Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Service in Ecuador By Andrew W.


Here at OES, we like to recognize those students among us who perform outstanding service. Recently, it has come to our attention that a sophomore, Matthew W-A, spent a month of his Summer Vacation in Ecuador working with a service program called VISIONS. Matthew was one of 25 high school students who traveled to Patate, a small Andean town in Ecuador, to do community service in rural villages. They lived and worked in a very different world from what they typically know, engaging in activities that build confidence and offer first-hand knowledge. Over the course of a month, they came to know the people whose lives they are impacting...

The group spent its final days of the program in the Galapagos Islands. The teen volunteers built kiosks for marketplaces, worked on a home for elders, completed a small home for a family, and organized a day camp for local children. In the Galapagos, they helped to clear invasive plants species that threaten indigenous plants. Matthew and his peers learned about Ecuadorian culture while living and working alongside their hosts. Matthew particularly enjoyed the wildlife in this section. “I’ve never seen so many sea lions in one place” said Matthew, and there was a millipede “the size of a small rodent” The group also learned local trades through internships with artisans, visited the popular hot springs town of Banos, toured some of Quito’s historic sites, hiked in the Andes, went snorkeling in the Galapagos, and played sports with local kids. Overall, it sounds like Matthew’s service trip truly embodied the OES spirit of service. The best part is, Matthew, although among the foremost of our service oriented students, is just an example of a typical OES student. All students are unique in their own fashion, and Matthew embodies that perfectly well. And all students, especially my fellow seniors struggling to meet the dreaded 120 hours of service, should keep Matthew’s achievement, along with the achievements of every OESian, in mind.





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