Service Learning has been a huge part of my college career. At Bates, not only is there an emphasis on integrating classroom and community work, but I’ve also been fortunate to participate in the Bonner Program (a national organization that promotes service work on college campuses). So it seemed like a no brainer to take the Service Learning class here in Quito.
As an Environmental Studies major, I was placed at the Quito Botanical Gardens. However my concentration of energy, rather than say ecology (or better yet botany), has taught me almost nothing about plants. My daily tasks including washing pots, weeding, shelling beans, etc. I can’t say I love it there, but I feel my work is needed and greatly appreciated.
In addition to my bi-weekly visits to the Botanical Gardens, I decided to also volunteer at Zambiza. Zambiza is a garbage dump in the North of Quito and an organization funded entirely by outside donations provides free on site child care for all the employees. The work they do there is truly amazing, especially given the relatively poor child-to-teacher ratio. Kids are fed, bathed, learn to brush their teeth and if necessary can have their clothes washed. Because of its location, mothers can send their babies with formula milk or stop by during work breaks to feed them. Older kids can wave to their working parents from the play yard. I watch and play with the kids, help feed them and occasionally get to cook! In case you couldn’t tell I love it there.
As the semester comes to a close (how do I have less than 4 weeks left?), I completed my required hours (and continued to work at both organizations for 2 extra weeks), but today it came time to say good bye to the Botanical Garden and Zambiza. It was a great experience and I highly recommend getting involved in the community whenever you move somewhere new!
I can’t post pictures of the kids at Zambiza, but hopefully you enjoyed the Botanical Garden photos!
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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);">My name is Kate Paladin and I'm an Environmental Studies major, Math minor at Bates College. I am a research assistant studying lake ecosystems, volunteer in an elementary school classroom and perform Bollywood dance. Most people study Spanish and then decide to visit South America, but I did the reverse - after choosing Quito for study abroad, I took my first Spanish class! Although I have just 2 years of Spanish under my belt, I couldn't be more excited to study in Ecuador.</span></p>