With final approval from Washington, I am now able to continue to blog about my Peace Corps Experience in Ecuador. I thank the Lynn community, friends and family who have waited for me to continue with my posts; noting from a few E-mails that I’ve received along with the fact that the blog is still up and running I can conclude that there is some type of demand for this website!
So soon after graduating this past May, I got on a plane en route to Ecuador with 68 other Peace Corps volunteers from around the States. It was a real dynamic group, filled with amazing people from all walks of life. The only real common thread that we shared was the fact that we were embarking on a life-changing journey from which none of us knew exactly how it would unfold.
The following three months were dedicated to language and cultural training in the city of Cayambe. I have to admit that it was a common perception among the trainees that I would have the easiest time adjusting since I come from a Latino background. In fact, I would say that the fact that I already speak the language only allows me to take on an even greater burden of understanding the specific Ecuadorian customs and idiosyncrasies which really take a lifetime to master. Indeed, my training site was in a very remote location where indigenous customs were still a strong influence. That by itself presented challenges as I wanted to view life from their perspective, and even presented the necessity of learning a few phrases in their native language called “Kitchua”.
After those three months of cultural integration, all of the volunteers got separated into their own locations throughout the country. And as new lifelong friendships were formed within the volunteers, it was like saying goodbye all over again to those whom we felt accustomed to.
I was personally assigned to Quininde, Esmeraldas which is in the northeast part of the coastline. My first impression of my site was that it was much, much hotter than South Florida and that I would have to get used to working in this heat without hopes of seeing and air-conditioned room. I was also stunned by the amount of teenage pregnancies, underage labor and relative poverty from the surrounding areas; indeed I was not in Boca Raton anymore.
Nevertheless, on the bright side I was happy to see the endless amount of fruit, sea food, welcoming people and a distinct motivation on behalf of the community for continued progress. And now, with almost three months into my service, I am content with what lies ahead. I started working with youth and families, and after tallying up the signatures from the sign-in sheets that I’ve passed around at all of my meetings, I was amazed to see that I had already spoken to about 200 teenagers concerning topics on leadership, AIDS awareness, good study habits and life skills. Future projects include a blood bank, a television program directed by the youth, and the development of a recreational center that would sponsor volleyball, soccer and chess competitions.
Every point I’ve delivered in this post really deserves a whole entry by itself. But now that I’ve installed internet at my new apartment, all I have to do now is officially move in there to start blogging on a daily basis! The waking Sun is always followed by new adventures, and I can only hope to learn and grow from every single one of them.