Today was the start of our Community Action Project execution at the school Reyna Paccha. From the moment we stepped off the bus, everyone began working hard, carrying the materials that Jayleen (me), Jane, Ben, Paco, Ms. Pam and Mr. Marc had spent four hours buying the day before with the money that we all donated to the project. We split up into three groups and the students did not hesitate to rise to the occasion. One group sanded down four layers of old paint in preparation for a sealant and moisture absorbing paste, which will help keep the kids warm from the Ecuadorian weather. Another group carried large bags of dirt from one location to another in order to level out the backyard so that the children can have a safe space to play. Finally, the third group constructed a ramp to give kids access to an elevated blacktop safely #RampToHeaven. After a long (but fulfilling) three hours of work, the group bonded over lunch and made jokes about how dusty all the people sanding were. After lunch, a select few (Jayleen, Ben, Leah, Czar and Mr. Marc) stayed behind to finish the ramp and start cleaning the blacktop in preparation for the painting soon to come… At the end of the day, the whole group felt accomplished and ready for the next two days of work.

Upon returning to Hotel Mashany, the English tutoring groups got together to discuss the day’s lesson plan. Last night, the groups discussed what they would like to start doing, continue doing, and stop doing concerning their tutoring to meet our goals. Today, we all applied that feedback to our lessons and continued to see improvement. For example, my group (Julia) often experienced long moments of silence due to our students being shy. We created a new plan in order to get our students involved in the activities and excited about learning English. By putting the students into small groups to work together on interpreting the lesson, they were definitely able to come out of their shells. Each of us are ready to finish strong (we only have two sessions with the kids left!) and take our new found knowledge about teaching and apply it to other areas in our lives.

At tonight’s nightly meeting, we met in small groups to discuss the work of the Southside Chicago nonprofit organization, Sweet Water Foundation. This led to a discussion about food deserts and food justice and how this issue has affected each of us personally. We reflected on the possibility of resolving this problem and who should be held responsible. #MsAmyIsOnIt

Being Lider del Dia was definitely a challenging yet transformative experience. Through this day of added responsibility, we have a new sense of respect for leaders of all forms. For both of us, it was difficult at times to get the group to focus and transition smoothly. Through these difficulties, I (Jayleen) learned that small actions can have bigger consequences. When the group was not listening, I felt like I was not being respected. However, this made me reflect on how I interact with authority figures in my life. As for me (Julia), I was forced out of my comfort zone and had to make myself heard despite being a quiet person. After today, I was able to understand the importance of leadership roles and how I can be a leader more often.


Jayleen Martinez, Noble Street College Prep

Julia Smith from Evanston Township High School

P.S.!!! As we mentioned in our blog “Friendship + Flour = Fun”, our feature in the local newspaper with the title “Chicos de Lejos” (Kids from Afar) was published today!