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A Gorgeous Sky – High in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador

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A Gorgeous Sky – High in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador

Wisdom HS senior Astrid Escobar (left) volunteered last summer in Ecuador

Wisdom HS senior Astrid Escobar (left) volunteered last summer in Ecuador

Wisdom HS News

Wisdom HS senior Astrid Escobar (left) volunteered last summer in Ecuador

Wisdom HS News

Wisdom HS News

Wisdom HS senior Astrid Escobar (left) volunteered last summer in Ecuador

Astrid Escobar, News Editor

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With the freezing metal of the tap against my right hand, and with my left hand firmly gripped around the glass cup beneath the freezing water, I was immeasurably eager to commence my nightly ritual of brushing my teeth. At the world’s equator, these ordinary tasks appeared enlarged and in full color, and every night I looked forward to the unmitigated responsibility of simply brushing my teeth. The sink I hovered over was made of grass and dirt and it had the luxury of fresh air, a luxury not shared by even the most ornate sinks I had ever hovered over. Not only that, my sink in Ecuador was home to the finest wallpaper, a resolute sky and intimate gathering of stars that never ceased to inspire awe

“Astrid, esta muy achachay. ¿Porque tarda?” My host mother, alternating through Spanish and her ethnic Kichwa dialect, worried that I would not be able to handle the gusting wind at night. She knew that, after I had stayed out too long in the Ecuadorian cold on earlier nights, I had developed fevers and headaches. Thus, she hurried me along, cutting short my nightly ritual.

As a volunteer through the organization AMIGOS, with the purpose of creating a sustainable  microenterprise for a foreign community, I traveled to Ecuador last summer and received far more than I bargained for. The community I was assigned at the foot of the Andes’ mountains was a fun, loving close-knit family of interesting talents and ideas. The microenterprise my partners and I expanded was one with a sustainable intention: we devised a plan that calculated the revenue and growth of the next five years from the sale of pure honey from the village. 

Amigos De Las Americas is an organization that offers youth the opportunity to volunteer in Latin American countries over the summer. Every year, different themes are devised to promote overall social health in developing communities. As a volunteer through AMIGOS, you will find yourself advocating for pressing social issues, such as hygiene and even crucial social involvement like youth entrepreneurship and cultural involvement.

AMIGOS gives young, empowered individuals the ability to be an ambaassador of his or her own culture while embracing another. Not only that, being a volunteer is a learning process; among your duties might be facilitating a discussion for young children about gender equality or even filling out the papers for a grant necessary to build an enterprise. Every volunteer with AMIGOS learns skills for a lifetime, during their summer away.

I often reflect on my path-changing summer in Ecuador and all I took from my time there. There was, of course, breathtaking scenery, but there was much more. Living amongst Ecuador’s indigenous people revealed to me it is possible for members of a community to be genuinely interested in one another. Also, everywhere I go, I now have the skill of beekeeping that my village benevolently taught me. 

I can finally relate to Ecuador’s national movement that is printed in billboards and shirts and match boxes, the expression that keeps Ecuadorians, and now myself, moving: “Sumak Kawsay.” That term is Kichwa for “good living.” It is a living proof that at the equator of the world, the famous “half,” indigenous people turn goodbyes into see-you-laters. Despite humble circumstances, Ecuadorians proudly express their love for life.

If AMIGOS sounds like an opportunity you may be interested in, THIS link is one you should visit: https://amigosinternational.org. It is not too late to begin training for your life-changing summer in a Latin American country of your choice.

We promoted social health in a small outdoor class for kids

My host mother working in the fields

Wisdom HS News
Quilotoa Lake

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A Gorgeous Sky – High in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador