Students experience global poverty in Duran, Ecuador

By Arielle Friscia
February 4, 2010

Winter break was the time for students to experience new cultures by traveling to Latin American countries like Guatemala and Ecuador. Those who traveled to Ecuador experienced life on a $1 a day and were able to see global poverty fi rsthand. From Dec. 12 to Dec. 20, 10 people from the Cabrini community got on a plane and for eight days lived in Ecuador.

The Rostro De Cristo service immersion experience is offered by Campus Ministry. Rostro De Cristo is an organization that works with Catholic Relief Services.

The experience is administered by volunteers–recent graduates from a university or college, who are doing a year of service in Duran, Ecuador. There are even some volunteers who decide to do two years of service in Duran and Guayaquil, Ecuador.

Students can currently pick up an application for the December 2010 trip. Students go through an interview process and then go through meetings during the fall semester to prepare for the trip.

The students were able to visit neighbors and learn the local culture as well as learn the wisdom from the neighbors they met. The students listened to their stories and asked questions about their life here in Ecuador. The group also visited various organizations such as Nuevo Mundo, which provides a free education for those living in the impoverished areas of Duran. The school is in a location called the Puntilla, which is the wealthy area near Duran.

The students also visited Padre Damian House, where they met patients who are suffering from Hanson’s disease, also known as leprosy. The house is a safe haven for people who have been isolated by their loved ones due to the disease.

It has been over a month since the group boarded their flight back to Philadelphia and they have finally had their first meeting since coming back. During the meeting students discussed ways in which their lives have changed. They discussed changes regarding water and electric conservation, as well as the lessons that they learned from the people they met.

“I went snowboarding when I got back and they were making snow with the snow machines,” Jenna Chiavoroli, senior elementary education major, said. “I was thinking about how much water they use to make the snow and how little amount of water the Ecuadorian people have.”

Students were able to connect with the neighbors, but many of the neighbors make crafts to sell to help provide for their families. On the last day students were able to buy gifts for family and friends. Kerry Allaire, junior elementary education major, bought a belt and jewelry for her family back home in New York.

“I’ve never seen my dad wear the same belt for so many days. My mom and dad would talk about how all their stuff was made in Ecuador,” Allaire said.

Even when they got back Chiavoroli had the opportunity to talk to her church about her experience in Ecuador. She prepared a poster with pictures and got to talk to people about what the things she saw and experienced there.

“We need to think about how we are one as an Ecuadorian family and how we can bring our experience to Cabrini’s campus,” Christa Angeloni, campus minister, said.

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Arielle Friscia

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