On our first full day in Riobamba, we participated in various activities but the focal point of day three was the city tour. The tour consisted of a scavenger hunt which was definitely fun but exhausting. We broke into teams, each lead by one GGL and one program coordinator. My team began by visiting “Plaza Roja,” a vital place in the history of Riobamba. I enjoyed the scavenger hunt because it managed to challenge me both physically and mentally. I also found it somewhat awkward having to talk to the locals because some were not very interested while others were kind and helpful in helping a group of bright students complete a scavenger hunt.

What stood out to me the most about today was truly understanding how much compassion and care the adults have for us. Throughout the day, they were checking in with everyone and making sure everyone felt comfortable. I believe this was special because I was nervous coming in and wondering how much the adults would truly look out for us. Essentially, students were always in the eyesight of a staff member which really made me feel safe in the large downtown area because it was crowded and hard to navigate. Personally, that was crucial because I had never traveled without my parents but I did get a parental feeling because of how much they looked out for us.

The key takeaway was getting to not only learn about the culture of Riobamba but feeling welcomed and invited everywhere we went. We experienced the presence of the Spanish influence within Ecuadorian culture yet saw the indigenous roots retained in the culture which generated syncretism between the two.  I really appreciated the sense of security that comes along with our two week program. In the city center we were able to directly connect with the community because of what we had learned the previous day with the dance and the practices. All in all, I think everyone is learning a lot but also enjoying themselves at the same time which is very important.

Somewhat missing home,

Alex Flores

Learning about “Plaza Roja”

Safety Seminar

Bus ride from hotel to city center