Today, we began with a staple of Guaranda; tortillas, a delicious blend of corn and cheese that gave us energy for the long day ahead. We then made our way to the Las Gradas community where our future CAP (Community Action Project) project will take place. The school of Las Gradas was historic and dated with unique features like a large soccer field. We observed large broken windows and many needed repairs. Nevertheless, the classrooms and courtyard we filled with happy and curious children. We were allowed to ask the children questions about their school and typical day. There were not many responses, but their respectful attitude showed us that they cared about deepening their understanding our purpose for being there.

While the principal of the school, Gernan, gave us a tour of the campus, we met the youngest students. Without even knowing our names, the children sat with us, played with our hair, and hugged us. It opened our eyes to how kind, curious, and welcoming the community was. We had a blast playing games with them, such as racing melon-like pumpkins, piggy back rides, blob tag, and more!

After our time with the younger students, we visited the garden where the community harvested uvillas and more. However, the community faces a problem with animals destroying the crops, which decreases the amount able to be harvested. Therefore, for our CAP project, we will build a fence around the perimeter of the crops in order to prevent this from happening. The planning stage has just begun and we are confident that it will be a success. That evening, we completed a second successful day of English tutoring that was filled with engaging games, activities, and lessons.

In short, we learned about the significance of education and culture in the path to success. Additionally, we discovered the challenges that face students in Ecuador and how factors such as transportation and food can affect a student’s daily life. Our eyes were opened to know how difficult it was for many students to show up to class and what factors may affect their future education. We are so thankful for the experience that the people of Las Gradas gave us and what we have learned from them.