Estamos en la Mitad del Mundo!

Here is a touching blog from Nicole about the Children's Art field trip to the Equator:

It all began with Wendy and a game of Monopoly. Wendy, one of our most dedicated regulars, and I were playing Monopoly with a few other kids in the library. We were using the Teen Center’s Ecuador-themed Monopoly, which is composed completely of popular sites and cities in Ecuador. The two most coveted by all potential property-owners are Mitad del Mundo – a monument that was built on the Equator in Quito – and the Galapagos Islands; Park Place and Boardwalk, respectively. Jonathan was lucky enough to land on the Galapagos early on and, like any wise investor, went bankrupt in purchasing it, but offered the rest of us discounted trips. I exclaimed that I was jealous and that I wanted to go to the Galapagos. Within half of a second, Wendy responded in the most innocent voice, with even more excitement than I could ever hope to muster: “I want to go to Mitad del Mundo!” It was just one of those moments. It was February and after 7 months of living in Ecuador, I had been to Mitad del Mundo twice while Wendy, after 9 years growing up in Ecuador, had never made it to the north part of the city and it was one of her biggest wishes.

I could not shake that moment – and still can’t, for that matter. I began thinking of possibilities to get this little girl to the middle of the world. A week or so later, Taylor and I met to plan out our art schedule and projects for the year. We decided that we wanted to implement an art field trip of some kind at the end of the quarter for those who had attended a certain number of classes. And we immediately knew where we were headed. We talked about fundraising options and were so lucky to have the support of Taylor’s parents, Mr. & Mrs. Brown, who were visiting at the time. They heard the story about Wendy and offered to pay for the paseo. The kids were thrilled about the news and I had never seen Wendy’s shy little smile so full of joy…until we actually got to Mitad del Mundo, then that first smile was blown out of the water.

So last Friday, during the one-week break between quarters, we took 7 kids who had attended over 9 classes to the north side of Quito, a much, much, much longer trip than expected. Still, the kids were such good sports, freaking out to see the Panecillo, pretending the police were after them, proudly bragging if we passed something they had seen before, and simultaneously putting so many things in perspective for me. The rain that persisted through the buseta ride came to an end right before we arrived and we could barely contain the kids as the ran around screaming, requesting pictures, and announcing to all that they were at Mitad del Mundo. It might have been the best thing that I have ever witnessed. After lots of playground time, pictures, a museum, and bathroom trips, we loaded up with chifles and water to start the long trek back to the Centro. Standing in the parking lot as we piled in to the buseta, I felt a tug on my hand and Wendy stood on her tip-toes to whisper in my ear “Thank you, really, thank you”. And I was reminded of how simple things like art class are really so much more.

Taylor and I could not have been more pleased with the paseo…as well as to finally get home from it! This quarter we are taking on music from around the world and our fingers are tightly crossed to be able to take the kids on another trip.

 Ready for the long buseta ride

 One foot in each hemisphere

Learning about the Equator

"Estamos en la mitad del mundo!"