By: Bri Hallman
While most students are headed to the nearest—and farthest, depending on the budget—coast for their much-needed spring break, a group of eight philanthropists traveled to Sangolqui, Ecuador where they gained more than they expected.
This group of University of Findlay students, comprised of physical therapy, occupational therapy, and computer science majors, completed this trip as a part of campus philanthropy group Oilers Serving Abroad. OSA, founded in 2013, has sends groups of students to foreign countries.
This was physical therapy student Adrian Ewald’s first time traveling with the OSA. It was also her first time out of the country and first time flying.
“I decided that I’d rather spend my time going somewhere else and getting to serve in some capacity,” Ewald said. “I wanted to experience and be immersed in a culture, even somewhere where I didn’t know the language.”
The students did experience a culture shock with some aspects of the trip.
“The culture is a lot more relaxed,” said Jenna Bullock, one of the other physical therapy graduate students. “Whatever happens, happens, and it’s more go with the flow.”
Ewald noted that the lack of urgency made her pause.
“Ecuador isn’t time-oriented at all,” Ewald said. “This was an interesting experience because I’m like, ‘can we kind of be on time?’”
The itinerary consisted of a good balance between sight-seeing and –experiencing, but also helping the local communities.
“The first part of the week was seeing the country because everything was closed down for a national holiday, and the second part of the week we started our service projects,” Bullock said.
The group traveled to the Rumibosque Waterfall for a hike, the Sangolqui Market for authentic food, and Mita Del Mundo, the “Middle of the World”, commonly known as the Equator.
Even with the beautiful views and the occasional salsa dancing class, both Bullock and Ewald note that their favorite day was Friday, their last full day of the trip.
“We went to a place called Antorcha de Vida. It was a special needs facility and served as a school, with different ages and capabilities…We got to go swimming with them in a pool and got to be one-on-one with them,” Ewald said. “I just thought that was really interesting because that showed me that you could communicate, that we could still form that connection.”
Bullock echoed Ewald’s story.
“It was just so meaningful for us because we all love kids and interacting with them, so going to go and engage with them on one of their normal days was amazing.”
Ewald said she would go again and noted, “There’s just so much more to life, and so much more I can put into life. Like, what I can put into other peoples’ lives, and you kind of just wonder, ‘Why have I not been doing more?’”