Vandy Spring Break 2013

Leah summing it all up for us:

It’s been a few days since I returned to the real world of classes and exams after an incredible week in Ecuador with Manna Project International. This trip really was the perfect way to spend my spring break. It was the perfect combination of service, sightseeing, cultural immersion, and group bonding. Ecuador is an absolutely beautiful country. Everywhere you look, there are endless mountain ranges and amazing landscapes. We were able to go into Quito and see the city from the top of the Basilica. Wandering through the markets and streets and traveling by bus each day was a great way to interact with people and get a broad picture of the culture. I definitely can’t complain about the food, either. We tried everything from empanadas to ice cream (multiple times), and I loved pretty much all of it. 
With regards to our service work, I really felt like we were able to make a significant, positive impact with the short time we had in Ecuador. Getting to see the complete transformation of the library as a result of our hours of painting and organization was awesome, especially when we could see how excited it made the kids. Interacting with these children was by far my favorite part of what we were doing, such as sitting in on an English class that a Program Director was teaching and throwing a big “fiesta” for the kids on our last day there. They were all so enthusiastic and eager to interact with us that it made our work very special. I can’t say enough about the things we did in Ecuador, the people we worked with (shoutout to our amazing Program Directors), and our extremely close group (I already miss our various nightly bonding activities). Manna really made my spring break unique and wonderful.

Delayed post from Monica

Other than the breathtakingly beautiful sceneries of the mountains, the people themselves had made me fall in love with Ecuador. From the moment we landed, the woman who was standing in line behind us was excited to share her enthusiasm about our trip to Sangolqui. She was born and raised in Ecuador and wanted us to experience her home country and was confident we would enjoy our trip. She was not the only person who was passionate about her country; when we were on the bus, the women I’ve met were always maternal and passionate about promoting their own small towns. One woman who lived near the Colombian border wanted me to see a cemetery and was adamant about my going there to see the sunset. It was strange, but nice. However, my favorite Ecuadorian was a teacher who taught ten year olds all different subjects. Although my Spanish is not up to par, she was patient and constantly motivated me to practice. She was very loving and was trying to tell me how to cook Locro de papa and we talked about her three daughters. When it was her stop, she gave me a warm pat, a kiss on the cheek and I just felt that it was like home.
Furthermore, when I visited the school for a nutrition class, I had a pleasant surprise when the children came up and hugged me, who was a complete stranger. They hung onto me as if I were a tree and was excited to play. When I visited the school for the second time to advertise the party, they were much more friendly and we joked around by playing tag. From the children to the adults, Ecuador definitely is a colorful city filled with amazing people that match the beautiful sights that surround us.


Hola amigos!!!

Greetings from Quito, Ecuador! It’s been a crazy couple of days for our group here at 0 degrees latitude. After arriving in Quito super super late on Saturday night (we arrived at the Manna house around midnight), on Sunday we had a blast seeing our home for the week. We went through the market in Sangolqui (the highlight being the live chickens in bags, cats in bins, and ducks in boxes…also the ice cream shop that has been there for 60 years did us some good too). 

After about a 30 minute bus ride into the city of Quito, we grabbed lunch and climbed the towers of the landmark basilica in “old town.” If you dared to walk the steps to the top, the view was, needless to say, breathtaking (which is pretty common here at 9000 feet above sea level). The next day (Monday, which is part of our weekend here), we spent seeing another side of Quito. We hit up the market and bought you all some fantastic Ecuadorian presents, and for ourselves, the ever popular alpaca sweater. We then made our way to a beautiful park for our lunch picnic and various interactions with confused Ecuadorians regarding that brown pigskin thing we were throwing around. 

Yesterday, we began our work project, repainting the library, at the community center. So far so good in this arena—awesome forest green and sky blue walls, flag paintings, and sunset murals now enhance the library experience for children and adults alike. We’ve also had a great time getting to know one another through overcrowded busses, entertaining rounds of catchphrase, and intense questioning while in “the hot seat.” The weather has been no less than perfect, and we could not have dreamed for this trip to begin any better than it has! And don’t worry, we’ll write again soon!

Hasta luego!!

Vanderbilt Mannanites