As Miley Cyrus once said, “It’s always gonna be an uphill battle” just as it was to wake up at 5:30 am. After our early start, we were greeted by a meal of platanos and eggs, especially planned by Chef Cesar, to provide us fuel for hiking up the tallest volcano in Ecuador: Mount Chimborazo. We took to the bus to the first refuge at Chimborazo, which was at 4800 meters high. At the location, we took a group photo against the majestic snow-capped mountain. There we also witnessed the GOE Rescate police group prepare for a practice rescue.

We hopped back in to the bus to meet up at our hiking destination. The hike proved to be one of the most difficult and fun experiences of the day: hence the theme of today’s activity: Fun Day #1! We started the hike in a barren landscape with vicunas (a llama-like animal with deer-like features) in the background. Some of the Glimpsers thought they had discovered a new species. But the Chimborazo tour guides quickly informed us that they are native to the area. We were most surprised by the various climate changes of the mountain. We experienced frigid and windy weather first, followed by dry and sandy wind, ending the hiking in a steep, grassy plain.

Besides the beautiful scenery, what was more touching was the sight of our group members conquering this hike, despite the feelings of uncertainty and effects of the altitude. Our peers embodied the definition of perseverance as they completed the one-hour hike back to the safety of the bus. We followed the hike with lunch at Café Restaurante called La Tertulia. There we enjoyed a comforting meal of potato and avocado soup with a main course of custom pollo gisao with rice and pasta salad.

We returned to the bus where we could get a short nap before rushing out to English tutoring. Despite the lack of rest, it was a successful session and full of engaging lessons. Groups used new strategies like playing games, teaching more advanced grammar, and getting to know the students better. Today there was an increase in class size, and we were able to feel like we were making an impact on the youth of Riobamba.

Being the Leaders of the Day widened our lenses to the work that goes into being an effective leader. Although it was stressful and difficult at times, we realized that even with challenges a person can still inform, inspire, and engage. #iwokeuplikethis #aplatanoateaplatano

Ymari Ramos, Mariana Bracetti Academy Charter School

Adriana Coman, Deerfield High School