Wow… I’m done! Well, at least with the academic portion of the semester, which arguably has not been the most important part. Or I suppose I should be more specific—I’ve finished my last formal assignment—because I really am learning through everything I do here.
On Tuesday, I left Chota with a first draft of my ISP paper, and came to Otavalo to spend the rest of this week editing, printing, making copies, etc. I had spent the weekend frantically writing, as my advisor told me he needed a first draft by Sunday morning, on Saturday night around 6PM. At that point, I had written about 10 pages… and I somehow managed to write about 12 more by the next morning. Luckily, I am obsessed with my topic, so the writing part wasn’t really as difficult as I thought it would be.
And, because I truly believe in the importance of what I am writing about (ok, wrote about, time to move on!), I will quickly summarize what I ended up writing about my longest paper ever.
In the end, my experience with “ethnoeducation” translated into the importance of educating from one’s own cultural reality, that a homogenous education system is not the answer because, despite the fact that we all share a common humanity (as I am apt to believe), culture and history are incredibly important.
The fact that Afroecuadorians have never been taught their own history, were not recognized legally in the country until 1998 Constitution, that this is racist country (it’s not alone), that there was no high school or electricity in el Valle del Chota until the late 70s, all have made me realize the importance of context, the importance of intercultural understanding, the importance of reinforcing a positive concept of identity.
And that is where the project of ethnoeduaction comes in. It provides a space, within the school and outside of it, that values the identity, history and culture of Afroecuadorians. For my project, I focused on its manifestation in the school system, the class of ethnoeduaction, the process of creating textbooks, and the goals for the future. But, as I was told many times, “es un proyecto de vida” – it’s a project of life.
Now, though, the project is moving into the formal sector, into schools, with the goal of being included in the national curriculum. More than ever, this is necessary. Ecuador claims to be an intercultural and plurinational state, but without the inclusion of Afroecuadorians in the education system, I argue that it is not. However, it is now firmly in the process, thanks to the dedication and hard work of individuals, working from the bottom up with very little funding, working hard to implement Afroecuadorian ethnoeduaction.
Essentially, I could talk about this forever—it’s amazing how much information I couldn’t put in a thirty page paper.
And wow, once again, I can’t believe that that part is over, basically what this whole semester has been leading up to. Also, the fact that it is May 4th?!? I can hardly believe it, where did these months go?
Now, I have a few weeks to keep discovering, keeping talking, keep eating the most delicious fruits, that have unfortunately made me a little sick, but that’s ok—the risks I was willing to take for part of the day spent in bed.
Example: for breakfast yesterday, Ellicott (my Otavalo and paper writing buddy) and I started out with a cup of Intag coffee, perhaps some of the best I’ve ever had, then headed to a bakery to buy some pan de maiz (cornbread, but nothing at all like US cornbread), which was also the best I’ve ever had, and then headed to the fruit market, and bought a huge papaya, split it down the middle, and had an excellent picnic back at our hostel. Many more delicious meals to come, I am sure.
On Sunday, our whole group meets up again for presentations and evaluation, and it will be so wonderful to see everyone again, hear all the stories, what everyone has learned and experienced!! And then, we have to say goodbye and be sad, but I’m just not going to think about that.
I was thinking this might be last blog post about Ecuador, but I need a little more distance to figure out what it has all meant, to sum it up. So, more to come, perhaps.
In these next two and a half weeks, I’ll do my best to keep making this one of the best times in my life. I don’t think it will too difficult…
**I wrote this on Friday– and am feeling much better!