Thursday, December 11, 2014


          This past weekend, the Manna staff here in Ecuador traveled to Quilatoa, a small rural town a few hours away, for our Quarter II retreat. In addition to discussing communication and marketing strategies, playing a competitive round of Ecuador trivia and relaxing in hammocks, we visited Quilatoa's crater lake. Although cold and windy, it is obviously breathtaking. After hiking (or falling) down to the lake's base and admiring the view, we rode donkeys all the way back up. While this can be attributed to both cultural curiosity and laziness (on my part), it was so fun for our group to spend the afternoon attempting to guide these animals up the mountain. Exploring this beautiful town for  our retreat was a perfect way to end our 2014 year here in Ecuador!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

December 2, 2014

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”

                                                                   – Winston Churchill

Still full from the six casseroles we prepared last Thursday, all of us here at Manna are celebrating December 2, 2014 - the unofficial holiday known as  Giving Tuesday. While December is so frequently a time for hectic shopping trips and long gift lists, it is also when we remember what is most important.  As a huge advocate for international human rights, I am fascinated by how many privileges and basic rights most of us are able to take for granted.  The right to free speech. To education. To health. To life without violence or fear. To life without poverty or hunger. 

Since my arrival in Ecuador have I become particularly obsessed with the right to education. As so many of us in the U.S. are able to receive quality education, it is ease to forget what an amazing and transformative opportunity that is.   While working with children daily, I see so many opportunities to enhance and continue their education through Manna's initiatives. From our children's nutrition and health programs, English classes and even our art program - I feel we can give back to most to our community through this emphasis on education.

While I know everyone’s Christmas list is running long, I encourage all of you to remember those who were not lucky enough to be born with so many of these privileges.   

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Things You Can't Do Without Water

The Things You Can't Do Without Water
1. Drink water
2. Flush toilets
3. Shower
4. Cook
5. Wash dishes
6. Wash anything 

I discovered this list last weekend when our neighborhood lost water for about 15 hours. As a person who showers obsessively, I was incredibly grumpy about the lack of available showers. Fortunately, we are easily able to buy drinkable water in our area so all major problems were avoided. However, while I was annoyed at the rapidly mounting pile of dirty dishes and spent the evening grumpily in my room, lamenting the shower I longed for, I was reminded of what an incredible and taken-for granted resource having available water is. Coming from the U.S., where we are literally surrounded by clean drinking water - even in the toilets, we so easily forget what a luxury it is. While there are still so many places that have health issues from a lack of clean water or still must go to extreme lengths to acquire water, the water inequality between regions is astounding. While the area of Ecuador in which I live has relatively good water quality, water issues and water health are still a huge issue in this country. While I obviously can't compare my 15 hours without water to the lifestyles of those actually living without water access, it did serve as a reminder to a luxury that most of us take for granted each day.  

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Start of Something New

New things are happening here at Manna Ecuador! In the past months we have been seeking partner organizations in the area to offer our available hands and labor. Our ideas have finally begun coming to fruition! We have begun volunteering weekly at two different partner organizations. The first is called "Antorcha de Vida," and it is an organization which assists children with disabilities in education, therapy and vocational skills. This past week we took the kids to a local pool and were able to assist with pool therapy! We also volunteer at an organization called "Aliñambe," which houses youths from abusive or unstable homes. This organization not only houses the children but offers them an education, vocational training and a safe, family atmosphere many of them have likely never had before. Currently we work in the large farm at the organization which provides food and profit. In the future we hope to offer classes such as English and health as well. We're all very excited to reach out our hands to local organizations and can't wait to see how the relationships grow!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Viva la Mama Negra!

