Mariana is from New York. She volunteered at a school in Ecuador with the World Endeavors Teaching volunteer program.
What did you to do in a typical day at your volunteer placement?
I’d spend the first couple hours after arriving at the school working with one to three students based on ability on various tasks such as basic math, reading and writing. Then I’d usually spend the last hour or two teaching my class basic English.
Where did you live while you were in Ecuador?
I lived in a home stay in a residential neighborhood in Guayaquil. My host family was incredibly kind and friendly.
What was your favorite part of your volunteer work?
It was great working with children, and that I also had the flexibility some afternoons to join other volunteers who worked at an orphanage in addition to my teaching work.
Why did you choose to go abroad through World Endeavors?
After researching several programs, I felt World Endeavors had the greatest variety of programs available, the most flexibility and the staff was incredibly friendly and professional.
What did you do in the evenings or on weekends? Did you get a chance to travel?
Evenings would vary between quiet dinners with other volunteers or (as I spoke fluent Spanish) hanging out with locals. Staying in and watching movies was also common. I spent a weekend each in nearby Quito and Lima, Peru.
What advice would you give to someone going to Ecuador?
If possible, make time to see more of the country outside the city you’ll be working in. For such a small country, Ecuador has such an astonishing range of scenery, culture and activities to offer.
What was a typical meal? What were your favorite foods?
Typical meals were empanadas or rice, soup and stewed chicken or beef. Yummy, cheap Chinese places also abounded. My host mother would make a huge breakfast for me every morning! It was a lovely way to begin the day. I also had some excellent ceviche while there.
Any funny language barrier stories or travel mishaps?
Since I speak fluent Spanish, I got along in Ecuador easily. The rickety old Datsun taxis (some literally held together with duct tape) provided a few white-knuckle rides across town at times!
What are you doing now?
I’m in the process of starting my own children’s non-profit, to help children both abroad and at home.
How do you think your time abroad impacted your future plans or general outlook?
I definitely want to expand my horizons and continue volunteering abroad, as well as encouraging others to do it whenever possible.