(No internet yesterday! Sorry for the delay!)
Ironically, many students in America don’t think too deeply about their education. They take for granted the benefits of their schooling, and don’t pause to wonder whether their educational obstacles exist outside of their own microcosm. Though I formerly belonged to that category of “many students”, my beliefs were challenged today as our group explored the theme of education. Our first speaker, Professor Lopez, was a teacher at the San Francisco University at Quito, and had experience in the educational systems of both Ecuador and the United States. Her primary goal was to show us both the similarities and differences between Ecuadorian and American learning systems. In conjunction with the mental warm-up of the day, she led us through the educational life of a typical Ecuadorian student. While some aspects of it (uniform, early specialization, and previous gender divides, to name a few) seemed alien to us, many parts of the issues that bar Ecuadorians children from receiving a quality education seemed all too familiar, particularly money. This tied into a more sobering portion of the group discussion, in which a correlation between illiteracy and race in Ecuador was established. The notion that this type of discrimination could be distilled down to raw numbers was shocking to many of us.
With these thoughts in mind, we continued our day by visiting the high school of one of our Global Glimpse Leaders, Fernanda. It was simultaneously thought-provoking and intriguing, as we found ourselves wondering how many of those students had faced the same obstacles that we had just recently explored. For me, this was also one of the most personally challenging parts of the day: standing in front of a class of children and attempting to explain the goals of Global Glimpse…in Spanish. This was a humbling experience, as I realized that though my listening skills were passable, I still had a long ways to go with my speaking.
My Spanish skills were once again called into action during today’s English tutoring session. This time around, many of us felt more confident, and any minor setbacks were easily compensated by the flash of understanding in a student. By providing these lessons, we were trying to break down the obstacles that keep the people of Riobamba from an education in English. We did not turn people away based on how much money they earn, or where they live, or what they looked like. By doing this, we tried to create a learning experience unmarred by these problems which manifest themselves elsewhere on a daily basis.
Being El Lider del Dia was, to say the least, eye-opening. On one hand, it certainly raised my awareness of the consequences of our actions: taking up the entire sidewalk now seemed more of an inconvenience to the locals instead of a way to spend time with my friends. But it also gave me the space to see things outside of my own inner bubble. Instead of focusing on which ice cream to buy, I laughed as Emanuel and Allen bought bags upon bags of bread. Instead of zoning out on the bus, I witnessed the gorgeous view of Mount Chimborazo. Instead of keeping my face in my vegetarian plate at lunch, I moved around, asking people how their meals were. Together, these deviations from my usual perceptions allowed me to connect more with my peers, and get a sense of how everyone else was experiencing the same moment.
Overall, one of the largest successes of today was that we were able to relate more closely to the people of Ecuador. Listening to college students speak, finding similarities in educational models, and even the simple act of mutual communication helped reinforce the idea that while we may be from vastly different backgrounds, we share basic, common connections. Global Glimpse recognizes this as a learning goal. Personally, I find that beautiful.
“You guys went to the movies without me! Hurtful! I tried calling you today, but no one picked up ): I’ll try again another time. I love you all sooo much & I’ll talk to you soon! Slaapwal” – Laynie
“Hey guys, today I did a college tour! It was a university in Riobamba. The campus is so pretty. It was cool how they have a dog that lives on campus. Her name is Eli, and she is a golden retriever. I will show you pics when I get back. We also had our second class. My class, with Jacob and Erica, grew from 9 students to 15, which is awesome. It is fun teaching them English. Love you guys!” –Abbie
“Hello everyone! I’m glad I called mom today, but I’m pretty sure I woke her up from her regular nap. Sorry not sorry. At any rate, I’ll be calling back soon!” –Anthony
“Hi guys! Mom, I’m so glad your cast is finally off! Love and miss you guys! Will be calling soon!” –Marcus
“Miss all you guys back home! Hope you guys are having fun this summer. Can’t wait to show some of the crazy stuff I’ve done here!” – Emanuel
“Thanks to Emanuel and Arjun for the smoothies today. They were really delicious, and that was really thoughtful of you guys.” – Hector
“To my family + Alondra: like always, I just wish that I could’ve spoken to you longer. I had so much to say! Today I particularly enjoyed touring the college; specifically, it was interesting seeing the English teachers learning how to speak Spanish. I miss you, and hope to talk to you soon!” – Arjun