This past weekend my wildest dreams came true at the festival of the "Mama Negra," in Latacunga, Ecuador. The festival is a mixture of Spanish tradition and indigenous beliefs. Every year thousands of people flood into the small town of Latacunga for this day-long celebration. This year happened to be the 50th anniversary of the festival, so I was lucky enough to enjoy the grandest festival in its history. Bright and early at 10:00 am, the parade begins. Everyone is in traditional garb; both Colonial Spanish and traditional indigenous wear. There is traditional Ecuadorian music constantly playing during the 3-4 hours that the parade marches on.
Waves of traditional dances prance by as people of all ages jump from foot to foot in the repetitive steps of their ancestors. For every few groups of dancers and music there were men dressed in white with white masks covering their faces. They held various plants in their hands and moved swiftly through the crowds grabbing by standers at random. They would then encircle the chosen person, quickly rotating in a circle around them. As the men circled them they would tap them on the head repeatedly with the plants and utter a blessing from the mother volcano Cotopaxi. These men represented indigenous medicine men and their blessings. I was blessed 3 times!
Even more than a fun time, the Mama Negra festival in Latacunga was an incredible cultural experience. I can't wait to go back or discover other Ecuadorian celebrations like it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Lessons From Ecuador

I arrived here in Ecuador just over two months ago. There have been many ups and downs to the experience thus far, but I am so glad I am here. We had some extra time off this weekend from our community programs, which got me reflecting on some of the things Ecuador has taught me. Although simple, I believe these examples embody the daily lives of the Ecuadorian people I have encountered.

    Live in the moment  
      Often I find myself looking or thinking to the next thing. Whether it is dinner plans, a weekend trip, or next year’s job hunt, I sometimes forget to slow down and focus on the present. My interactions with Ecuadorians consistently remind me of the importance to slow down and appreciate the moment. One example that sticks out in my mind is from a late night party with friends. It was well past midnight and one Ecuadorian friend took out his guitar, another took out her saxophone and the rest of us joined in singing traditional songs. This moment stood still in time. We all shared that moment together – no distractions from the outside world.
   Patience can be rewarding
The other day I walked 5 minutes through the pouring rain from our house to pay the electricity bill. While this may require just the click of a button back home, I needed to stop by a nearby tienda (small convenience store) to transmit the payment.  The owner informed me upon arrival that her Internet was down and that I would need to wait until it was back up. Initially I was frustrated, but she offered me a seat, a snack and then we proceeded to share a few minutes of conversation. This simple gesture brought new friendship to a potentially frustrating situation. The patience I experience from Ecuadorians weekly has reminded me that patience truly is a virtue.

    Having enough = Happiness  For Ecuadorians to have enough is to have those they most care for their side. Ecuador reminds me daily what makes life content: experiences shared with close friends and family. Nothing more is necessary. Happiness can be found in these moments.

It is my hope that I can carry these lessons and many more with me throughout my remaining time here in Ecuador and beyond.

 ~Evan Quinnell~ 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Trick or Treat?

It was great to experience the cultural exchange between the community members and our own Program Directors this weekend as we blended American Halloween traditions with those of Ecuador’s Día de Los Difuntos.  On the 31st, all of the PDs worked together to host a Halloween party for the community members. The haunted house was a huge hit for both kids and PDs alike – who knew it could be so fun to scare small children, and that they would enjoy it just as much as we did?

The next day the adult English classes shared a part of Ecuadorian culture by teaching us how to make colada morada, a traditional Ecuadorian beverage served the week of El Día de Los Difuntos. After three hours of preparation the colada morada was finished and we all sat down together to chow down on a colada morada and guaguas de pan.
~ Kate McCaw~ 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

You Teach English?

Yes, I do. And if you’d told me six months ago that I would be teaching English, I wouldn't have believed you! We all teach English; Kate and Evan even teach both an adult and children's class. Right now we are halfway through the semester and people still come in every day asking if there are open spots.  Many of us gave our classes a midterm exam this week so I wanted to reflect on my journey of becoming an English teacher thus far. Before I got to Ecuador I felt pretty certain about the programs I wanted. I was particularly interested in the health programs which made sense for me as a recent graduate with a Public Health degree.  I honestly hadn't really thought twice about English.  

