Manna has taught me a lot of stuff. A lot of it I never thought I'd need to learn. Like how to gracefully fall out of an overcrowded bus, or how to build a greenhouse out of plastic bottles, or how to pretend you know how to teach an exercise class to a room full of elderly diabetic women. Mostly it has taught me to question myself less--to just go for it and share the things I am most passionate about. I came into Manna being vaguely interested in way too many things, and am leaving Manna knowing with a very uncharacteristic degree of certainty that I want to pursue a career in nutrition policy and intervention. I'm also leaving knowing that I'll be back one day, which is a good feeling. Knowing me, I will probably miss all of the things that tended to drive me a bit crazy from time to time-- the pescado man, the endless bus rides, Pilsener, and the library kids who won't stop asking how many minutes until they can play on the compu. And Luna. I'll definitely miss Luna.
plans after manna: second year PD.
things i'm going to miss: claudia, heather, taylor, carryn, cate, torie, abby
In these last seven months I have had the opportunity to challenge myself in new ways both professionally and personally. During my time with Manna I had the joy of meeting new people, experiencing new cultures and exploring a new part of the world. While here I was pushed to think outside the box in many aspects of life. I am going to miss the pace of life here and I will especially miss the friends that I've made. This time of living and working in Ecuador has helped me realize what I want to do in the future. I am excited to return to the US to start nursing school and am looking forward to all of the challenges that lay ahead of me there!
What I've learned: Too many things. Patience for sure, and other great virtues like how to be more caring and aware of those around me.
Future plans: No set plans. Find a job in the public health field, take the GRE, fun things like that.
What I will miss: Ceviche, tortillas, and Mateo.
It is impossible to sum up in words what I gained from my experience with Manna Ecuador, except to say that I am taking with me some incredible memories, impactful life lessons and a stronger sense of self. In the coming months, as I continue my travels in South America (and hopefully beyond), I look forward to testing out all that I learned in Ecuador. I will never forget the close connections I made with such a vibrant community and I will thoroughly miss the amazing people I had the priveledge to meet... and maybe even miss the occasional "PROFE!!!"...
What I learned from Manna: How to manage my time (with an agenda!), how to work from home and be productive, and how to be flexible. I learned how to live and work with 9 strangers for a year. I learned how to make cheese, humitas, and ceviche (not really from Manna, but from Ecuadoreans).
Future plans: In the near future, I'm traveling for 2 months with the lovely Heather Smith through Peru, Bolivia, and Chile. From there, I plan to go back to the states in October, spend some time with family in Philadelphia, and eventually I hope to get a job in New York City.
What I'll miss: speaking Spanish all the time, the people, the country, the community center, and above all..... Ecuadorean ceviche!
It is truly impossible to find the words to describe my time here, everything I have learned, and all the amazing people I have met have changed me for the better and I am beyond grateful for the experience. Lessons from my work with the Manna community include mad Uno skills, yelling/joking/laughing with kids in Spanish, organization and time management (even when everything around you seems doesn't seem to want to work), patience (especially during inscriptions time) and making friendships in unexpected ways. My future plans include traveling south through South America until I run out of money and then living in my parents basement preparing for grad school, a job, or whatever the world has to throw at me. I will miss too many things to say, including views of Cotopaxi from my window, mi hija Luna (aka our dog), my crazy roommates, the amazing families that have taken me in and fed me like one of their own throughout the year, the kiddos in the library, street food, weekend trips, and the view from the Manna biblo roof top.