Monday, May 3, 2010

Volunteer Ecuador and WWOOFing

One thing I love about google chrome [which is one of the best applications]... when you search a lot of sites that are in another language, it asks you if you want to change the language - how perfect! I highly suggest everyone with a mac get google chrome! you won't be disappointed!

So when I was looking for something else to write about, I started to look into newspapers from Ecuador, especially ones in English. Instead of giving me a newspaper, I came across this website: Volunteering Ecuador. I think that this is interesting and it is a very good idea for people looking to look for other volunteer opportunities abroad. I think that it is a great website to just look through and see what kind of other opportunties are available - especially when i'm graduating and have NO idea what I wanted to do. Also, since i'm looking for jobs simply in New York, it makes me laugh at the currency different, even though they do use the dollar, it is $350 per week for a teaching job that I was looking at, which would be nothing in the US, yet some of the people living in Duran live only $1 per day!

It also reflect something that I have been thinking about doing for a long time which is WWOOF-ing (world wide opportunities on organic farms), traveling through a country/state or other place to work on farms or do work for people. My best friend did a program in New Zealand just last semester where she got the chance to buy a car with her sister and drive around to places from a website, and work for people in return for food and sleep. I think it is a great opportunity, especially when you thrive to travel!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Happy Spring Weekend!

This weekend marks my third and final Spring Weekend at Fordham - so surreal... just pretending it isn't the last. I am honestly just so excited that I got here and am actually going to graduate on time. What is great is that everyone will be out - especially my EcuaLoves, and I hope to be able to run into them all. Although I am stuck inside at my internship on the Friday of spring weekend, hopping the next Ram Van back to campus is what is helping me out... I may even take a cab back to Lincoln Center because I am THAT lazy.

This is about the time of the year when I start to evaluate my year at Fordham, yet this year it is different because I am looking back at my whole college career. I think that my trip to Ecuador was definitely one of the biggest highlights of my college career, and to think about all that I have gone through, it happened right at the same time. Although I only spent a week in Duran, I have found it extremely helpful to read through the blogs of the current Rostro de Cristo volunteers, like Jamie, Dan, and Tom's blogs. Here are the links... definitely check them out! If you think that I am confused about how I feel and how to relate it back to my life (and even how to understand it in general)!

Jamie's A Nurse Goes to Ecuador
Tom's Tomas in Ecuador
Dan's Babylon Burn Down

They are definitely very enlightening, and are all very deep and impressive writers. Though they don't update a lot, it definitely helps me to read them and better understand what I went through... and what they are going through for the whole year.

Some exciting news:  One of the chaperone's from my trip, Danielle, had originally planned on applying for the 3rd round of JVC, but when she found out that she most likely wouldn't get placed, she did not know what to do. At the same time, she noticed that Elyse from RdC was on gChat and decided to just ask her a few questions. After their quick chat Elyse asked Danielle if she could meet with her that Sunday when she would be in NYC, and sent her all the paper work to be a volunteer for RdC. With 2 days to spare, Danielle found out that they had not placed the last spot in the houses yet and told Danielle to apply. Although people were on the wait list, Danielle was in the top 3 for this last spot - Talk about FATE! I am on my toes waiting for her to let me know back about what happened, since she should know soon!
I'll keep you all informed!


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Technology down-grade

I feel as though I went on this trip not expecting much, but now that I am back and still not feeling any big change, I have to take a look at the smaller things.

Last Saturday I made the trip into Manhattan and headed to the verizon store with old phone in hand. I made the switch back! Bigggggg thangs! I downgraded from my Blackberry, back to my LG EnV2. Believe me, this was a big step and still is. Weird thing though, everyone told me that I would feel detached, but true fact is that I feel more attached. I am no longer constantly checking my e-mails, I am not waiting for a facebook notification, and I can still just normally text people without using BBM. It is so much easier to be attached to real life without a blackberry constantly in my pocket. Although I do miss getting e-mails right away or being able to check the weather, or find the location of the nearest Jamba Juice... it had made things simple and I am starting to get really used to it.

Coming back, I have honestly realized how much technology detaches us from one another. We no longer are able to have normal conversations at lunch, or at the dinner table, and someone ALWAYS has their cell phone out. I have been able to slowly detach myself from the cell phone in general, as well as save my mother $30 a month! Very thoughtful of me!

Friday, April 23, 2010

GO! Gala!

I was going to just put this all in my last post, but it got too long... plus it deserves its own post anyways!

This past Saturday was the GO! Gala where all people over 21 (mostly Seniors and alum) can attend a lovely evening where the scholarship receipents get there scholarship awards, there is dinner, lots of drinking... and lots of dancing ensues. If you are an underclassman... do a GO trip just for the GO! gala. $50 was a bit steep for the event but it was so totally worth it in the end, plus I ended up knowing a lot of people there.

I was a bit nervous going because none of the other Seniors from Ecuador were going to it... considering the price, but I wanted to be there to get my awards so I sucked it up. One of my chaperones, Danielle, ended up being there, as well as my leader from my Mexico trip and a bunch of other people! I was so happy to know someone.