After the five of us 13-monthers moved in the Manna house and began observing the programs and getting ready to select our top picks, it became clear that we were all going to be teaching English. When the semester started, there would only be seven program directors and there are nine English classes. Looking back, I’m extremely glad I didn't really have a choice about teaching English because I’m not sure if I would have chosen to do it on my own. I was definitely overwhelmed just thinking about teaching an English class. Sure, I know English. But just because I’m a native speaker in no way means I can explain why we usually put our adjectives before the noun (it is the opposite in Spanish for the most part!), why we have so many irregular verbs or why “they’re, their, and there” all sound the same but mean different things! 

The old program directors left us ample resources and lesson plans, but I still felt extremely unprepared walking into my first class. Planning that first lesson was stressful. I stared at old lesson plans and desperately tried to incorporate reading, listening, writing and speaking activities into a one hour lesson. A few days later I would learn that first hour lesson was a piece of cake to plan. I now had to plan activities for a three hour lesson! I try to over-plan because some activities will take longer than expected, like speaking activities; many hate speaking in class. While other take much less time, like vocabulary exercises because the majority of our students have a really good vocabulary and have picked up so many words from music and movies. I’m still learning how to best make my lessons but I've definitely improved and am learning my students’ pace!

I teach the adult intermediate English class (the second level out of five). Teaching adults is nice because they all have specific and interesting reasons for wanting to learn English. Usually adults want to learn English for their job or so they can help their kids. And they genuinely want to be in class - however, some program directors who teach kid’s English would have a different take! I had expected to be speaking a lot more Spanish in class than I actually am but my students really want me to say everything in English. I think this is good because the exposure to new words and my pronunciation is really helpful for them, even if I have to clarify things in Spanish. 

I've really been enjoying teaching English but wanted some formal training to help me feel more effective. Two of the PDs last year took a 160 hour online TESOL course (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) and after successfully completing the course they now have a TESOL certification. Carley and I enrolled in the online course and we are both about half way through. So far we've learned about how to teach certain verb tenses, phonemes, classroom management and even the best ways to give feedback. It is definitely helping me feel more confident in my teaching and by December I’ll be TESOL certified! If I do decide to continue teaching English after my time with Manna, having this course under my belt will definitely serve me well. 

Conclusions: English is hard. It’s probably (definitely) way harder than Spanish.  Currently, English is the third most widely spoken language, second to Mandarin and Spanish, yet it permeates everywhere. I feel so incredibly lucky just to have grown up speaking English and this new-found interest of teaching is incredibly exciting! 

~ Amelia Hulbert ~ 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Mama Clement

This week the Manna house was inundated with cookies and chocolate from Trader Joe's, which could only mean one thing... the first parent of the year. My mom flew down to visit for about ten days, which I spent showing her the Manna library and the Valle de los Chillos, as well as travelling with her to Quilotoa and Otavalo. To be honest, it was a little difficult to be away from the Manna house for so long...after three months I feel I have already grown so close to my Manna family that it was difficult to be without their smiling faces and missing out on their daily lives, even briefly. Even taking a few days off and missing out on some of my programs was difficult-- I love getting to know and serve the community here! But I was surprised at home much light my travels with my mom helped shed on these thirteen months as a whole.

As we traveled around Ecuador, we met many expats and had conversations that reminded me just how much I love and appreciate this country. An expat I met in Otavalo who has lived in Ecuador for more than ten years shared how deeply she appreciates the welcome she received in to the community she lives in. Even after ten years, her host family from her semester abroad in Quito call her "ñaña"-- sister. After only three months here, I am already experiencing this deeply moving spirit of welcoming from the Ecuadorians that I interact with every day and am thankful to call my friends. Another expat shared with me how she moved down to Ecuador with her husband to open a sustainable, socially conscious coffee co-op and cafe, and how she appreciates her daily opportunity to give back to others, and how they often give more to her than they even know. Her experiences couldn't resonate with me more... in my work with Manna I have never felt more fulfilled in my work and convinced that I am contributing to something meaningful just by touching peoples lives, in even a small way.

