So, we have returned more or less in one piece from the coast after a brief, but well-deserved beach vacation in Atacames.  We returned just in time to hit off MPIE’s annual kid’s summer camp.  The camp, centered around the environment has been a great success so far, with over thirty inscriptions thus far.  Also, aptly themed as we have learned for there is certainly a bit of a deficit in the understanding of the environment and our role in the health and maintanence of it.  To quote one of my favorite campers “everybody keeps saying that the environment is messed up, but I’m like it’s right there!  It’s fine!”  Clearly there is work to be done.  More to come on this in the next post…
In keeping with the theme of last week’s post, here are the rest of new PD’s responses to their first impressions and hopes for the year.

1. What are your personal goals for this year?
Fluency in Spanish. Live more, care less. 
2. Which program are you most excited about?
Microloan and small business development. 
3. Should we get a cat or a dog?
Alpaca. Or cross bred Alpacadog. 
4. What has surprised you most about Ecuador so far? 
The weather is unpredictable due to the drastic change in elevation in different regions. 
5. Describe the weirdest cultural and/or language faux pas you've had so far.
Too many language faux to describe.

1. My personal goal for the year is to become fluent in Spanish.
2. I am most excited about the micro finance program.
3. If we were to get a pet I would prefer a dog.
4. What has surprised me the most about Ecuador has been the overabundance of carbohydrates in every meal.
5. I haven't had a weird cultural experience, other than maybe eating guinea pig.

1. I am looking to improve my Spanish and get a better understanding of Ecuadorian culture through setting up health and language networks in and around the communities where we work.
2. I am most excited to be teaching children both English and Nutrition classes. Working with the kids in different communities and getting Manna’s name out there has me very excited.
3. Doog
4. Most surprising to me is the accessibility and availability of fruits and veggies all over the marketplace. Yes, I can pay $ .25 for an avocado. Thank you
5. Probably trying to play sports or teaching yoga and just completely saying the wrong thing- which in the physical context of sports or doing a pose causes a mistake to be incredibly obvious. You know when you say to put all of your men up in the air and squeeze them together, the difference between hombres and hombros becomes quite accentuated.

1. My goal for the upcoming year to feel like a part of the community I will be working in as many ways as possible. I hope to become fluent (ish) in Spanish and work with my co-workers to add an environmental educational element to the Agricultural program. I would also love to perfect my salsa and travel as much as possible!! 

2. I applied to Manna Project because unlike many other programs out there it allows the Program Directors to work in a collection of different programs. Initially I did not think I wanted to teach English, however after sitting in on some of last semesters classes I think it may be the program I am looking forward to teaching the most. I am also really excited to work with the Agricultural Program and like I said add an environmental education program!

3. BOTH! I am a cat person and proud of it however I love dogs and ideally I would want both.  

4. What has surprised you most about Ecuador so far: This is my second time living in the Quito area, and I studied abroad here in 2011 for 6 weeks, however so many things continue to surprise me. For example the amazing views from everywhere in Los Chillos valley, the lack of good coffee, the amount of people that can be crammed onto a single bus and the wide variety of fruits and vegetables! 

5. I can't really think of one ... although I am still so awkward at greeting people in the customary manner of a kiss on the cheek ...

1. Definitely to become fluent in Spanish.  I also want to learn to assimilate into a different culture as seamlessly as possible.  This will require a hefty tan and much improvement on my Spanish accent.

2. It’s a toss up between yoga and Adult Nutrition.

3. I’m going to have to go with Kirk on the alpaca.  We could shear it and knit sweaters.  Because I can do that.

4.  Well the weather is amazing, so that was a pleasant surprise.  I was also surprised at how delicious Ecuadorean food.  Everyone says I’m crazy but I think cuy is delicious.

5. When attempt to ask a girl in the library if she was a “socio” I accidentally asked if she was a “sucio”.  No bueno.