Carnaval, Baños, Despedida, and Service

Our final week of the study portion of SST was an eventful one.   It began with the widely celebrated Ecuadorian national holiday of Carnaval. This pre-lenten four-day party involves getting soaking wet and covered in foam in many parts of the country.  Students experienced activities in Carnaval in wide-ranging ways including parades, concerts, water, and foam.

After Carnaval, we headed on our last group trip together to Baños, a beautiful gateway to the Amazon as one descends out of the Andes to the east.  We experienced deep gorges, massive waterfalls, and volcanic thermal waters.  This time was also an opportunity to reflect on the coming time of service and what it means to serve others.

Upon our return to Quito, we participated in some final activities at Casa Goshen which included some students preparing traditional Ecuadorian meals and others treating us to a humorous skit of a Quito street scene.  As we concluded our final day in Quito together, we hosted a “Despedida” or farewell time of appreciation for our Quito host families.  It was a special time of reflection and gratitude for the ways in which these families accepted our students into their homes as new children, siblings, and grandchildren.

The week concluded with our students heading out to their service placements in smaller towns and cities around Ecuador.  They were welcomed upon their arrival by their new families and began the process of settling into a new rhythm of life over the next six weeks.  Stay tuned in a few weeks for blog posts from our students as they focus on stories that have been meaningful to them in their first eight weeks of SST.