On my mom's last day in Ecuador we visited the Teleferico, a cable car that stretches up the side of the Pichincha Volcano, overlooking the city of Quito and the surrounding countryside. Even though during my first week in Ecuador I took the Teleferico to overlook the city, there was something much more meaningful about seeing the city from the air again three months into my life here. It can be hard to be here sometimes, hard to be away from my family, hard to navigate new friendships and communities while straddling a language barrier (even though it is shrinking every day!), hard to devote myself to such intensive and multi-layered work as community development. But it is so worth it; I love this city and this nation, and I can't imagine how it will feel to have to leave when my time here is up. Seeing the country through the eyes of others-- my mother, my new expat friends, other individuals I met in the past week-- reminded me of how important it is to open my eyes daily to the blessing of being here. Even three months in, Ecuadorians have already begun to open their lives to me, and that is something for which I will be eternally grateful.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Two Things I Miss from Home - and Two Things I Will Miss When I Leave

Things I miss from home:
1. Efficiency: The U.S. is known for its back-breaking work ethic and strictly timed culture. While living in the U.S. I often saw this as a sad burden, that people worked themselves to death rather than enjoying life. I still believe this to be true and think the work culture in the U.S. should be lessened, but after living in South America I can truly appreciate the efficiency and ease this value brings to basically all things. Whether it's getting a coffee to-go or buying a last minute Christmas present, the U.S. makes it easy to get things done and do them quickly.
2. Variety: The U.S. has choices and variety in absolutely anything you could want or need. Growing up there, one does not realize this because it is simply a part of life. This is actually something fairly unique to U.S. culture. Living in such an environment all my life, the transition into South American culture was definitely rough. In South America, sometimes it's just difficult to find a different kind of cheese than the sole one the local grocery store offers. Although difficult to adjust to, it is a beautiful thing because it represents true Ecuadorian culture. The U.S. has quite a culture crisis in reality because it has items from many cultures available at all times. With so many cultural variations in food, music, language and styles, U.S. citizens often find themselves asking what exactly is "American."

Things I will miss when I leave Ecuador:
1. Sense of community: It never ceases to amaze me how community-focused Ecuadorians are in everything they do. As much as the U.S. is efficiency driven, Ecuador is equally community driven. From the big things like community organized neighborhood clean-ups, which are a regular occurrence, to the smallest things like kids sharing much more easily and happily than children I've seen in the U.S. It still surprises me when a child comes in to the library with the tiniest bag of candy but always gives away more than half of it, without anyone asking for it. Similarly, this sense of community creates such a welcoming, family-oriented society which I find utterly beautiful.
2. Stress-free environment: The relaxed, laid back culture in Ecuador is entrancing. If you're late for a meeting, who cares? They are probably late too. Panicking because of your workload? You just have to take a deep breath and remember the Ecuadorian philosophy; the work will get done when the work gets done. Trying to rid oneself of the U.S. ideal of accomplishing as much as possible in one day is difficult, but once you're free of it life is incredibly less stressful.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Yo No Hablo Espanol

The Manna group recently participated in a discussion about the difficulties and strategies of studying a new language. One of the hardest lessons I learned when moving to Ecuador was discovering that just because you got an A in high school Spanish class does not mean you can speak Spanish. Not even close. Language immersion can be very beneficial to learning but it can also be both overwhelming and isolating. The constant feeling of having so much to learn can often be an impediment to understanding a new language. My experience so far was best summed up by a TED talk on the subject. The speaker explained why language immersion isn't always the most effective way to learn, saying "you can't teach a drowning man to swim."  While I think all of the Program Directors have improved since our arrival and are no longer "drowning," we still constantly have to work to improve despite the occasional frustration. While it is exciting to see how much each of us has improved in three months, hopefully it will be even more rewarding to see how we progress after thirteen. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Our First Retreat: Banos