At the beginning of the night I was asked to sit with the Aquilone family and Michael, the gentleman I had the interview with, and I was so glad I did, as I thought we would have NOTHING to talk about. They were absolutely the sweetest people ever. I'm sure they definitely raised a great son, and I am sad they lost him at such a young age. Mrs. Aquilone had gone to Fordham to get her masters in Social Work, and she had so many stories to tell. I was able to learn about the volunteer work she now does, as she is retired, and what the social work scene is like. We talked about adoption for a while and how much the system has changed since she started, and I was just so enlightened. One other girl also received the award with myself, and so it was great to meet someone at Fordham that I had not before.

Once the awards and dinner came to and end, the Aquilone's went home, and the dancing began. With drinks in hand (no worries... we are all 21), we all hit the dance floor... and as per the rumor, Paul Francis got his groove on. Multiple Fordham administrators joined us on the dance floor and we all broke it down, plus one of my other co-workers from ram van got one of our bosses out to dance with us!

Definitely better than I expected it to be, and I am glad it was! :)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


(well... not this much).

So almost a week and a half ago I had an interview for the Peter Aquilone scholarship. It is given out every year to 2 people who attend a GO! trip in Winter or over Spring Break, that exemplify the qualities that Peter exemplified before his unfortunate death in 2003.

I made the hike in between classes to W. 172nd and... some random street that I had never heard of. Some how I made it there via the bus, which I have never taken a long distance before, and found the office of Michael, one of Peter's friends from Fordham undergrad. I didn't really know how to act and considering the crappy weather, wasn't really in a good mood, but managed to be myself and be happy, and act like I really did want to be there (well I did... but ya know).

Anyways, I thought the interview went really well and he told me that the recipients would know by Thursday (it was Monday). Thursday came and went, and I never heard from him. I went home for Easter break and just assumed that I did not get the scholarship. My mom wrote me a check for the remainder of the payment due and I handed it in on Wednesday. On Thursday I talked to one of my professors about the interview and what I could have done wrong... I thought I really had messed up!
Friday afternoon, after returning from my internship and having just spent my last $30 on groceries, I got a phone call from Michael, who apologized for not having contacted me. He told me that he wanted to offer me the scholarship and asked that I attend the GO! gala the next weekend. I was SO excited and honestly did not believe him... I kept saying: "you are kidding, right?!" Funny thing is, right as he was saying it, my phone cut out and I asked him to repeat what he had said. He thought I just wanted to hear him say it again!

Anyways, I am so happy to be getting some money back from all that I have put towards this trip and even happier that I got chosen for the scholarship!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Small things I have learned from Ecuador

Just a couple of things that I was thinking about after returning that I think have now become points that I reflected on, and have taken into consideration:
  • Lime juice is a simple and easy substitute for salad dressing
  • Plantains are a great source of carbs and are extremely easy to make, taste really good, and can be made in different ways!
  • Cold, military style showers really aren't that bad.
  • Humidity and heat simply mean that you can shower more, but you still never feel clean.
  • Sun tan lotion works as a good moisturizing substitute (not like you have to moisturize in 95 degree weather).
  • It is really hard to brush your teeth without water... when you can't drink the tap water.
  • You can live without technology, cell phones, laptops... better yet without knowing the time.
  • When climbing 500 steps, don't wear flip flops.
  • Don't under estimate 95 degree, humid weather... you will sweat... and you will want clean clothes.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Boarding: Back to the States

Waking up in a panic, Christine realized right before bed that the itinerary was wrong and that our plane left an hour earlier that we had thought. She woke us up an hour earlier that we thought (not like we knew what time it was anyways), we pounded on the volunteer house door and woke them up to take us to the airport. They were not really happy campers!

We made our plane with plenty of time, and the culture shock already hit, even while sitting in the Guayaquil airport. Televisions, cell phones, RUNNING WATER... it was all too much. Thankfully we had no problems or delays, and things ended up working out really well coming home (which was kind of sad!). We all slept a lot and journaled, and attempted to ready ourselves for our return to the United States.

Flying back to New York

Upon boarding our flight from Miami to LaGuardia, we got a real reality shock when a group of about 25 Fordham students, tanned and hyper, were on our same flight... they were coming back from Punta Cana (lucky them?). And when we landed at LaGuardia, we were right back into things, almost like we never left. One of the ram van drivers, a friend of mine, picked us up at the airport, and it was almost like we had never been away. It was a crazy feeling since we had just gone through some of the most amazing experiences any of us had ever had. It was hard to not forget, but at the same time, being back in the States slightly forced us to get right back into normal life.

When I got back into my room... all alone... by myself, I sat in front of my turned off computer and cried! I was so overwhelmed, and called my mother to let her know I was back. I hopped in the shower and couldn't help but start crying again - I wanted to turn off the water while I showered! I was wasting water!... but I really wasn't, in US standards. "I pay for this water", I thought, "it's okay, Sarah... just take a REAL shower." The smallest things, since i have been back, still seem to amaze me, like running water and the small things we have that they don't. But as I have been told, in a story by one of my chaperone's, "you can't send the water to them!"