Volunteering in Ecuador: one crazy adventure
How would I describe my experience within the organization of Local Dreamers? It could be described as an adventure, as informative, a fun time, but above all: too short. At the end of January I arrived in Ecuador. A bit shy of what all would happen, but once walking out of the airport and seeing a friendly and welcoming face like the one of the cab driver makes a start like this within a second way easier.
By: Amber Koomen
The name of the cab driver was José Luis. Apparently he drives often for Local Dreamers. Even though I couldn’t understand a word of Spanish, he wouldn’t give up on trying to explain Quito to me. He spoke about the names of the mountains, the different areas, the safety etc. Also, the Ecuadorian host family that was given to me, together with having a crazy ass host brother (other volunteer), made it a lot easier.
Just being able to speak up when you have an opinion, when the people show interest in your stories and a place to clear your heart at any time. For me the part I liked the most, was gossiping with my host mom and trying to figure out with who my host brother had a date the other night. 😏
After a few weeks I got close with another volunteer from Germany, and hereby received a second Ecuadorian family as well, a family who would always invite me over for dinner, took me with them on family trips, and even gave me a small present when I left for not forgetting them. Those families have shown me a lot of the Ecuadorian culture, habits and welcoming gestures they have. It has been a warm place to feel at home for the passed 4 months.
Within Local Dreamers I had two classes to which I gave English lectures. One group of 14-16 years old and one group of 16+ (beginners). The differences stood out. The first group really hit puberty, their parents gave them up for the course, they wanted to learn but just didn’t had the concentration for it. I had to add a lot of games to my classes and needed to push the kids all the time. The students of my other class, on the other hand, really wanted to learn the language, but they had a hard time remembering the English words. Here I had to try to keep a balance within a good level of English and keeping it a challenge at all times.
The hardest part of teaching both groups was preparing the classes, I think. Because you never know who would show up, who needed a higher level or already had worked with the information of this particular lecture. I did bond with them all and it was hard leaving them, but living in the current time, I’m pretty sure I will come back.
With the Soccer school I acted more like a student than being the teacher. Me, who doesn’t understand football and can’t play it herself, wasn’t really able to teach the kids more than they already knew. Because of this, I helped out another volunteer (Joep), with teaching. But I guess, I caused more trouble by running to the other teams to meet up with my best Ecuadorian friend Cristali (11 years). I loved to see how much the kids enjoyed to spend their free time with us.
Overall, my time in Ecuador was a big success, with a lot of learning and seeing new things. The weekend trips with the volunteers just finished the picture. Sadly it’s over, and I won’t come back any time soon, but it brought me great memories and maybe not soon, but I will come back. I fell in love with the country and are really curious how the organization but also how the kids will be after some years from now.