“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” –George Orwell, author of the book 1984.

Hello from the middle of the world! We have been inspired by our first full day in Guaranda, where we focused a lot on the history of Ecuador so that we can build genuine cross cultural community.

We started by having an amazing breakfast at Estancia with our wonderful cook Ana.  We are so lucky in that we have one of the best cooks in all of Guaranda. Today, we had herbal tea, fresh fruit (the papaya was our personal favorite), yogurt, granola, as well as eggs, ham, and bread to make our own breakfast sandwiches. Then, we headed back to the community gathering space in our hostel to discuss our community norms. We all shared what would help build familia (family) with each other, but we will say that everyone is already becoming so close! To complete our agreements, we used the Nigerian tradition of standing in a circle, jumping forward, and yelling Ashé!  Ashé means “And let it be so.”

Our agreements!

The group then spent time getting a tour of the city that will be our home for the next two weeks. We met a stray dog that Serena decided to name “Spike,” and Spike followed us around for most of the day. It was sometimes quite distracting trying to learn about the history of Ecuador when Spike was upstaging our PC Joshua. Sometimes Spike even brought friends over! (Don’t worry, no one is touching or petting Spike or his friends).

Joshua trying to speak with Spike stealing the show.

One highlight of the day was spending time at the market. We split into three groups, and each group got two dollars to in order to become a casero, or people who come to buy food. We all decided to buy interesting fruits. We ended up with pineapple (we had to get it as Taylor had never tried it), pitahaya (dragon fruit), grenadine, uvillas and regional bananas, papaya and oranges. We had the honor of stopping at Joshua’s favorite stand, and the three women gave us llapa, which is a custom of giving gifts of extra fruit. They complemented our group on how many spoke Spanish to them. We also got to see the fresh fish that came straight from the coast that morning.

Getting fruit from the market

Zoe eating grenadine.

Alex taught us a lot about the importance of calling ourselves global citizens and being compassionate about the issues of the world.  He taught us that each of us plays a role, and that our role as a leader is important. We must know our community and our history, because at some point we will have the responsibility to make decisions that will impact people and futures.

At around 2pm, we headed back to Estancia for lunch. Ana prepared for us cream of mushroom soup,  sauteed steak, rice, and jello for dessert. It was all so yummy!

Lunch time!



The boys of GU1C

After lunch we came back to the hostel to hear from our speaker Gustavo Fierro. Gustavo is an indigenous Ecuadorian who came to talk to us about the history of Ecuador, specifically Guaranda. Gustavo focused on the different cultures that make up Ecuador, that is Spanish, Incas, and Mestizos. The mixture of these cultures is due to the geographics of Ecuador. Many of the indigenous peoples are found inland and in the mountains, because they were able to cultivate food in the land. Gustavo also talked about the importance of Carnival for Guranda. Carnival in Guaranda is a big event! It is an event of courtship, where males carefully toss perfumed balls in front of girls and ask them to dance. They also carefully splash water on them, to let them know that they like them. Then they dance. Check out the picture of Destiny with Gustavo as he demonstrates the tradition with her.

The group with Gustavo.

Following our guest speaker we had an hour of free time to refresh.

After freetime, we had a seminar led by Alex on English tutoring. Our students learned today what Spanish level they would be teaching. Alex went over teaching techniques to prepare them for their first day of tutoring on Tuesday! The students they will be teaching are from the local school of Verbo Divino, Las Gradas, and Universidad Estatal Bolivar. We helped them prepare by going through their lesson plans. We love seeing them be educators!

Today’s dinner consisted of rice, chicken, veggies, and chocolate cake! Once again, amazing. Zoe and Carson sang a beautiful song in Spanish to Ana to thank her for cooking for us on her day off.


After dinner, we returned to the hostel and did our nightly reflection. A highlight from our reflection was hearing students’ connections between what they learned today to what they know from back home. Many students saw at the market today that kids were working alongside their parents, because they need to, this gave them a sense of appreciation for their parents hard work and for the food that they eat back home everyday. We had some students feeling homesick, but they appreciated the love they got from their new friends and your amazing comments.

Nightly reflection and community time

Stay tuned for tomorrow when we have our first student Leaders of the Day!