Volunteering at The Yanapuma Foundation, Quito, Ecuador  » Other  »
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E8-125 Veintimilla y 6 de Diciembre, Quito - Ecuador
  • Volunteering with the Yanapuma Foundation in Ecuador is a unique experience
  • What I found is that like me, Yanapuma is just as through when matching there volunteers with projects
  • Things moved quickly and the kids enjoyed learning the new words for familiar objects around them
  • I've noticed that as the Foundation grows so does the infrastructure and level of organization

    • by FinnMcCool

      all reviews
      Volunteering with the Yanapuma Foundation in Ecuador is a unique experience. At times one can feel overwhelmed with the scope of what the foundation does, but the overall experience brings together the expertise and genuine spirit of the foundation itself with the setbacks and frustrations of trying to accomplish something in Ecuador’s culture. The combination provides a positive, realistic, outcome that gives pause to the shortcomings of Yanapuma in lieu of their accomplishments.

      I arrived in Quito after a long planes journey from The United States and was greeted the airport by a friend of the Foundations. Once settled in an apartment close to the Foundation I spent the night wondering what lay in-store for me the next day. The Yanapuma Foundation had been recommended to me by various people I had contacted over a six month period of research prior to deciding on one specific organization. What I found is that like me, Yanapuma is just as through when matching there volunteers with projects.

      I arrived the following morning and was greeted by the man who started Yanapuma, Any Kirby. Andy is a Scotsman who graduated with a degree in Environmental Psychology before decided to travel to South America. He never left. After working for a few other non-profit organizations, Andy decided to start his own. He now works tirelessly to run one of the most effective non-profits for volunteers available.

      From the first morning I was thrown into the mix. I had signed up for

      Spanish lessons in the afternoon for a month and also was to volunteer three times a week at a pre-school located on the outskirts of Quito teaching English to four and five year olds. Andy and I visited the school a few days after my arrival in Quito where I assisted him in building cabinets for the tiny school. He introduced me to the teachers and staff at the school and showed me the bus route while answering my many questions about his foundation and the projects that they attempt to facilitate.

      My experience from there was full of triumphs and setbacks and the staff at Yanapuma were on hand to encourage me for the duration of my time spent studying Spanish at teaching children their first basic words in Spanish. The combination of both teaching and learning worked well for me. During the morning I would travel to the school on the outskirts of Quito while studying the Spanish that I had learned the day before.

      Once at the school a sort of comedy presented itself everyday. With my newly learned Spanish I would struggle to understand the teachers and therefore the lesson plans, schedule, and other important instructions that they patiently explained to me over and over again. Once vaguely understood, the days lesson started.

      Lessons for both the four and five year old were similar. With materials I had prepared from the foundations library of materials, we handed out drawings and colored pencils to eager students ...

      • who were looking forward to a day of classroom instruction and playtime. Once settled I was guided by the teachers into explaining the different colors, animals, and foods in English and in Spanish. Things moved quickly and the kids enjoyed learning the new words for familiar objects around them.

        I enjoyed the lessons as well. For an adult struggling with a new language for four hours a day in a classroom and then trying my best to practice what I had learned on unsuspecting strangers, this experience was a welcome relief. The kids that I was teaching English to were on par with the Spanish that I felt comfortable enough to speak. I often left the school looking forward to the day’s lesson with my Spanish teacher and hope to find better ways to teach the kids that were so enthusiastic to learn.

        This is where I found the staff at Yanapuma to be so helpful. Once I had experienced the confusion and frustration of not being able to communicate what I wanted to with the adults at the school I had a resource to get help and advice from. I would go to classes every afternoon with a list of things that I didnâ?Tt understand. Andy, the volunteer coordinator, and my Spanish teacher were all involved with helping me find innovative ways to solve the setbacks I was experiencing as well as encouraging me to speak as much Spanish as possible while in a safe environment.

        I have

        heard negative feedback about Yanapuma that they try and take on too much. They place volunteers in suitable positions, organize gap year groups activities for the duration of their stay in Ecuador, and run a Spanish School on their premises. Their list of projects grows and so do the areas of expertise that they handle. Despite the criticism, I have found The Yanapuma Foundation to be one of the most active volunteer organizations here in Ecuador. They do take on an astounding load of work. I’ve noticed that as the Foundation grows so does the infrastructure and level of organization: They are continually hiring interns and professionals in fields that they are involved in in order to adapt and continue to be effective. The most recent addition is a long term intern that is responsible for placing independent volunteers and checking in with them frequently during their stay in the different parts of Ecuador. On a personal level I found the staff and founder of the Yanapuma Foundation to be experts at what they do and willing to share their time and expertise with a green volunteer such as myself. This made the difference in my experience in Ecuador.

        While I might not of made the kind of difference that I had hoped to on my first experience volunteering in another country, I left felling that I had contributed in a positive way that had everything to do with the methodologies that Yanapuma incorporates into their programs.

    • Don't Be Nice. Be Helpful.

    The review was published as it's written by reviewer in July, 2009. The reviewer certified that no compensation was received from the reviewed item producer, trademark owner or any other institution, related with the item reviewed. The site is not responsible for the mistakes made. 121607764090931/k2311a0716/7.16.09
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