Why did you decide to volunteer with Lead Adventures in Ecuador?
Theresa: I wanted to spend the summer volunteering abroad in a Spanish-speaking country, and spent quite a while looking at a variety of different programs. As a former teacher, I was excited about the opportunity to teach in a public school - I got to work in an area I had experience and experience the Ecuadorian education system. I also really wanted to live with a host family, both for the extended language practice and to really experience day-to-day life. Lead Adventures fit all my practical criteria (time frame, reasonable price) and offered a unique, exciting opportunity.
Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.
Theresa: I spent the mornings teaching English at a public elementary school. I taught 6 classes every day, for 30 minutes to an hour each. My students had books, but I was given a huge amount of leeway in designing lessons that I thought would be most productive. School was out at 12:30, and I'd have lunch with my host mom and other volunteers. I spend afternoons at my mom's office planning lessons for the next day, emailing my family in the US, and talking to people. My mom and I would head home together at 5, and I normally spent evenings with my host family. I spent most weekends with my family as well, traveling around the area or just running errands. I also did some traveling with friends.
What made this experience unique and special?
Theresa: My host family. I stayed with a wonderful family that really embraced me. Mostly because of them, I really felt like I was living in Ecuador, not just visiting for a long time. I was lucky enough to have host siblings near my age to go out with, parents that would spend hours talking to me about history and politics, and grandparents to teach me to make empanadas. I still keep in touch with them.
How has this experience impacted your future?
Theresa: My Spanish is certainly much, much better than it was before, and I hope to continue to use it in my professional life. I'm teaching English as a foreign language again, this time for adults. I still talk to my family and friends from Ecuador, and hope to go back to visit at some point.