Less than a month until I leave for Ecuador!!! I am so excited I can hardly focus on everything I need to get done. In the next two weeks, I am moving out of my apartment and putting everything into storage, but I also have to figure out what to pack for Ecuador and not accidentally mix it up with the stuff going in storage.
Since this is my first Lumos blog entry, I will share a bit about my travel. I will be interning for three months with an organization in Quito, Ecuador called SINAMUNE, which stands for Sistema Nacional de Música para Niños Especiales, or in English, National Foundation of Music for Children with Special Needs.
From what I understand, Sinamune does a bit of everything. They provide music education services to children and adults with disabilities. They have an orchestra and offer music lessons. They also offer classes on activities of daily living, art, dancing, and more. According to some of the info I have received, they were originally funded by the Ecuadorian government, but the government dropped that funding, so the organization is now entirely self-sufficient. One of the primary ways they fund their programs is through presenting concerts for the local community and visiting tourists, for which they sell tickets and accept donations.
During my first few weeks I will be observing and assisting with a little bit of everything, and then as part of my internship I will have the opportunity to design and implement some of my own lessons and classes.
One thing I am quite excited about is the opportunity to practice and use Spanish. I actually started out at Belmont as a double major in Music Education and Spanish (before dropping the Spanish major to add a Music Therapy major). I had studied Spanish since 4th grade and I took Advanced Spanish language courses during my first year at Belmont, so I used to speak pretty well. However, since then I have not had many opportunities to practice. I love the Spanish language and I hope to be able to use it effectively to communicate with Spanish-speaking students and clients I will undoubtedly encounter throughout my career.
People have asked me if I’m worried about the Spanish component with my program, but I have been doing lots to prepare. I find that since I used to know Spanish well, it comes back pretty quickly when I am using it daily. I have been listening to Spanish radio, reading Spanish books, and watching Spanish movies. (Fun Fact: Most movies on Netflix have multiple language options, and Coco is definitely better in Spanish!) Additionally, I will have one-on-one Spanish language lessons weekly in Ecuador, so that will certainly help!
Another component of the program I have less experience with is the orchestra. I actually played viola in orchestra at school in 4th grade, but that is the extent of my orchestral experience. However, my cousin kindly lent me her violin, and I am taking a few lessons with a friend before I leave. Today I learned how to play a C major scale! I am excited to experience the orchestra at Sinamune.
Today I also got my typhoid vaccine, so I am all set on that front. However, I will have to go somewhere else to get my yellow fever vaccine because there is a national shortage and there are none left in Nashville! Apparently, we have had to import the French version of the vaccine. Who would have thought?! The nearest location with some left is Chattanooga, but fortunately I will be home in Atlanta and can get one there before I leave.
Here is a link to the Sinamune website! Everything is in Spanish, but if you scroll down to the bottom of the page, there are some videos, which you will enjoy immensely whether or not you speak Spanish, music being a universal language and all. https://voluntariosecuador.wixsite.com/sinamune
Well, that’s all for now! I’m off to keep packing and perhaps watch Coco again. ¡Adios!