The quote of the day was “The first duty of a man is to think for himself,” and I can say with sincerity that today was among one of the first days where I thought about the impact that our choices have, as
well as the importance of being informed about global affairs.
Today’s topic was Politics and Global Business, a hefty topic– especially because the day was supposed to be for two leaders, and it was just little ole me running the show! Anyway, after waking up at 6:20 a.m. and having to wake up the delegation, we had breakfast before embarking on an hour bus ride to a quinoa factory in Cajabamba run by COPROBICH. Coprobich is a corporation of like-minded farmers who want to promote fair trade and fair prices for local farmers, as they are often exploited by more prominent and money-hungry corporations. As soon as we got there, wet shoes and all, we were presented with a lengthy slideshow surrounding the practices of the corporation, as well as the hardships that they face when selling to international markets. After the presentation, we were led into their factory donned in face masks and hairnets to get a more close up and intimate look at the way that quinoa is processed and packaged.
After the short thirty minute tour of sorts, we all happily supported Coprobich by buying bagged organic quinoa (I bought three!!). I also met this super cool student from France that was interning at the factory for school. She didn’t speak too much English, but she taught me a few French words (je t’aime to all my buddies who wrote to me on the blogs ❤️❤️)! Stuffing our book bags with quinoa, we were transported to a quinoa farm where local farmers grew their crops, and learned more about the process of growing organic crops before having a hearty lunch of soup and beef at Nativa.
For me, the presentation showed me how even the smallest of decisions can manifest into more pronounced issues. To buy a non-organic apple grown with pesticides at Trader Joe’s simply for the sake of frugality was, unbeknownst to me, an action with consequences that had global implications– it hurt the livelihood of local farmers and allowed the corporations that use chemicals to grow their food and corporations that exploit these farmers to burgeon and spread their shady practices to different corners of the world. Understanding this was key to understanding how our consumer practices affect things on a global scale, and the importance of thinking for ourselves to make more informed and globally aware decisions.
After seeing the super adorable indigenous women farmers and learning about the issues of the international market and their exploitation of local farmers in regards to unfair prices and guidelines, I feel much more inclined to skip that apple at Trader Joe’s in favor of an organic and globally conscious piece of fruit.
After we left Nativa, we immediately returned to our hostel in Riobamba and were faced with another presentation, this time about politics in Ecuador. The first speaker spoke about a school in Ecuador that taught young students how to be more effective leaders (sound familiar?) in order to promote an Ecuadorian style of government that was based more on merit and intellectual ability than anything else.
The second presenter also focused on politics, however mostly on the difficulties that women in Ecuador face in regards to participating in politics in Ecuador. The second presenter’s name was Carmen, and she was the first woman elected president of her province in Ecuador. She explained the difficulties that she faced upon entering office, including discrimination on the basis of her gender, and how she faced these issues headstrong in an attempt to encourage other women to participate more in politics despite the discrimination and hardships that they will inevitably face. It caused our delegation to draw parallels between styles of governance in the US and Ecuador, and the progressive approach that these two countries are slowly adopting to combat sexual discrimination in political affairs.
After the two presentations, it was go-time. We only had an hour to complete our English plans, which meant an hour of sheer resilience and manpower to complete the plan as well as the materials that we needed for the day. After an hour of furiously drawing pictures of clothes and BINGO grids, the delegation went on to teach their estudiantes at Colegio Miguel Angel León. For many of us, today went a lot more smoothly than the day before. I almost know all of my students’ names!!!
Tired and burnt out, we returned to the hostel for dinner. It was fairly standard, aside from a mini argument among the students about whether or not the protein we were given was fish or pork. It ended up being fish, but I didn’t care too much anyway– it was super yummy y’all!
Tonight, the takeaway was to be more globally informed in order to make decisions that would prove to be beneficial to the world, rather than promote the atrocious practices of a handful of corporations in the international markets. Before you can lead others, you have to think for yourself, and make choices that you can say with sincerity were made with thought and compassion for others. It’s all a part of being a global citizen!
P.S. once again, thank you to all who wrote me a comment on the blogs! i enjoy hearing them every night. to mom, pops, auntie and vi, im having a blast over here in ecuador and i miss you all very dearly. food here is great, but i miss cooking back at home. i can’t wait to hear all of your voices and see all of your smiles again. love you guys! ❤️❤️
P.S.S. there aren’t too many shops to buy shirts and stuff around here, so i’ll be bringing home a bunch of knick knacks an d keychains for you guys if i end up not finding any. hope that’s okay, peace out y’all!