Hey everyone,

As the leader of the day today, I started my morning before the rest of the group, going to each room to wake people up and make sure they would be on time for breakfast. We ate delicious Ecuadorian bread with cheese, a bowl of fruit, and scrambled eggs. We made sure to thank our new family, the hostel staff, and show our appreciation for the wonderful food and service they provided us.

After breakfast, we went through a mental warm-up to discuss the importance of history, as a means to better understand the culture. As a group, we realized how much history can inform our knowledge and the way we act in the present. After the warm-up, we went through the first-day Program Seminar which included the trip’s rules as well as useful tips for being a “Savvy Traveler.” As a French student who speaks no Spanish, I especially appreciated the several pages of English-to-Spanish translations which are definitely going to be useful throughout the trip.

We finished the morning session with an energizing icebreaker activity to help bring the group together and increase our positivity for the day. I chose a game which involved everyone writing down one fear and then folding the paper and putting it into a hat, to ensure anonymity. We then went in a circle and each person pulled one fear out of the hat. The goal was to read out the fear and then try to personally connect to it, share how you could help anyone in the group with that particular fear, and, lastly, show that nobody here is alone. I chose this game to really strengthen the bonds within our group by showing that we are all nervous about the same things but, as a group, we can minimize those fears by communicating and working together. Right after the energizer, we had an incredible lunch consisting of sausages, beet salad, eggs, and avocado.

The group then got on the bus and traveled about fifteen minutes into downtown Riobamba from our hostel, which is right on the outskirts. We split into four different groups and set out on a scavenger hunt to explore the city and interact with the locals. My group worked together incredibly well and our Spanish speakers stepped up to make sure everyone felt comfortable. We finished the scavenger hunt by meeting in La Plaza Roja where one of our Program Coordinators Jonathan had brought a snack of Cholas, a warm bread baked with brown sugar inside of it.

After we left La Plaza Roja, we headed back to our hostel where we shared a self-reflection to go over our day and internalize what we had seen and experienced together. For dinner, we ate fajitas, potatoes, and salad. Right after dinner, we finished with our nightly meeting in which I gave a brief summary of the day, went through roses and thorns, a game to share what we liked and struggled with that day, and did the nightly plus and wish. The purpose of plus and wish was for the Leader of the Day, the Global Glimpse Leadership Coach, and the group to each share what they believed we had done well today and what we could do better tomorrow. Luckily, we shared mostly pluses and very few wishes (mainly just to drink more water). After that, the Global Glimpse Leadership Coach led a bring it home discussion to further reflect on the day and better connect our experience to our lives back home by considering what was similar and different in our new environment.

I finished my portion of the meeting by handing off the “torch” to tomorrow’s leader of the day, Terrell, after he shared his talent with the group. He finished the meeting by reviewing the plan for tomorrow and going over any important announcements.

What resonated most with me was the importance of using a strong smile when communicating with the locals despite not being able to speak Spanish. It was incredible to see how kind and welcoming all the natives were and it made me feel much more comfortable in our new environment.

Through the scavenger hunt, I realized the importance of working together as a team and making sure everyone feels included and happy at all times. This first day brought us much closer as a group and showed that those around us can help with anything we might be nervous about.

Miss and love you Mom, Dad, and Mickey