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Day 3: A Day of Sharing

June 20, 2014

by Kate, Leslie and Meghan

After a light breakfast, during which we tried two new juices, guava and tree tomato, we headed to the Community of Cumbijín, a mountainous páramo partner with Heifer Ecuador, to distribute the lessons, activities, and materials we had prepared.  As we entered the school grounds, we were overcome with emotion as one student ran over to hug each of us!  We immediately felt welcomed!  The NC teachers divided into three teams, accompanied by a translator, to lead the professional development with the teachers and students of the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades.  The three topics were Human Body, Wildlife of Ecuador, and Outdoor Investigations.  We were excited to interact with the teachers and students and they were eager to learn and participate in the activities.  We asked the students if they would be able to repeat the activities with the younger students and they yelled “¡Sí!” in unison!

Ecuadorian student with bug in a box.

Ecuadorian student with bug in a box.

Ecuadorian students assembling a model human skeleton.

Ecuadorian students assembling a model human skeleton.

After many hugs and pictures, we gathered with the community and students in the town plaza where we were honored with a presentation of traditional Ecuadorian dances by the students.  Then we were asked to dance with the students!

We said “adios” to the students and enjoyed a traditional Andean meal of melloco (a tuber similar to potatoes), fava beans, cheese, papa chaucho (potatoes), hard boiled eggs, and ají sauce (which is very similar to salsa).  The meal was a “bamba mesa” which means “potluck” and was prepared by the students’ families and was produced within the community.

After performing a dance traditional to the region, the students asked us to dance with them.

After performing a dance traditional to the region, the students asked us to dance with them.

Our wonderful meal of typical Andean cuisine.

Our wonderful meal of typical Andean cuisine.

In reflection of the day, we realized that though we are geographically far apart, we are similar in many customs.  For example, the school was organized similarly (with a principal, classes by grade, a parent-teacher association, & a student council).  More importantly, we met passionate teachers and enthusiastic students, which inspires us; all of our hearts grew a little more today!

So … we must mention Futbol de Ecuador!  We walked to a local restaurant to watch the big game and share in the excitement when Ecuador beat Honduras 2 to 1!  The celebration that filled the streets was overwhelming!  People were honking car horns, blowing trumpets, waving flags, and chanting “Ecuador” and “Sí se puede” which means “Yes, we can!”

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19 Comments leave one →
  1. Joe permalink
    June 21, 2014 11:45 am

    Being there when they win a soccer game must have been awesome!! I hope Tarina teaches me those new dance moves!

    • christyflint2013 permalink*
      June 25, 2014 1:12 pm

      It was a lot of fun to support the Ecuadorian team surrounded by very enthusiastic Ecuadorians. We were (almost) as excited by the win as everyone else in the restaurant!

  2. Linda Schafer permalink
    June 21, 2014 6:45 pm

    I love that you did a “hands-on” activity with the students. How nice that the school community had a potluck meal for you all. Is school mandatory in Ecuador? Do they seem to have enough materials/books/supplies?
    P.S. Julie, did you dance with the kids????? :)

    • christyflint2013 permalink*
      June 25, 2014 1:09 pm

      School is mandatory in Ecuador until 12th grade. It seemed to us that most of the students truly wanted to be in school and appreciated their education. The school we visited did not have many supplies or books and therefore were very appreciative of the supplies we had brought. Despite the apparent lack of resources that we sometimes take for granted in the U.S., it was obvious that the Cumbijin teachers were a dedicated and very skilled group of men and women.
      P.S. Yes!

  3. Judy Davis permalink
    June 21, 2014 9:25 pm

    Hi Julie, Ok, I think I’m on the right page this time. What a rewarding experience with the teachers and students. Are their culture and dances similar to Mexico? Do you know enough Spanish to get by talking with the kids? The World Cup really is bringing us all together to cheer for our country. Do the kids play soccer in school? Thanks for sharing this trip with all of us! Judy Davis

    • christyflint2013 permalink*
      June 25, 2014 1:08 pm

      The culture and dances seem similar to those of Mexico, but can vary depending on the location, size, and traditions of the community. In the classroom, we each had a translator to aid in the implementation of the lessons. Even though there was a language barrier, there was a lot of unspoken communication by means of body language, visual clues, smiles and laughs. The children here do play a lot of soccer as evidence of the soccer field in the middle of the school courtyard. They also enjoy volleyball. Everywhere that we have driven throughout the whole country, we have witnessed people playing soccer.

