Tuesday was our first day of service at the school and the first day we made the hike up the mountain to get to the school. Walking up the hill I was anxious to see what was at the top, what did the school look like? What were the kids like? The views walking up that morning were breathtaking, the green was so powerful and the feeling of being consumed by nature made every morning a good day to wake up. When we finally arrived at the top we were assigned children to look after for a week, I had two shy little boys Wilson and Paul. We wasted no time, I helped unload the pieces of the playground and starting painting the new monkey bars and swing set a royal blue. At first I was shy about the situation but I soon warmed up and went and helped the local men dig for dirt to make the new soccer field wall. I started to socialize with them using the little spanish I knew and soon I was teaching them english words. They wanted to learn English and I wanted to learn Spanish. It was a unique experience. It was unlike my abroad semester in Europe because everyone there could speak english plus their mother tongue perfectly. Here we were both in the same situation and I understood how they felt about learning.
For lunch Xavier and Chiri’s mother brought the whole school plus the Lasell group a pork lunch. Soon we learned that the children don’t usually receive lunch during the day like they were getting. Everyday I only ate half of my lunch and gave the rest to the kids, they needed it more than I did. I stayed late that day to help finish up the playground and as I was walking down the mountain to the house I found some other Lasell kids hovered around a small creature in the middle of the dirt road. It was a small 3-4 week old puppy on the verge of death. Nobody knew what to do or if they should do anything. I made the decision at that time that I was going to be the change that I wanted to see and my friend Yalitza and I moved the dying puppy onto my green poncho and we both hurried down the mountain to save the puppy’s life. At the house we laid him down in the shade and began giving him water. After 20 minutes of forcing him to drink water he was conscious and moving. We found him a small cardboard box and made him a comfortable bed out of paper.
In Ecuador and in most of South American culture, there is little to no respect for animals. Dogs in Ecuador are like the pigeons of NYC. They are everywhere and since these dogs are not spay or neutered the dog population is out of control. The little puppy was left on the mountain to die in the sun. We tried the best we could to rehabilitate little Pedro Sinche, meaning strong in Quichuan. He died the next day in his comfortable box. Even though he died, we showed compassion to a community who is so used to ignoring the rights of animals.
Wednesday was the best day of the trip. Our group was developing a family dynamic and we were becoming closer and closer with each hour. We continued our work at the school, finished painting the outside walls a nice turquoise color, began making the dirt wall for the soccer field boundary and cleaned the classroom. While cleaning the classroom I noticed they had a globe of the world in the corner. While I was looking at it the maestro (teacher), Spirito came over and began talking to me. Only speaking spanish I was able to show him where we had traveled from. He didn’t know which boundary was Canada’s, Mexico’s or even the United States, which surprised me. I showed him the different countries and eventually pointed to Boston. It was crazy to think that the people I as meeting were so rural that they didn’t even know the U.S shape or location. This was a perspective-changer for sure, making me realize the world is so diverse and different depending on where you go. I had assumed for Spirito to know where the U.S was. At that moment my bubble was popped.
Our service had concluded for the day and all of us including Xavier and Marco were walking down the mountain together. Xavier began to whistle Yellow Submarine which then started a game of guess the song. By the end of hike down we were all singing together. From “Build Me Up Buttercup” to the Disney Mulan theme song we were singing and laughing together, one of my favorite moments of the whole trip. We kept the good vibes going all throughout the evening with Professor Guzman teaching us how to dance the salsa and samba, going for a shower in the river, and learning the Ecuadoran version of hopscotch. It was such a fun day.