This past weekend the program directors took off for our first work retreat. We went to Baños, only a few hours away but a whole new world. Baños is one of the most incredible places I have ever been. The town houses one of the most active volcanoes in the world; Tungurahua. Surrounding the incredible "mother" Tungurahua is lush rolling hills, mountains of all sizes and more greenery than I've ever seen.
During the retreat we biked "la ruta de las cascadas," or the waterfall route. Along this route we saw mountainous scenery and a total of 4 waterfalls. It was so much fun (despite the cold rain we were caught in for the first hour) and I can't imagine enjoying it more with anyone other than my Mannamily (Manna family). The retreat wasn't all fun and vacation time, we also got down to business. Luckily, the work part of the retreat was discussions on culture and leadership; two things we are all passionate about. It was great to have such in-depth conversation with the other program directors about things we care about. The discussions deepened our relationship and made us feel more united in our motivation and hopes for our time in Ecuador. The morning before returning to Quito, we trekked up to "la casa del árbol," a famous tree swing on a mountain side.
We each took our turn swinging on the wreck-less, haphazard mountain side swing; laughing wildy and taking in deep breaths of mountain air. It's hard to explain, but that tree swing touched each of us profoundly. Whether it was the danger, the beauty or the combination of the two; it was one of the most wonderful feelings I've ever felt. I'm so glad that I left Baños closer to my friends and closer to nature and I can't wait to return.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The United Nations Peacekeepers function as a "a unique and dynamic instrument developed by the Department of Peace Keeping Organization as a way to help countries torn by conflict to create the conditions for lasting peace."   Working towards international peace, security and  the promotion of human rights, they monitor and observe peace processes all over the world. AND WE GOT OT HELP THEM.

AND IT WAS AMAZING. In several trips to Mitad Del Mundo (literally "the middle of the world") , Manna Project International's Program Directors were able to assist in UN Peacekeeper training sessions. This included dressing up as journalists and berating soldiers for imperfect English, pretending to be representatives from the BBC and aggressively telling Peacekeepers that their English just simply wasn't good enough.  Additionally, we assisted in practice negotiating with Non-governmental organizations and, as a faux- World Food Program Representative, I attempted to help schedule and coordinate food-delivering missions into urgent situations with Peacekeepers in training. 

Working with the Peacekeepers was an amazing experience. Not only are they incredibly friendly, funny and entertaining, but they are a truly inspiring force. Talking with one officer about his year in Liberia and precautions against the Ebola outbreak, I was reminded how amazing and impacting this type of work is.  While some say peace is an impossible goal, I strongly disagree. The current existence of war does not diminish or dismiss the larger goal; the international progress we have made globally since 1945 alone speaks for itself.  As an individual obsessed with both human rights and social progress, even I believe the existence of an international "peacekeeping" force is a huge step, both physically and metaphorically towards international cooperation. The work, sacrifices and  risks these individuals take each day are what will truly, albeit eventually, result in global change and international peace. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Cultural Immersion: Moving Past Rejection

