At home in the Galapagos: Alejandra's Story, Part II

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Work Exchanges

Work Exchanges

By Alejandra Cox, CIEE Work & Travel USA participant, 2011, 2013, 2014, and Civic Leadership Summit fellow, 2014. Read Part I from Alejandra's story first!

I graduated from University two years ago and I have returned to my islands. I can spend more time with my family again even though we live on separate islands. I’m working as a communicator at an institution of cultural management in Ecuador and also with an NGO called Ecology Project International (EPI). Its purpose is empowering the next generation of conservation leaders. I have the opportunity to be close to children and young people in my community and we teach them Galapagos topics such as geology, protecting the environment, natural history, climate, human history, and evolution through disciplines such as painting, dance, and music. I believe that the experience of having been in the United States, and specifically being part of the Civic Leadership Summit, helped me to realize how committed each of my colleagues was with their personal aspirations, and how important it is to set a goal to reach it. I also loved that CIEE encouraged us to do something in our community back home.

These photos are just some of the hundreds I have from a recent summer camp we had during school vacation. The teachers from Casa de la Cultura Galápagos (CCENG) were in charge of teaching the kids: dance, painting and music, while the EPI teachers taught them conservation topics.

At this time of year, the children of Galápagos are on school vacation. So, we created a summer camp with countless activities to keep the children occupied in a productive way. I asked my boss if could teach a mobile device photography workshop to children on Floreana Island (located two hours away from mine by ferry) and he said YES! These children are far from all luxuries and resources are scarce. For example, there is not much water on the island and they must wait for long periods of time for the cargo ship to arrive with food. The resources and opportunities are not the same as in the other islands.

During the photography workshop in Floreana, classes were taught in the classroom of the only school that exists on the island. First I taught them a theory class and then we went out to take pictures of the beach or of the pier. They took photos of pelicans, land and marine iguanas, turtles, crabs, sea lions and plants, in this living laboratory as is Galapagos!

While I was on Floreana Island, I took pictures of the people who live on the island for my personal project called “Gente de Galápagos” or “People of the Galapagos”. I photograph the people of Galapagos from the first residents to the new generations, accompanied by a text where they tell me a little of their daily life. I usually choose people who do some work that contributes as a good example to the rest of the community.

You can follow us on Instagram @gentedegalapagos and Facebook:

Sometimes, when I walk through the streets of my island, there are some sites that come like a small breeze accompanied by the warmest smells of my summers: smells like Lake Erie, cotton candy of many flavors, and fresh almonds just made. This is when all my senses get activated, and here's when I can hear and I can see the birds flying over me in a wide orange sunset of July.

 It’s interesting because people are always asking me how did I do it, how did I apply for the CIEE Work & Travel USA Program, what are some tips I can give them. Every time I tell them about the process and the experience behind all of this, it creates a mixture of feelings inside me that contains joy and sadness; it means talking about a time in which I would like to return again and again!

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