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.

Three-Month Update from Ecuador

I’ve passed the three-month mark in Ecuador, and can’t be happier about my progress advancing my Lumos goals. The Manna Project community center’s programs are booming, and I’m thrilled to be leading many of them on a weekly basis. Here’s an overview of how my programming is going:

Reading Hour: The kids are learning to have more fun reading! They needed to be pushed with the help of a few structured activities to become more motivated to read. I created a Literary Bingo with challenges such as read a borrowed book, read a book in English, read a book to someone else, read a mystery, etc. and gave the kids the opportunity to win a prize. I plan to continue developing similar activities to keep the kids engaged and challenged.

Kids Cooking: Kids cooking is my program with the highest turnout of kids. It has grown from an average of about four participants when I started to as many as twelve. I am transitioning the program into not just an educational opportunity to learn how to cook, but also to review basic vocabulary. The kids love shouting out the names of the ingredients in English. I would like to engage the kids’ families in the program, and am planning to have the kids ask their parents for recipes to bring in.

Physical Activity: Rainy season has begun in Ecuador, so we can’t always play on the soccer field outside anymore. I would like to the use the time inside to organize some diagnostic measurement days for the kids to learn their weight, height, blood pressure, etc. I also would like to organize exercise stations in the center’s gym.

Guitar Club: Guitar club is a new program that just started at the center! The director brought in a professional guitarist from a guitar duo who is volunteering his time. However, he often cannot come, so I am periodically teaching the guitar class! It is great to be using my musical and Spanish skills. Many people in the community have come in with their own guitars eager to learn! I would like to think about what other talents of mine that I can channel in other talleres, or workshops such as dance and arts and crafts.

General Activity Leader: I am succeeding in getting the kids off technology and involved in more interactive activities. At a Manna Project goal-setting meeting, the Program Directors decided to create one interactive activity per week to provide during the general play time at the center. Some of my ideas include: a scavenger hunt, obstacle course, making a puzzle, and arts and crafts projects.

Now that I know my way around Ecuador, I’ve been able to narrow my focus towards forming relationships with the community members I spend time with inside and outside the center. Community members have driven me home for work, had me over to their houses for dinner, friended me on facebook, come to the center early before classes to get homework help from me, and invited me to go hiking with them. I want to continue revamping the center’s programs to be the best they can be, but also think about time spent with community members outside of the center’s programming. The center’s programs provide great educational content, but I can complement them holistically by getting to know the community members outside of them.

At the Manna Project’s goal-setting workshop, I set the following goals: advertise my weekly programs on social media and by word-of-mouth, set up more special workshops, plug my programs in my English classes, and involve family members in my programs – not just the kids. I want to think about all my skills that I can share at the center – the kids have been asking me about a dance class which I would love to teach! My parents will be visiting Ecuador this week and are bringing me some new supplies and arts and crafts materials! Stay tuned for more updates about what my Ecuadorian kids are up to at the Manna Project and happy Easter from Ecuador!

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The first winner of my Literary Bingo challenge!

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Some of my favorite kids from the Manna Project

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