Hello readers! My name is Hannah Palin and I am one of the people who will be taking over the Manna Project blog this year. (Noel, the other blogger, will introduce herself in the next post.) I just graduated from Vanderbilt University this May with a double major in Spanish & Psychology. I participated in MPI through Vanderbilt’s campus chapter and decided that I would love to take a year off after college and to see another part of the world (especially before applying to grad school, or as I like to call it, big kid school). As of right now the new Program Directors (9 of us in all) are just getting settled into the Manna House and still learning about the organizational and programmatic roles we will be taking on this year. So far we have said goodbye to a few of the “veteran PDs” (NOT old PDs, they don’t like that phrase – just as I am sure I will not at this time next year) while some of them are still co-habitating with us. It has been a good transition, I know many of us were very ready to move into Conocoto after two weeks in Quito.
The first two weeks of our time here in Ecuador were spent in home stays with lovely families chosen for us by Luis, the owner/operator of the Guayasamin Spanish language school. If there is anything that will make you lose faith in your Spanish speaking abilities it is Spanish language school. I am pretty sure my Spanish is regressing as I pass the time attempting to remember whether or not I should use the pluscamperfecto or imperfecto subjuntivo. Is it conocer or saber that I am supposed to use when I am saying that I know something? Thankfully my profesora loved to play Scrabble and we passed the last hour picking Spanish letters out of a green bag. There is a large chance that she made up some vocabulary while we played because I usually had no idea what half the words meant.
Every day after class the 9 of us met with Bibi, our country director, and some of the veteran PDs (almost wrote old PDs). We learned a lot about the programs that we would be taking over and also found that there is a plethora of diverse food in Quito. Every day the PDs would bring in some other exotic food for us to drool over – sushi, burritos, empanadas, salads, etc. In the evenings and on the weekends, we were left to our own devices and managed to find some fun things to do. A few days we went out to lunch/dinner but, the highlight of our time in Quito was a trip to a Liga versus Barcelona game (the two biggest soccer teams in Ecuador). We bartered for our tickets, bought jerseys in bulk and Brock and I were even highlighted in the Quito newspaper (see picture above in Jackie’s post). All in all, a great experience.
This week has been a little more program focused and I am sure that soon I will have amazing updates, especially because we have some more in depth talks with Bibi coming up in the next week. That, and we have summer camp that started this past Monday! Can’t wait to keep you all updated on our adventures. Thanks for reading.
BesosCiaoCiao (As Chet would say)…