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This week concludes the volunteers’ last week in their rural communities. Volunteer Michael wanted to take a moment to reflect on his time in Chobshi, his host community:

My past few weeks here in Chobshi have gone by incredibly fast. I live in a house with three host brothers and one host sister. We live right next door to my four host cousins. Each night, I have the opportunity to spend time with my eight host siblings, playing soccer, watching movies, and helping clean tomatoes from my host dad’s farm. There is a lot of work to do, but it always gets done, and there is always time for family.

I have what is known as a rotating meal plan. With this, I have the opportunity to learn more about my community by working and eating with a different family each day. I have done everything from painting old lanterns for decoration in the family café, to preparing cuyes for dinner. Each experience has helped me grow in so many different ways. I have never thought of myself as an overly social person, but through this trip, I have had the opportunity to break out of my shell. And, of course, never would I have thought that milking a cow would be so hard.

As my last few days in community come to a close, I am truly sad to leave. I have made so many friends from both the US and Ecuador; I have experienced interesting different ways of life; I have eaten mountains incredible food, and so much more. I hope to return to my community in the coming years. My family told me that I will always have a bed to return to.

It has been such a joy for project staff to witness the growth our volunteers throughout the rural portion of the project and watch them connect with the members in their host communities.

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