Woman among students who spent spring break in Ecuador

SPRING VALLEY, Ohio — As part of an Alternative Spring Break Program, 13 students and 1 university representative from Northeastern University in Boston spent six days in Ecuador participating in a group service project organized for them by The Tandana Foundation. The students spent their time working in the rural community of Guachinguero and immersing themselves in the local culture.

Lake Placid resident Melissa Rath was one of the students who participated in this program. The group was in Ecuador from March 4-10. They spent their nights at a hostel in the nearby city of Otavalo and most of their days in Guachinguero. The program was filled with many wonderful memories for the students.

“I valued the new perspectives I have been given through interacting with and getting to know the community,” Rath said.

The Northeastern University students worked alongside community members on an ongoing construction project. Community members are currently working on building a multi-purpose community center.

The students helped community members build some of the walls of the building. Most of the building’s exterior walls are up, as well as a few of the interior walls. Building the walls involved sifting sand, mixing cement, placing blocks and filling in the empty spaces between the blocks with cement.

When they were not working on the community center, the students spent time with their new friends and learned about the culture of the region. Women in Guachinguero taught the students how to bake bread and make bracelets, and local children joined them for a short hike in the community.

The group visited the Living Kichwa Museum in Otavalo, where they learned about the language and culture of the region’s indigenous people. The students also went to the Cocina Kawsaymi Cooking School to make a delicious Ecuadorian meal. They capped off their time in Guachinguero with a despedida (farewell) lunch with community members.

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