  4. Laura Cochrane permalink
    June 22, 2014 9:09 am

    Hey Kate and Tarina:) The school visit sounded amazing! I’m curious how the Ecuadorian school day compares to our typical day. What are some of the biggest differences? Have you seen a blue footed booby or alpaca yet?

    • christyflint2013 permalink*
      June 25, 2014 1:22 pm

      The school in Cumbijin that we visited starts its day at 7:30 am and lets out at 1 pm. When we have been on the road around that time in other locations, we have noticed a lot of uniformed school children walking in small groups after 1 pm, so we assume that schools in other communities also get out around 1 pm. Having only visited one school, it is difficult for us to comment about differences between the Ecuadorian and U.S. school systems, but we did notice that the school in Cumbijin didn’t have many books or other classroom supplies. We met some alpacas during Day 3 when we returned to the Cumbijin community for a tour of their alpaca project. We saw a few Blue-footed Boobies on Day 7 when we visited the fishing community of Chanduy. We hope to see more during our hike on Isla de la Plata on Day 8.

  5. Michael Rocco permalink
    June 22, 2014 3:49 pm

    Hello everyone, I see that you guys went over the wildlife in Ecuador. What are the most deadly animals/insects in the country? What are some precautions the people take to protect themselves from the deadly creatures?

    • christyflint2013 permalink*
      June 25, 2014 1:55 pm

      There are venomous snakes in the Amazon region of Ecuador. Also flies and mosquitos which carry diseases are found in some regions of the country. Tall rubber boots guard against snakebite. Vaccinations, mosquito nets and and covering your skin with clothing help prevent insect-borne diseases.

  6. Lynne permalink
    June 22, 2014 5:21 pm

    Cindy, I enjoyed reading about your day. What fun! Take lots of pictures.

  7. Stephanie Kinley permalink
    June 22, 2014 10:36 pm

    Leslie, I expect you to show me your dance moves when you come back!!!:)

  8. Diane DeWindt permalink
    June 23, 2014 1:41 pm

    Very intrigued by your adventure! Curious . . . what types of technology are found there? Do teachers teach more than one grade level? What is the average classroom size? How wonderful the community is so accepting. No surprise that the families greeted you such warmth, you can see it in their faces. Looking forward to reading and seeing more of your trip. Rock on!
    (P.S. found out about your adventure from Julie’s mom, Linda. I teach 5th Grade in Escondido, California)

    • christyflint2013 permalink*
      June 25, 2014 1:30 pm

      The school we visited in the Cumbijin community serves grades K-8 and each grade has its own teacher. We worked with the 6th, 7th and 8th grade classes and they had 23, 17 and 18 students respectively. We’re not sure what the size of each lower grade is, but the school in total had 133 students. We did not see any computers available for the students’ use, but don’t know if the teachers have computers at the school.

  9. Tiffany Zinn permalink
    June 23, 2014 1:54 pm

    Hi Lindsay, It looks like you are having a very interesting trip! We can’t wait to hear all the details when you get back. I’m wondering how the local food pictured above tasted.

    • christyflint2013 permalink*
      June 25, 2014 2:01 pm

      The white cheese was fresh and delicious. The fava beans were popular, though most of us didn’t eat the skin. The potatoes were a different texture than we expected but very tasty. The sauce in the blue bowl is called aji, and is different everywhere you go.

  10. Beth Winget permalink
    June 24, 2014 6:52 am

    Hi Cindy! Hope you can remember the dance moves to share with the children. What an awesome picture of the clouds opening!! I can’t wait to hear all your adventures. Hope you are keeping a journal.

  11. Jennifer Nabors permalink
    June 24, 2014 5:56 pm

    Ms. Wernersbach this is my question for the blog. Is the education system in Ecuador the same as in America? If not, how is it different and is there anything we could implement in our schools that would benefit us?

    • christyflint2013 permalink*
      June 25, 2014 1:05 pm

      Jennifer,
      The general structure of the schools are similar with different grade levels and subject areas. The school in the Cumbijin community did not appear to have any computers for the students. School starts around 7:30 am and the students attend class until 1 pm. Schools do not provide lunch, so the students eat when they get home. School is in session 9 months – at the coast from May–Januar, and in the highlands September–May. The different starting and ending months are because of the weather. We liked how the students were enthusiastic and excited about learning.

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