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From the crack of dawn until the last gleam of sunlight, Working Like a Local Day was a day full of happiness, cooperation, and bonding. The day began at 5:30 in the morning, when all of us stumbled groggily out of bed to the tour bus, which brought us to the quaint building of Utopia, an organization which acquires food directly from farmers and delivers them to families of low income. After a warm welcome by Utopia staff, we set right to work, which included sorting, weighing, and distributing numerous fruits and vegetables into canastas, or baskets of food ready for distribution to families. While the work may have been hard at times, it was certainly rewarding and uplifting to us all.

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My peers and I learned about the strong sense of selflessness and cooperation in the community of Riobamba. As we worked, staff and local volunteers would be right there in the middle of the street with us, weighing and counting food. The spirit was also so positive and joyful, and right in the middle of working, Ecuadorian dance music would be turned on, and both Glimpsers (myself included) and local community members would get up and start dancing together in pairs and in large circles, feet stomping and hands joined together. It was this strong sense of cooperation, present in both our Global Glimpse group and the workers and helpers of Utopia, which made me incredibly happy the entire morning. I just could not help smiling and dancing with everyone I saw as I worked.

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The event that surprised me the most today was when a car drove into a small hole near our canasta working area. A bunch of us Glimpsers, as well as locals, were called to help, and with our combined effort, we managed to fully lift the section of the car stuck in the ditch. It was my first time lifting a car, and it only reinforced the strong feelings of teamwork today! I am so proud of my peers today (I can’t help but crack a smile as I type these words) because even though the work was difficult at times, we stayed strong and unified. There were no arguments, errors in communication, or resentment, and today clearly strengthened our new bonds of friendship with one another.

I am so overjoyed to be bonding with such wonderful people, and giving back to the community through an amazing organization, Utopia, which we look forward to working with in the future! Being El Lider Del Dia (Leader of The Day) was a bit stressful for me at first, since I was worried I would mess up somewhere and stall the day, but when I received an abundance of support from my peers and Global Glimpse leaders, I soon felt confident and ready to lead us through the day! As I sit here now, I have learned that I have what it takes within me to be an efficient leader, and with just a little courage and willpower, I am able to work and grow as a leader!

And now, the shoutouts for the night:

Love you family! -Abbie

Mom: I’ll call again on the 22nd! I got the days mixed up ): Can’t wait to talk to you and snail, though! Also, shoutout to my best friend Aparna that I love so much, and SH7 crew, + Nic, Andrew, and Daniel T. I miss talking to you all! (Also, thanks to Arjun’s mom for the sweet thank you!) -Helena

Arjun’s family + Alandra: Next free day is the 22nd, so I’m 100% able to call then. The food is surprisingly delicious; I had some grilled vegetable/fish dish that night. Love you and miss you so much!

Hey fam, I’ll call you guys on the 22nd, so please be ready to answer! -Emanuel

Hey Dad & Uncle, I will call on the 22nd because this is when we have free time for the whole day. Love you guys. -Christian M.

S/O to my family, I will call you guys on the 22nd. I miss you guys a bit. Today was really fun, and I have been playing a lot of soccer LOL. See you later Alligator. Also, S/O to my dog Otis, I miss petting your fur. Love you (bark). Love, te amo, Jordan

I’ll call you on the 22nd. Besos, Rebecca.

Hey Dad! Found a poncho for Jax, gonna try and buy it next week. Pick up the damn phone. -Jay

Hey Ms. Burks, we just read your comment and we miss you so much! P.S. we’re making new friends lol. -Jennifer M.

Hey Ms. Burks, you made my night with the shoutout. We miss you so much! We are making new friends! -Arianna R.

Hey Julia and Emma, hold Fluffy extra close today cuz guess what – I’ll be trying cui (guinea pig) tomorrow >:). Give him some treats for me!

Tell Amma and Paati not to worry – I’ve been eating a LOT of good food (I actually haven’t had rice and beans as a meal yet). And I’m bringing yummy food home too (including honey and candy) 🙂 Love, Sandhya

And finally, to my parents, I miss you guys! Hope you are doing well, and I’ll call (and/or email) on the 22nd to catch you guys up on all of my super fun experiences so far! Love, Marcus