The next day we visited the British School of Quito, which was absolutely amazing. The outdoor scenery was breathtaking. Talk about a little fresh air. The school curriculum was mainly focused on implementing English as a primary language, although Spanish is the students’ native language. For the lower grades, it was interesting to see how they interacted with their primary English-speaking teacher and their secondary Spanish speaking teacher in the classrooms. Some of the children absolutely dreaded speaking in English and some were catching onto new English words each day. Also, there was a significant amount of students from other countries learning both Spanish and English. The next day, we visited the school of Caminitos de Luz in which we each conducted lessons to share with the kids. Some of us were completely nervous because neither the teachers or students spoke any English. As we sung songs and used flash cards to help the students distinguish English words, they caught on very fast. At the end of the school day, we all made our donations to the school. One of which was donated from Coca-Cola. The students were so excited to see all of our school supplies and workbooks being given to them, which made us smile even more. On the last day, we participated in a pancake race at the British school. Surprisingly, the faculty and students were excited to see us participate. As the children finished flipping their pancakes, the school day was over and we began our departure. Although it was a long period of time trying to make it back home, we all were grateful and truly blessed to have shared this experience together. And we smiled because we were in the Andes!
On our last day in our luxurious hotel, we were taken on a guided trip of Old Quito. The Spanish, Italian, and French architecture were written all over the city. It truly reflected the history of Ecuadorian people. The most impressive buildings, however, were the Roman Catholic churches. My group and I were completely speechless from the moment we stepped foot into the church. The specific detail and symmetric design of the church was truly spectacular. We visited the middle of the world, where we experimented with the northern and southern forces of the Earth. We balanced an egg on the equator and even walked the equator line with our eyes closed to feel the different forces and their effect on us. We also had the opportunity of walking through the mall. I must say it was surprising to see such high prices for clothing that we would find in the states. However, it was interesting to see the people that were shopping in the mall and noticing the social classes in Ecuador. Also, you could clearly distinguish between the clothing that would normally be found in the states and the clothing that was crafted by an Ecuadorian fashionista. After our last night in our hotel, we departed the next day to connect with our host families. We were all nervous. But once we stepped out of the van and greeted by beautiful smiling faces, we all got excited. My host mom was very kind and a little quiet, but she and her family welcomed me with open arms.
Our fabulous dinner from day 1 had us memorized. All of us tried various meats from animals we wouldn’t normally think of eating. Beef tongue, cuy (guinea pig), pato (duck), and goat stew were all on our plates that night. They were absolutely amazing! On Day 2 of our trip, we took a long scenery route to the city of Otavalo. Otavalo has the biggest and most popular market in South America. It was amazing to see all of the beautiful merchandise for sale, such as paintings, jewelry, blankets, shoes, hats, and even baby clothes. The fresh fruit, vegetables, and meat were on display for consumers to buy from. Every seller was prepared to make their profits. In Otavalo, we got a closer view of the economy and how these markets serve as a historical ground as their children learn to take over the family businesses. Day 3 was a trip to the cities of Tulipe and Mindo. In Tulipe, we toured a museum dedicated to the Yumbo people. The Yumbo people created a group pools using an irrigation type system. They used these pools for religious and ceremonial purposes. After the museum we headed to Mindo to experience the butterfly garden there. There was also white water rafting, sadly we didn’t have our bathing suits.
After a long day of traveling and arriving at the hotel at 1 am, we were still excited to rise up in the early morning to see what the city of Quito had to offer. When meeting the group for breakfast in the hotel, we were all so astonished at how amazing the views of the Andes mountains looked. We looked at one another and said, ” Wow, we’re in Ecuador now!”. We gathered downstairs to see what activity we were going to do first. After we packed into several taxis, we were off to our first destination: Mt. Pichincha (which just happens to be a volcano). As we rose to the top of the mountain, we slowly felt the pressure increasing and we watched the clouds cover our observatory pod. We were so amazed at the breathtaking view of the city of Quito at the top of the mountain. We then again realized that we were truly in the Andes. We had the opportunity of viewing a little church on the hiking trail. It gave us some insight to the structure of a religious setting in Ecuador. It was just a little taste of what was in store for us at the Roman Catholic churches in the city. After spending time on the mountain, we negotiated a ride back into the city of Quito where we stopped for lunch at a fast food restaurant called La Tabuelita. They served mostly grilled foods, like hamburgers, chicken, and ribs, with either papas (potatoes) or salads as sides. On our journey to the local city market, we had the experience of taking a city bus, which was a 25 cent fare, to our next destination. Although we were in a crowded area in which personal space was not an option, I think we all enjoyed listening to the locals communicate among-st each other and see common people interacting in everyday Quito. Once we arrived at the local market, we were all put to the test to communicate between language barriers. Luckily using numbers and hand gestures were helpful as I did not know any Spanish prior to embarking on this trip. Hand crafted jewelry, blankets, shoes, scarves, and sweaters caught my eye in every direction as I observed the market place. The colors and use of material was beautiful and very authentic. Although I wanted to buy every item I laid my eyes on, it just was not possible. As I sat in the middle of the market place and observed other buyers and sellers, I couldn’t help but think “Wow, I am in the Andes!” and for that reason, I smiled.
Hi, my name is Shytara Fields and I will be writing about my amazing experience in Ecuador for this spring break 2014! I am currently a sophomore at Columbus State University, majoring in Early Childhood Education. I decided to embark on this study abroad journey to Ecuador to further my studies in diversity in education. Communication is key in a classroom of diverse students. With America being a big “melting pot”, teachers are likely to run into various communication issues within their own classrooms. Language barriers can be a big communication obstacle for anyone; therefore, I have decided to jump out of my comfort zone and travel to Quito, Ecuador where I will work with students in the British School Quito and Caminitos de Luz. This is my first time being out of the country or even outside of the eastern coast of the USA, so I am super excited and anxious to see what awaits me in Ecuador!