As a volunteer with Intercordia I taught English in an elementary school in the Andes of Ecuador. I was told I would be the English Teaching Assistant. My reaction was "Okay, I can do that!" But when I arrived at this little school of 50 students in an indigenous community, I was the only person who could speak English for miles and miles. At the time, I spoke no Spanish. I knew that things would be interesting.
On my first day, I taught grades 1, 2, 6, and 7 with no resources and no prior knowledge of teaching techniques or pointers: it was just me in the mountains, in front of a classroom of eager, energetic Ecuadorian children. I was in way over my head for sure and I had no idea how the next three months would unfold.
After some frustration, I seized the opportunity and allowed my creative energy to soar by creating interactive English lesson plans for my students aged 4 to 14. Every day presented different challenges, and successes. I asked the principal why she was interested in having someone like me to come teach. She told me that she enjoyed the dynamic that was created because of my presence in the community and how I was able to stir the studentsí excitement about learning when, in a community where young children are needed to assist at home and with farming, many students are absent from school.
After 3 months of being greeted as Senorita Marian, I had created beautiful friendships with my students. I made red and white friendship bracelets for my students symbolizing the colours of the Canadian flag. As I tied on the bracelets on all my students' wrists, I explained to them how I felt that they represented our friendship and how I will never forget how they inspired me to smile everyday. My GSE experience with Intercordia was full of meaningful relationships like these.