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Teaching English in Ecuador

Listed under Volunteering Opportunities in Ambato, Ecuador.

  • Photo of Teaching English in Ecuador
  • Photo of Teaching English in Ecuador
  • Photo of Teaching English in Ecuador
Photo of Teaching English in Ecuador
Photo by Molly
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From the lodge’s porch—over fish ceviche, salty smashed plantains, and icy Ecuadorian beer—those of us who had already arrived watched those who straggled in up the sand track from Puerto Lopez, Ecuador. When there was no one coming, we looked out at the Pacific and hoped we’d see whales, although frigate birds and pelicans were nice to look at too.

This was WorldTeach Ecuador’s mid-service, and as one of the five trained and experienced teachers in my cohort of nineteen volunteers, I was supposed to be preparing a segment on preempting plagiarism, but mostly I was trying to recover from careening down out of the Andes on an all-night bus from Ambato, the city in the middle of Ecuador’s volcano corridor where I had been placed by WorldTeach to teach English at the public university. Four months earlier, after an intensive month-long orientation, the nineteen of us had separated and scattered around Ecuador to our various posts, and now everyone had stories: Someone was in love with his host sister. Someone still couldn’t speak enough Spanish to order lunch. Almost everyone had been pick-pocketed.

For four months, we had all been independent volunteer teachers, struggling as any culturally immersed person does with adaptation, language barriers, and the stresses of teaching English, this slippery language we had previously taken for granted. One of my classes—my favorite—had fifty students, thirty desks, and no books or curriculum. When there were protests (against then-president “Lucio Sucio”), students tear-gassed my classroom building so that no one had an excuse for not marching. We all lived with host families, and this was also an adventure. I had a lovely room on a rooftop that overlooked volcanoes—snowcapped Cotapaxi and smoking Tungurahua—and a family that laughed a lot. One of my fellow volunteers lived in a home where she was plagued by bedbugs, but she loved the family too much to move out. In short, we lived as Ecuadorians live; we even used Ecuadorian slang: “¡Que chevre!” we exclaimed when our director bought us a round of beer; “chuchaqui” was what we’d all have the next morning.

WorldTeach mid-service in Puerto Lopez was our hiatus. We spoke English, laughed loudly, and ran out into the Pacific after dark in various degrees of undress. But it was also our chance to better equip ourselves for our volunteer posts. We were bizarrely eager to talk pedagogy and lesson plans. But even more helpful was just being in each other’s company again. I had more experience teaching and living in Latin America than most of the other volunteers—I had the traveler skills to volunteer in Ecuador without WorldTeach—but I was the one having problems with my university (besides the overfull classes and tear gas) and I was desperate to talk to my field director and hear what other people were experiencing so that I could get some perspective.

Teaching, traveling, volunteering, living with a family, in another country, outside of even your own context is all challenging, to say the least. It is also amazing, if you have the support to be successful, and ultimately we, the nineteen of us jointly, accomplished more in Ecuador than the sum of our parts. This is why volunteering with WorldTeach is worth it: There were nineteen of us when we arrived as new WorldTeach volunteers in Ecuador and when we reunited for our mid-service in Puerto Lopez. And there were nineteen of us when met all together one final time in a cloud forest to say goodbye and celebrate when our volunteer terms were over.

Molly organised her volunteering experience though WorldTeach.

Written by  Molly.

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