been fun!! Had you told me a few weeks ago when I was back in my bed in Winnipeg that I would be waking up at 5:00am to go to school, I probably would say that that would not be at all possible and reconsider the trip all together ;). But now that I am here, I am absolutely loving being in the schools, and waking up this early is not a chore, it is a treat. Each morning I wake up before my alarm is off, excited for the day ahead. And I think this indicates that I am doing something that I really love, because I must say, I am not a morning person, and usually try and sleep every extra minute (and second!) possible. At school this week, we taught the students how to ask and say different questions using who, what, where, when, and why; while also teaching about Canadian culture and holidays (including Louis Riel Day!). One of our students even brings Madi and I chocolate every class (so yummy) and Clara often buys us cookies. Needless to say, this experience is sweet, and touching, not only from the special treats we get everyday, but also from interacting and building relationships with the students, who we are learning so much from. We are so lucky to be here, and are touched by everyone's generosity and kind spirits. There are a lot of students who have retired from school which worries us, and makes us want to learn more and somehow help these numbers decline and diminish. As we investigate this topic we gain insight of the different challenges facing Ecuadorian youth and the education system. I never imagined to learn so much on this journey, and the more I learn and discover, the more I want to continue to learn and discover. 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

week 4

Week four is almost over and I can not believe that we have only one week left. There was some confusion this week with certain students not being in classes because they were preparing for exams. As the week went on though we were able to figure out the confusion and able to enjoy our time in the classroom. 

This week Alana and I introduced the song "If You're Happy and You Know It", made questions based around the 5 w's and showed the students sidewalk chalk. All of these activities allowed us to connect with the students and enjoy our time in the classrooms. I enjoying showing the students sidewalk chalk because they had not seen this before and it was a fun new activity for them to try. They were able to practice writing words in English based on picture cards that we showed them.

This week we also visited the presidential palace, went to the Guaysamin Museum and this weekend we are going to Banos. I can not believe there is only a week left on trip it has gone by so fast. I can't wait to see what next week brings for Alana and I at school but it will be really hard to leave at the end of the week.