We’re your Program Coordinators (or just PCs) Stephanie and Camilo and we’re writing from Guaranda: your soon-to-be headquarters during the life-changing trip you’re about to be part of. We’re truly excited for having you here in Ecuador in just a couple days and we’d like to give you some useful information prior to your arrival. Let’s start by introducing ourselves first:
My name is Stephanie Kridlo and I am from a small town in the Appalachian Mountains of Pennsylvania. From a young age, I knew I wanted to dedicate my life to traveling and making the world a better place in the process, but, before my study abroad experience, I didn’t know how to achieve those goals. A little over two years ago, I spent four months in Ecuador during my university exchange program. I lived and studied with communities in Quito and the Amazon, breaking down the barriers of education and becoming an honorary member of their communities. I discovered the power of sustainable, community-based exchange programs to create positive social and personal change, and I knew I wanted to be a part of that movement. I returned to the U.S. and graduated from American University with a degree in International Relations. From there, I spent a summer in Bolivia working as a program coordinator with the Foundation for Sustainable Development. Now, I’m back in Ecuador in my first year as program coordinator with Global Glimpse, and I could not be happier preparing and facilitating amazing programs for all of you in a place that is so close to my heart.
Hey it’s Camilo Maldonado here, born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela. This is my third year being part of Global Glimpse and I’m as excited as I was the first time back in 2016; seriously, this is by far one of the most meaningful experiences of my life and by the time you leave Ecuador and get back home you’ll understand why. My story is a bit tangled, I left home in 2013 due to a major crisis affecting my country and I haven’t returned ever since. For five years I’ve traveled to several countries looking for a better and safer life, which technically defines me as an immigrant and as such I’ve detached from many things in my life, but adversities aside this is exactly what binds me to you and to the experience you’re about to live. Here’s why: I took a 7-days-long bus ride from my hometown to a new country, full of fears and uncertainty, all by myself… and I do not regret it at all. The things I’ve seen, the people I’ve met, the food, the music, the weather, the dogs, the mountains, the corner shops, the accents. I will never be the same, my perspective on the world that I live in and the people that I meet every day is now more thoughtful and reflective. So if you get to feel the same way after this trip I will consider my job done.
Now in regards to your travel, you should have an official packing list already, however we wanted to highlight a couple of things that are easy to forget but extremely important to bring:
– Sometimes it rains unexpectedly, so bring a poncho, rain jacket and/or umbrella and tough boots or shoes that you would not mind getting mud on.
– Bring plenty of sunscreen! You can get a tan even on a cloudy and foggy day, we can assure you that.
– Bring some clothes that you don’t mind getting very dirty. We will be doing projects in communities that could involve digging, making cement and/or painting.
– Bring allergy medicines in case you might need them.
– Bring a couple of warm jackets as it can be very sunny in the mornings but very cold and windy in the evenings. Windbreakers and layers are a must.
– Bring your curiosity, flexibility and open mind (perhaps filled with some background knowledge on Ecuador).
Through this journey, we hope that this experience will enlighten you, inspire you, and give you fuel to become true Global Citizens in the world and in your communities. Our local partners here are also excited and waiting to meet you! We know that they will be as inspired by you as you by them. As you arrive remember this: our wish for you on this journey is that your curiosity is always greater than your fear, rest assured that we will help you in every step of the way.
Get ready for your minds and hearts to be transformed throughout our time together in Guaranda! Wishing you a safe flight and we’ll see you at the airport very soon!
Stephanie and Camilo