This summer I participated in a community service program with 360 Student Travel and spent a month in Ecuador and the Galapagos. At the Foundation Davis Orphanage in Quito, my service group painted walls in four school classrooms and played with the young children over the course of one week. I formed a connection with a seven year old girl named Talia despite the language barrier. I taught her various english words (“la hierba” is “grass”, “un regalo” is ” a gift”) and she taught me some spanish. At the end of my visit to the orphanage, Talia gave me “un regalo”, a glass marble to remember her by.
My group traveled from Quito by bus to Latacunga, another town in Ecuador, where we worked at a Senior’s Home. We interacted with severely disabled seniors by reading books to them, playing card games, and dancing with those who were able. My group then traveled to the Amazon Rainforest where we helped to set the foundation for the building of a hut for teachers who teach English to the local children. We carried heavy loads of timber and rocks up to the site, and dug the foundation for the hut.
Next, we went to San Cristobal in the Galapagos where we worked at a local school. We worked to clear the area of unwanted rocks and dead plants to make room for a new classroom. We built columns to hold up the roof of the classroom and laid a foundation of rocks for the floor. Our final destination was Santa Cruz Island, where we helped to reforest the natural habitat of the Giant Tortoise and Darwin Finch by planting endemic tree species at the Ranchos Primicias Reforestation Project.
I enjoyed my time in Ecuador and the Galapagos. I formed unexpected bonds as I worked with members of the local communities, which contributed to a truly memorable experience. By the end of my stay in South America I felt a great sense of accomplishment.