For most of my life I lived in a small town with people who never plan on leaving, and it drove me crazy. I
could never understand people who did not have the magnetic pull to travel the world and experience new cultures. In college, I majored in international studies with a concentration in Latin America and the Caribbean. When I wasn't studying politics I was studying the history of and current cultures of the world, and dying to experience them all. Even with my passion for other cultures, cultural immersion is not an easy task. After the excitement of the tourist phase wore off, I found myself completely rejecting  any and all Ecuadorian culture. The smallest things grew to bother me, for instance the manner in which people walk down the street (slowly and without general rules of passing as in the US). This phase is difficult because you cannot escape it. At some point home is going to be the only place you can imagine being happy and the surrounding culture will be resented. I am still working through this challenge constantly.
 Some days are better than others, but what I always try to remember is to take a step back and look at the big picture. I live in an beautiful place, I have a houseful of amazing friends who make me laugh daily, I have (delicious) food on the table, clean water to drink and I get to work with  incredible kids that light up when they see me, every single day. Adapting to a new culture is always hard. Daily interactions are often uncomfortable, I can't always communicate what I need to say and I am confused more than not; but my life here is wonderful and it's what I always dreamed of. Watching the sun rise every day, truly feeling the laughter I am emitting, appreciating the smile on the children's faces; these are the things that make the cultural immersion process worth every awkward situation.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Four Things Most North Americans Don’t Know About Ecuador

1.    The Mountains
Although some people probably know that Ecuador is quite mountainous, it is impossible to image or visualize the incredible landscape of this country. Unfortunately pictures cannot do the mountains of Ecuador justice but it seems like everywhere we look could be a post card.

2. The Fruit
Born and raised in the USA, I’m used to organic, fresh fruit being expensive and hard to find, especially when what you’re looking for is out of season. It’s the opposite here in Ecuador. While a box of brand name Cornflakes can be almost four dollars, a huge selection of fresh fruit can be bought almost anywhere. 

3. The Seasons (or lack of?)
Instead of Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring, Ecuador’s seasons seemed to be distinguished as the rainy season and the non-rainy season. And while we’re all missing Autumn, the rainy season will hopefully still provide an excuse to wear large sweaters and drink coffee. 

4. Architecture
An orange house, a pink house, a bright teal house...this is the common view during our daily commute. The beautiful architecture, historical styles and brilliant colors of Ecuadorian towns still amaze me daily.  

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The First Week of English Class

Yesterday marked our first day of English classes! We began children's classes at 4:00 pm yesterday evening and tonight will be the first class for all five levels of adult English. I think all the program directors can agree that planning time and content accordingly for our first classes was nerve-racking, but the first day was a definite success!

This year's inscription day for English classes was packed, with a line of more than twenty people waiting before the library doors opened. Our English classes are definitely the most successful program we have in Ecuador. It's incredible how many people the seven of us have the chance to impact with our classes. Our classes offer an incredible opportunity; to be taught by native English speakers at a very low cost. The opportunity is so enticing that we not only serve local community members of Rumiloma but people from all over the region. I didn't expect to enjoy teaching English, but knowing how much the classes mean to the students who are willing to come from near and far makes every class a rewarding experience.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Exploring Ecuador: Mindo is Lindo!

After camp came to an end this past week, we finally had the opportunity to explore more of the natural beauty Ecuador has to offer. We traveled a scenic, two hour bus ride to the beautiful town of Mindo. Although only two hours away, entering Mindo is like traveling into another world. Mindo is located in the cloud forest section of Ecuador. It's not the jungle, but it's definitely close! The flora and fauna of this little town is incredible! While in Mindo, we were able to zip-line through the jungle-like forest, go tubing down a rushing river, relax in the hammocks at our hostel, and even go horseback riding! Although I'm terrified of heights, I managed to conquer my fear and I have to say that zip-lining over a cloud forest was a truly amazing experience. Our trail-ride on horseback also offered some awesome views of the forest. This was my personal favorite activity because it reminded me of my childhood horseback riding days as well! The locals in Mindo were genuine, kind and happy people. I feel as though we made friends with every person, worker and guide we met. I hope to return to Mindo soon and enjoy the cloud forest all over again.

