Buenos Aires Celebra (celebrates) Ecuador & Mexico Mini-Festival
My body is in Buenos Aires now, but my mind is still Quito, processing my time there. This past weekend, I was able to reflect more on my Quito experience. Why? Well, Buenos Aires has weekly country celebrations during the weekends. Ecuador and Mexico were in the spotlight this past weekend. With a friend, we walked around the mini-festival and ate a lot of yummy food. I felt like I was back in Ecuador, my host country for six weeks.
When I was in Quito, time slowed down for me because my mind was not filled with a million things that I had to do. My mind was focused on understanding the community that I had just entered. Quito reminded me so much of my Mexico, so it made me feel at home; of course, there were differences between the two countries. I was blessed with a loving host family that treated me like a member of their family. We had breakfast and dinner together every day, which helped me to understand the Ecuadorian culture. At breakfast and dinner, we talked about numerous things. I liked having a host family because I was able to ask many questions that taught me more about the culture and the traditions.
My placement was a way for me to learn more about the social issues in the city and the country. The school was opened by two Spaniard priests to provide education to children in the Lucha de los Probres neighborhood and nearby neighborhoods. I fell in love with the school the moment I set foot on it. The children bombarded us, the participants, with hugs and questions the first day we arrived. There was not a day when I did not wake up excited to go to the school and be with the children. I pictured their smiles, laughter, and positivity! At the school, most of the time, I was assisting Rosita, the master cook, with the preparations for lunch. However, I did interact with the children. I would go to recess with the children and played tag and volleyball. Towards, the end of my time at the school, I was more involved in the classroom setting. I taught the children how to make an origami fish, bunny, and a crane. My favorite part of my whole experience at the school was breaking bread with the children. Lunch was a time for me to get to know each child more and to also talk to the educators.
I look up to each of the children in the school. The lives of these kids are not easy, some of them moved to Ecuador because they were not safe in their countries. Others live in neighborhoods were drugs and gangs are present. Even though they have a lot to deal with outside of school, the kids would go to school every morning with a smile. I am thankful that I was able to spend six weeks with these kiddos. My time with the children answered some of the many questions I have about the world, but it also raised so many other questions, which is a good thing. Questions are, after all, one of the factors that drive our actions.
Now that I am in Argentina, I keep thinking about how I will sustain the relationship that I have developed with the community. One thing I can do is promote the school. A Facebook page has been created for the school to reach out to people around the world. The school is in need of donations to remain open since it does not charge a fee for enrollment, which is not the case in other public schools in Ecuador. Here’s the link to learn more about the organization: https://www.facebook.com/Escuela-Fiscomisional-Gratuita-Inti-923670964493539/
Another way I can keep the relationship is to continue with my career. Accessing psychological services can be difficult because it is expensive and stigmatized. I am aware of these barriers, and I want to work towards providing affordable services to children and families from underprivileged communities. Like I mentioned at the beginning, I am in Buenos Aires right now. I’ll be here for the next four months studying and learning about the culture, especially about how Argentines view psychological services. Buenos Aires is known for having the highest number of psychologists and psychiatrists per capita in World. Also, because seeking psychological services are not stigmatized. My experience so far: Argentines are not ashamed about seeing a therapist or talking about mental health.
The Inti School and community will always have a special place in my heart. It is because of them that I was able to loosen up and embrace the silliness that was locked up before. It is because of them that I truly understood the power of a meal with others. My time might have ended in Quito, for now, but the moments of reflections are just beginning.
Thank you to everyone who donated to the fundraiser to take the children to the Planetarium and Vivarium. The children and the educators are immensely thankful for the experience and your generosity.