My name is Madelin Ginster, and I am from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I am a junior at UW-Madison studying Early Childhood Education and English as a Second Language. I traveled to Guayaquil, Ecuador last summer for two months with two other UW students. I taught at Centro Ecuatoriano Norteamericano and worked closely with Education USA.
What inspired your interest in Ecuador?
In the Spring semester of 2019, my Spanish professor sent all of his students a link to internships in Spanish-speaking countries. An opportunity like this immediately sparked my interest. With my major being in Early Childhood Education and English as a Second Language, I looked for an internship that would fit well with this passion of mine. I ended up finding an internship that seemed almost too good to be true. I found the internship offered in Guayaquil, Ecuador, which would require me to teach English at Centro Ecuatoriano Norteamericano (CEN), an English school, and work closely with Education USA, an organization that helps Ecuadorian students to study in the United States. I was excited to go to Ecuador to be able to practice and work on my Spanish speaking skills and to explore a beautiful country I had never been to.
What advice do you have for students interning in Ecuador?
For anyone interested in doing this internship in Ecuador, I recommend a number of things but mostly to be easygoing. In all aspects of the experience–work, travel, and everyday life–being easygoing and adaptable to situations will be most beneficial. In the workplace, as the classes and students are new each month, preparing to teach classes will need to be done quickly. It may seem overwhelming if you are a planner, but learning to adapt to the situation will be an advantage. While traveling, schedules or other plans will most likely not always go as planned. It seemed that bus schedules were constantly changing, or last minute plans were made for the weekend, and being easygoing during all of these situations made the experience more fun. Being adaptable to a new environment, difficulties, or just what life throws at you will allow you to have the best time during your internship!
What surprised you most about Ecuador?
I felt my entire experience in Ecuador was a learning opportunity, and I came in with few expectations, ready to experience a new culture. With that in mind, one thing that did surprise me was just how diverse the climate and landscape of Ecuador is. In Guayaquil, the city that the internship is located in, it is extremely humid, hot, and cloudy most of the year. It is very metropolitan and business-centered, with many modern conveniences. Traveling just a couple hours to the beach, most often the sky cleared up to be sunny, and it was the perfect beach climate with a more laid-back vibe and modest buildings or houses. Traveling to mountain towns like Baños (I highly recommend!), it was usually in the 60s (Fahrenheit) and constantly raining, with the town being more touristy. The popular city of Cuenca, filled with cobblestone streets and beautiful historic cathedrals, was also colder than expected, similar to Baños. Though I knew Ecuador was a large country, and therefore, bound to have different types of cities and weather, such drastic differences were unexpected, but nonetheless, beautiful!
Thank you to Madelin for sharing her experience! To learn more about interning with the Centro Ecuatoriano Norteamericano, visit our database. Applications for Summer 2020 internships will be open soon.