Summer Camp has come to an End

A very fun and successful three weeks of summer camp came to an end this past Saturday. The last day of camp the program directors hosted a small fiesta for the parents to come view and collect the art projects and English lessons the kids have been working on for the past three weeks. Seeing the pride in the childrens' faces as they showed their parents their art projects and accomplishments was one of the most rewarding feelings I have had thus far. Hosting summer camp was at times stressful and definitely exhausting; but being able to see how much camp has impacted the children and the happiness the parents had at their childrens' success made every second worth it! Summer camp not only gave the kids an incredible feeling of pride, but us program directors as well. Every time a child was excited about a project or stayed in class while the other kids went out to play, just to perfect their work, I became overwhelmed with pride and joy. I was proud that I had created projects that the kids enjoyed and I was overjoyed to see the delight the kids had to express their creativity. I'm so excited to further encourage the kids creative expression in art class every Friday and I can't wait to see familiar faces from camp in the library and in our programs!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Some First Impressions

Just over a month into our Manna journey and we are still overwhelmed by the number of new experiences and countless cultural differences Ecuador has to offer.  Here are some thoughts on our first weeks as MPIE's  Program Directors: 

It's been a long but exciting transition into working with Manna, and I am excited to begin getting my hands dirty running programs and working behind the scenes to make Manna function at its best. In the past month I've been an English teacher, plumber, chef, expert at playing Uno, librarian, and so much more that I never thought I would experience, all of which have grown me and shown me that I am capable of more than I imagined. I am so excited to see what surprises and adventures the rest of my time at Manna with hold.
      - Carley Clement  

People from home constantly ask, "So, how's Ecuador?" I guess i could jokingly say, "Come for the mountains, stay for the fruit juice," as there is way too much to say in attempts to explain my experience so far. After learning multiple "Ecuadorian remedies", repeatedly ordering the wrong thing in restaurants and being put to shame in several salsa clubs, I've definitely enjoyed my first encounters with Ecuadorian culture.  Not only have I  fallen in love with the country, but our transition into Manna life has definitely kept us busy.  After two weeks of summer camp, it's been great getting to know the kids and I can't wait to become more invested in my long-term programs.  Additionally, I'm extremely excited for our group to start traveling and get some second impressions of this country! 
    - Sydney McKenney 

After almost five weeks in Ecuador, I am struck by the beauty of this country and its people!  It has been an exhausting but incredible transition.  After a week in Quito and then a week in the Valley, both with host families, we are finally settled into the Manna house.  It was so wonderful to have the old PDs show us the ropes and it was sad to see them go!  However, I'm definitely ready to begin.  Unpacking and moving into my new room was a surprisingly enjoyable task after living out of my suitcase for a month!  I am absolutely loving the abundance of avocados and other fruits and am excited to try my hand at making some traditional Ecuadorean meals very soon!  Luna, our house dog, is also making the move here a little easier by providing some puppy love.  With only five of us volunteers we are all pretty busy.  Summer camp began this week and is in the mornings and then we all are working in the Manna Library almost every afternoon.  But the kids are great and so far camp has been organized chaos full of English lessons, art projects and dancing- overall a great success!  I am so excited to begin my selected programs next month and continue getting to know the community members and Ecuador!   
       - Amelia Hulbert 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Exploring Todo Del Mundo

           Manna Project International’s annual summer camp has gotten off to a great start with over 38 kids signed up to participate! This year, we’ve focused on exploring different cultures and countries from around the world  in attempts to give the kids a small sample of “Todo Del Mundo.”   By focusing on Europe, Africa and Asia through history lessons, art projects and even listening to the Frozen soundtrack in numerous languages,  we’ve definitely tried to incorporate as many new cultures and experiences as possible. With everything from African tribal masks, European geography lessons and Polka dancing, it has definitely been a packed but amazing week.   This past Saturday, the group headed to a local farm where we helped with weeding and planting before the kids participated in a discussion about the importance of agriculture.

            One of the most enjoyable aspects as Program Director has been the opportunity to get to know the kids on a more personal level. We’ve had so much fun playing, learning and watching how incredibly creative they can be when given the chance.
            We’ve got two weeks, a ton of activities and a whole lot of the world left to explore!