Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Expanding our Volunteer Outreach

Each term the Universidad de San Francisco Quito sends a group of international students to live and learn in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno for one semester. Within this group, several students participate in various service projects during their stay in the Galapagos. The Hacienda is one of the chosen organizations to receive an intern each semester who serves as a program assistant and volunteer coordinator, and functions in both administrative and operative work. I myself am the current out-going intern at the Hacienda, and we should receive a new individual sometime in February.

Me playing with the INFA children at the Hacienda.

This post will include some of the activities GAIAS students have participated in around the Hacienda, and feature information of how we plan to connect with the university in the future. First, we had students help in early October with cleaning the local school in La Soledad in preparation for a festival. Of course, no cleaning can be done without first having pizza, and the students brought some amazing skills to cook their lunch. Afterwards, the students picked up trash around the school and road to the Mirador, painted some of the school building and basketball court, and made a few other needed repairs. The school looked great and was definitely ready for the festival.

One of the USFQ students helping to paint at the La Soledad school.

We also frequently had volunteers come in the afternoon to help around the garden and with the hippo-therapy program as needed. These students had a great time and were really helpful when only a few volunteers were living in the Hacienda.

A group of students that helped at the Hacienda.

Several professors at USFQ have also connected with the Hacienda to arrange visits for students to learn about the environment and development initiatives conducted by our program. One morning, twenty students came to the Hacienda to work in the Miconia area to control the invasive species. These students were taking a course on the plants of the Galapagos, so working and learning through physical work provided a unique experience for the students. This also took place when we had a large group from Denmark, which meant we had forty volunteers in total -- wow, what an impact!

The perfect opportunity for the outdoor classroom experience.

The international students always bring an interesting perspective to the service work they perform, and their insight and expertise have been helpful in a variety of functions. A community garden that links the international students, local residents, and the Hacienda in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno is currently in development. More information regarding this project will hopefully be available soon!

We are grateful for the volunteers USFQ provides us, and we look forward to new and exciting activities in the future!

Hacienda Tranquila

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