Some First Impressions

Just over a month into our Manna journey and we are still overwhelmed by the number of new experiences and countless cultural differences Ecuador has to offer.  Here are some thoughts on our first weeks as MPIE's  Program Directors: 

It's been a long but exciting transition into working with Manna, and I am excited to begin getting my hands dirty running programs and working behind the scenes to make Manna function at its best. In the past month I've been an English teacher, plumber, chef, expert at playing Uno, librarian, and so much more that I never thought I would experience, all of which have grown me and shown me that I am capable of more than I imagined. I am so excited to see what surprises and adventures the rest of my time at Manna with hold.
      - Carley Clement  

People from home constantly ask, "So, how's Ecuador?" I guess i could jokingly say, "Come for the mountains, stay for the fruit juice," as there is way too much to say in attempts to explain my experience so far. After learning multiple "Ecuadorian remedies", repeatedly ordering the wrong thing in restaurants and being put to shame in several salsa clubs, I've definitely enjoyed my first encounters with Ecuadorian culture.  Not only have I  fallen in love with the country, but our transition into Manna life has definitely kept us busy.  After two weeks of summer camp, it's been great getting to know the kids and I can't wait to become more invested in my long-term programs.  Additionally, I'm extremely excited for our group to start traveling and get some second impressions of this country! 
    - Sydney McKenney 

After almost five weeks in Ecuador, I am struck by the beauty of this country and its people!  It has been an exhausting but incredible transition.  After a week in Quito and then a week in the Valley, both with host families, we are finally settled into the Manna house.  It was so wonderful to have the old PDs show us the ropes and it was sad to see them go!  However, I'm definitely ready to begin.  Unpacking and moving into my new room was a surprisingly enjoyable task after living out of my suitcase for a month!  I am absolutely loving the abundance of avocados and other fruits and am excited to try my hand at making some traditional Ecuadorean meals very soon!  Luna, our house dog, is also making the move here a little easier by providing some puppy love.  With only five of us volunteers we are all pretty busy.  Summer camp began this week and is in the mornings and then we all are working in the Manna Library almost every afternoon.  But the kids are great and so far camp has been organized chaos full of English lessons, art projects and dancing- overall a great success!  I am so excited to begin my selected programs next month and continue getting to know the community members and Ecuador!   
       - Amelia Hulbert