Today we kicked off Summer Session Two in true MPIE style; a big morning meeting, freshly baked banana bread, and a detailed run-through of the next 4 weeks. After getting the logistical stuff out of the way (typical greetings, safety guidelines, dress code, how to work the water filter, toilet paper rules, etc.) Dana, Eliah and Dunc led the summer vols on a tour of 'downtown' (term used lightly) Conocoto. Mark, Jos and I met the crew for lunch at Sazon de la Abuela, the nicest almuerzo restaurant we can walk to, before heading out to the library space together.
After walking through the different parts of the library and giving them a crash course in it's day to day functioning, we moved couches, beanbags, and office chairs into a small circle in the teen center and got comfortable for another, less formal talk.
As led by Bibi (our new country director who arrived Monday, did I forget to mention that? Don't worry, she'll get her own SERIES of posts she's that amazing), we started digging into some big topics: the reasons we participate in service, our motivations and intentions, hang-ups and successes, and overarching feelings on the entire concept of "community development". I found myself looking around at our group, made up of students from Brown, Middlebury, Vanderbilt and Georgetown (and a few in between which I've currently forgotten) with such a sense of pride and excitement. Here we were, having just met last night, all engaged in a discussion about grass-roots community organizing, the current Ecuadorian economic situation, and different stages of development. It's exciting to have new voices to add to the dialogue. New perspectives. New ideas. New Challenges.
Good things are going to happen with this group, I can feel it in my bones.