Having returned from Ecuador two months ago, we both find ourselves reminiscing about our short yet truly magnificent volunteer program in Quito.
As recent graduates from drama school in London, we spent a vast amount of time searching for and researching various volunteer programs that would provide guidance and support, while also allowing us the freedom to adapt and carry-out a project both beneficial to ourselves and those with whom we would work. And so we contacted Cosmic Volunteers.
Consequently, we arrived in Quito on June 12, 2005 excited and eager to start our five-week program teaching drama classes to young students.
It is almost impossible to describe the excitement we felt when entering this wonderful country. Immediately, we were in awe of the mountains surroundung the city of Quito and we couldn’t wait to explore as much of Ecuador as possible in between working days.
People had warned us continuously about the altitude sickness we were almost certain to experience, yet luckily for us both, we were fine!
We were also worried about our safety as two young English girls in such a large South American city, but we found that by keeping our wits about us and setting various “after-dark” guidelines, we were more than safe. The Ecuadorian people were so friendly and accepting of us that we found ourselves constantly surrounded by a large network of friends.
We were housed with a wonderfully warm and supportive host family, Jaime and Ines, our foster parents for the duration of our stay! They not only provided us with faultless accommodations and the best food we’ve ever eaten (Ines is a gem of a cook!), but also hours of patient conversation as we struggled to grasp the Spanish language (trying for anyone I should think!).
Our Project Coordinator in Ecuador was also on-hand 24/7 and nothing was too much trouble. She organized meetings with our drama group and their teacher, trips to the theater, flights to other parts of Ecuador when exploring, coach and bus information, and most importantly, Spanish lessons.
Amazingly, we spoke very little Spanish on arrival in Ecuador – maybe not the cleverest idea in the world! Yet within two weeks we were all but fluent!
We were also given the opportunity to work in a center for street children while in Quito, an experience so treasured in our memories.
We had such a diverse range of experiences in such a short expanse of time, ranging from teaching teenagers the art of improvisation, helping children as young as two with washing, feeding and educational activities, to traveling for days at a time to Andean and coastal regions (where we saw loads of humpback whales!), and spending quality time with an amazing group of people.
All in all, the whole experience was one that will stay with us forever, and we recommend Cosmic Volunteers to anyone thinking about volunteering abroad.
Lizzie earned a B.A. with Honors from the Central School of Speech and Drama in London. She has taken an active role in two productions, one of which was performed at the Minack Theatre in Cornwall. She has also worked and trained with Bigfoot Theatre Company in South West London.
Lucy studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London. She has also facilitated primary school children in an after school Drama club in Barnes, South West London. She also had a placement at the New Peckham Varieties, a Youth Theatre in South East London.
Lizzie Howard and Lucy Roberts (UK)
Drama teaching in Quito, Ecuador