For the first few weeks, I felt like I was not doing much to serve the Quiteno community and this was mostly because the program was super disorganized. I spent my first week in Spanish classes and building up a sexual health lesson plan for the high school students, but the second week I found out that it is illegal to teach sexual health without having a certificate from the Ecuadorian Ministry of Health. This was one of the major disappointments that I’ve felt during my internship, and it was very much early on. After this happened, my peers and I spoke to our local coordinator in order to change our schedules to reflect and represent our various interests. I am now working for another organization: Fundacion Ecuatoriana EQUIDAD. EQUIDAD works with the LGBT community and recently held the Orgullo 2014 (Pride parade in Quito). Hopefully, my time and work with EQUIDAD will be better and show my service to the Quiteno community.
As for burnout and exhaustion, I have managed to use my time as efficiently as possible. The only exhaustion I’ve experienced is probably due to the altitude change as well as change in diet. With balancing my professional and personal lives, I have been able to keep them a bit separate and not let one interfere too much with the other.
My struggles have influenced my viewpoint in the sense that I am more open to different opportunities and work. Also, I have noticed the pros and cons with volunteer tourism. In a sense, I notice the actions of my fellow peers who have different intentions while serving Quito. The positive and affirming changes occurring in me include being a bit more open-minded and relaxed about unexpected circumstances that I have no control over.
I have definitely seen progress in my goals – especially the one about authentic relationships and building trust with my peers. I can also see how my perception of Quito and Ecuador in general has evolved as I spent more time here. My goals have not changed, but I have added some new ones. I hope to create a safe space for the LGBT community here in Ecuador – being a Catholic country and all. I’ve felt that as time passes my goals become more specific and meaningful.
This internship has only strengthen my beliefs about poverty, justice and human capabilities. In the same way that Sam has noticed income inequality in Ghana, I have, too, in Ecuador. The more I listen to citizens’ situations, lifestyles, and everyday life, the more I can notice the huge gap. Another thing, this one dealing with justice, the current president has been re-elected for his third term when the law says that a president can only serve for two terms. In addition to this level of corruption, I have noticed the level of corruption in cities and within the local government. As for human capabilities, everything I’ve witnessed in Quito reflects what we’ve learned in class. I keep having conversations with some doctors about the ability of a teen mom to make it out of her situation and reach success and each one talks about the different circumstances that each teen lives with daily, and how it depends a lot on preceding factors such as family’s income. I am hoping to do some research about organizations that help with these kinds of situations and represent the human capabilities side of everyday lives.