Hola desde Ecuador!
This is Lauren Utter and Tessa Kramer reporting from our homestay here in Guayaquil, Ecuador! We wanted to keep you updated on some of our first week’s adventures, specifically updating you on the sites in which we will be working in the next four weeks and the Spanish classes we enjoy each afternoon.
We will have the opportunity to work at three sites this year. The first site is called Fundación Crecer. Although we got our feet wet at Fundación Crecer last week, we officially start our work there tomorrow morning. Fundación Crecer currently has about 120 students from kindergarten through twelfth grade. The foundation was created in an effort to provide a school for kids who dropped out of their initial school to work on the streets or whom have never had the opportunity to attend school. Many of the students currently at Fundación Crecer were previously cleaning windshields at red lights for pennies, selling candies for dimes, and/or prostituting for money. Many of these children have also entered the world of drug addiction due to their unfortunate circumstances. Fundación Crecer gives these children two, sometimes three, meals a day, as well as an education, and a familial support network. Here in Ecuador, like many places in the world, knowledge is power; the goal is to help these kids stay in school.
We are fortunate to work alongside the foundation’s psychologist. There is a two-way mirror and some play therapy materials in the psychologist’s office. Four MSPP students will do therapy and assessments on at-risk students from the foundation, while the other four MSPP students serve as a reflecting team behind the two-way mirror. We will then consult with the psychologist as a team to help with some of these extremely challenging cases.
After spending these next two weeks at Fundación Crecer, we will begin our rotation at a public school, Escuela Fiscal Mixta N 70. At this public school, we will work with children who are exhibiting difficult behaviors in the classroom. We will have the opportunity to meet with the students, complete assessments, and also meet with many of the parents of these students. The overwhelming majority of these students live in single-parent homes in a low-income area. Perhaps we will also have the opportunity to lead groups for the students around self-esteem and healthy relationships, as well as support groups for their parents.
Our final week will be spent at a medical clinic, Sub Centro de Salud Luchadores del Norte, again in a very indigent part of the city. At this medical clinic we will see individuals across the lifespan who come for our therapeutic services. At this medical clinic, we will do home visits, and do some therapy and assessments in the public schools of this community. We may also have the opportunity to use our therapeutic skills to assist other medical professionals at the clinic. We have already been approached by a male gynecologist at the clinic, requesting that we aid female patients in increasing their comfort level during these procedures.
As you can see, these organizations will keep us on our feet and using all that we have learned over the years, but we cannot wait to jump into the work. Each morning we are at these organizations. In the afternoons, we attend Spanish classes through Blue Hill College. MSPP has partnered with Blue Hill to organize our morning clinical work and provide us Spanish classes.
In the hour-and-a-half of Spanish classes each afternoon, we are brushing up on our grammar and conversation skills, psychological terminology, and culture-specific idiosyncrasies that will aid us in our work. Our classes are taught by a native Ecuadorian professor. Her authentic accent and insider’s perspective on societal issues has allowed us to gain a more comprehensive understanding of Ecuador and it’s people.
We have a challenging week of clinical work ahead of us, but we will continue to be energized by the sea of smiles that we encounter daily. Thanks for reading, and we will continue to keep you posted.
Lauren and Tessa