Erin Sanislo
Erin Sanislo
Ecuador 2018
From January – April 2018, I partnered with Manna Project International to advance literacy and develop arts and creative programming at the Manna Project’s library in the Chillos Valley community outside of Quito, Ecuador. Join me on my journey to empower Ecuadorian children and connect them to books.

In the Swing of Things

17 days in Ecuador down! I’ve acclimatized to the altitude, learned how to navigate the bus system, spent a week with a host family, and most importantly, started leading my programs with the Manna Project.

Here is a rundown of my weekly programs at the Manna Project’s community center and library:

Kid’s Cooking: Every Wednesday, I cook a healthy recipe with the kids in the community center’s kitchen. As we cook, I provide information about nutrition and healthy living. While our food is in the oven, we usually head over to the center’s gym to exercise and play sports. My first week leading the program was a success! The kids prepared prosciutto and melon kebabs and chocolate-covered strawberries. They even cleaned up their mess in the kitchen afterwards!

Physical Activity Hour: A new program that I am developing is physical activity hour, a program two times per week that motivates kids to exercise. This week, we played kickball outside, lifted weights, did cardio exercises, and played parachute tag games. Physical activity hour is a great way to channel the kids’ energy and get to know them!

Library Hour: Every Friday afternoon, I lead a story time with the kids. We take turns reading the pages of the books and I give them comprehension questions. Literacy is central to my goals for my time in Ecuador. Along with implementing the story time hour, I also advocated for a new policy at the community center. When kids come in, they must read for 15 minutes before being able to check out games from our counter or sign up for computer time. The kids are trained now to know that the library room is their first stop at the community center. A feature I will also implement for library hour is using bilingual books to simultaneously improve literacy and English skills!

Adult English 1: English is of high-need in the Valley of Los Chillos. I teach a three-hour class on Saturdays. So far, the class has been a great way to relate to the community members and learn about the struggles they are facing with their educations, jobs, and other challenges in the community.

Kids English 3: I teach English to eight and nine year olds on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

General Activity Leader: The general activity leader is responsible for running the floor at the community center outside of program time, which includes engaging the kids in activities such as games, arts and crafts, reading, and puzzles.

Homework Help/Tutoring: The “Sala de Estudios” is a computer lab/study space where kids can bring their homework or study materials for standardized English exams. The homework help that the Manna Project provides is critical; many parents in the community do not have the level of English or expertise in the different school subjects to be able to help their children. The homework help that Manna provides is also helpful for students in large classes in the public schools who receive very little attention from their teachers. 

Chaupitena: In two weeks, I will be starting to volunteer my time with the Manna Project’s partner, Chaupitena. Chaupitena is a public high school in the Chillos Valley. I will offer my assistance as a native speaker at English classes at Chaupitena and assist with lesson plans, presentations, and teaching classes.

So far, my service at the Manna Project has been rewarding. Some children have told me that I give them more attention and spend more time with them than their parents. Many of the kids are regulars that come to the community center from 2 pm – 7 pm every day. I’m excited to boost attendance at the center’s programs and become a steady presence in the kids’ lives that can influence them for the better.

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Parachute time during physical activity hour

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Kid’s cooking class – I’m also learning to cook alongside the kids!

One thought on “In the Swing of Things”

  1. Training the children that the library is the first stop at the community center is such an excellent idea. This is a lesson that may stick with them throughout their lives. I also like how you are mixing in the physical activity and how that enables you to get to know them better.

    You are doing great work, Erin!

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