Over March break, I did something I’ve never done before. I went to Ecuador. This trip was organized through Education First tours, and the ME to WE organization, which makes it possible for kids like me to go abroad and do service work in a local community.
We were a group of 21, with three chaperones, 13 students, and five parents, who were accompanying their children. There were kids from Elphinstone Secondary, Cedar Grove Elementary and Kinnikinnick Elementary. There was quite an age range; the youngest was 10, and the oldest was 15. Nevertheless, our group came together and bonded over the many days we spent in each other’s company. Everyone was extraordinarily kind to each other, and those people will forever hold a special place in my heart.
Prior to the trip, as I went through the process of fundraising, organizing, and then finally, packing, I became filled with the kind of nervous excitement you experience only when you know you are about to embark on a life-changing journey.
And it was most definitely life-changing. As we travelled through the amazing country of Ecuador, we all got to experience things we never had before, and possibly never will again. We travelled through Quito, boated up the Amazon River, did service work in a local community nestled in the heart of the rainforest, and stayed at a beautiful lodge sprawled beside the river and surrounded by jungle. This was the ME to WE lodge, called Minga Lodge, where we stayed while doing our service work.
The work we did was based in a local school, where we got to interact with some of the beautiful local children. Although digging metre-deep holes in the muddy ground with intense humidity and heat was not something any of us were accustomed to, at the end of the day, I think I can speak for everyone in saying that we felt amazing and accomplished about the time and effort we had put in to help these kind people.
After that, the ME to WE portion of our trip was over, and Education First tours took us on more wild adventures that made our trip even more memorable than it already was. We visited the city of Bãnos, ate lunch in a local household, and visited an extraordinary market in the town of Otavalo, in which we got to spend half a day exploring the local handmade products that were on display.
Everything about the trip was well organized, from the places we stayed to the food we ate and the activities we did. The people we met were incredible; everyone was so open and helpful and kind. Although I returned from this trip utterly exhausted and worn out, I had a glow to me that I had never experienced before. I am so incredibly grateful that this opportunity was available to me, and I owe everyone who made it possible an enormous amount of gratitude!