Realizations during experiences

Shauni Lustig - Ecuador


October 15, 2017

When people say that having a sense of empathy changes your outlook on things, they’re not lying. This week I started my apprenticeship in la casa hogar para todos. For those who don’t know, this is an orphanage. I had mentioned many times before my disliking of children and how apprehensive I was towards starting this new job. I’m not going to say that I had some huge discovery in this first week where I realized I actually love kids and I’m so happy to have received this job. But I will say that working this first week has given me a different outlook on the types of children that are living there and how I’m supposed to fit in. 

As I get on the public bus leaving from Biblián to head to azogues I’m playing over and over in my head the directions my host mom showed me on how to get there. I watch carefully out the window making sure I don’t miss my first stop. I’m counting the change in my little pouch making sure I have enough for this bus and the next. I get off the first bus and realize once again how much I stand out at this small bus stop. There’s a group of teenagers who are standing nearby giggling. I see my next bus approaching and am relieved. I check my watch and I have fifteen minutes until I need to be at my apprenticeship. I stand up to get off the bus and a lady has to tell me to push a button in order to leave. I’m grateful because if she hadn’t I wouldn’t have ever gotten off. As I’m walking up to the door of my apprenticeship I have no idea what to expect that they have planned for me today. I’m welcomed in and shown to a room where no one is. Eventually I am greeted by who I assume is my supervisor and she and I talk about my schedule. All in Spanish by the way. She had no more work for me afterwards and I was sent home early. I guided myself through the path I needed to go to find my bus home. All was easy today. 

My first real day at work was not so calm. I was told to just sit and watch all of the children while they played. There’s a group of boys aged 11, 12, and 14, who like to give me a really hard time. All the time. This first day however I will admit was one of the worst so far. They all had little balls of clay that they’d compete to throw at me. As I’m sitting on the patio surrounded by at least 15 kids all playing and hurting each other I’m confused at what I’m supposed to be doing and how I’m supposed to fit in here. 

The second day got a little easier as I was introduced to another volunteer who was working with me from Germany. He helped me handle the devious little boys and also helped me stay entertained.

The third day was similar but I had met another volunteer from Germany as well. She provided a different insight to the job because she as well doesn’t like working there. She feels unneeded and unwanted. 

The fourth day, and the last for the week, I was starting to figure things out for myself. Realizing that I prefer to be with the one year old baby all day instead of surrounded by the older rambunctious kids. I could use her as a way to escape and take a break from all the chaos.  

My reflection of this week is that in order to find peace at my job I have to do things myself and not wait for somebody to give me some kind of instruction. Because honestly, at this job, nobody gives me anything to do. I’ve also realized that after that first day on the bus being so nervous, every day after I was less and less nervous. Realizing this gives me hope that maybe my apprenticeship will get easier as I continue. With the rambunctious boys when I see them asking me for help with their English homework or I see them in a moment of sadness I remember why they’re in this place and I try to think of what I can do to help them out in the time I’m here. 

After taking a week off I’m curious to see how things are when I return. 

Shauni Lustig