One of the classes that I’m taking this semester is called Service Learning, which is essentially a seminar about social justice issues in Ecuador, combined with a volunteer placement. While the seminar is definitely interesting, the volunteer placement is particularly exciting, because we’re given the opportunity to learn first-hand about social issues in Quito. I’m volunteering at an organization called Extreme Response, in Zámbiza, Quito. Zámbiza is the home of a large garbage dump, where workers sort through waste that is then transported in trucks to a location outside of Quito. Specifically, I’m working at the Zámbiza Daycare Center and Preschool, which is a child care center for the children of los trabajadores de la basura, or, the Zámbiza Dump workers.
The kids in the daycare range from babies to probably about 8 years of age, though the majority are not older than 5. Today was only my third day volunteering, but so far it’s been a good experience! I’ve generally been helping out with the youngest kids, which has certainly been an adventure. Trying to watch 5 kids by yourself who are all probably under the age of 2 is not easy work. That said, they’re really adorable and playing with them will probably be useful for practicing los mandatos, or commands, in Spanish!
The other cool thing about my volunteer placement is that even though the commute is a bit long (30-40 min by bus), it’s been a great way for me to learn more about how to get around the city. I’ve definitely become more comfortable with the bus system now that I travel to Zámbiza twice a week. Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos of the kids or the daycare center yet, so for now, you’ll just have to take my word that they’re extremely cute (except for when they try to hit each other…hence the necessity of using commands!). But I’ll be sure to take pictures soon!
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Claire Fishman is a junior at Brandeis University, majoring in Psychology. Outside of class, she enjoys singing with the university’s chorus and playing flute with a student orchestra. Her hobbies include reading, writing, cooking. Claire has traveled to Central America twice (Costa Rica and Honduras), but this will be her first time in South America. Despite having grown up in a large city, she loves spending time in nature, and looks forward to exploring the biodiversity of Ecuador. As someone who loves to travel and try new things, Claire is thrilled to be embarking on this adventure!</span></p>