Our journey has begun. Who are we? There are five of us: all well-traveled, seemingly intelligent, fairly articulate, and definitely experienced (read: ah hum, mature). I think I have gray hairs older than Maggie, our team leader, but I will remain hopeful. She told us she will take good care of us and be our 32-year-old mother for the duration of the adventure in service. Despite her obvious youth handicap, we feel we are in good hands.
Team #157 to Ecuador: Pam, Dee Dee, Robert, Liz, and Mark
Today orientation began with a review of the Philosophy of Service and Guiding Principles. We’ve all read this prior to coming – something apparently not all teams do. Perhaps she thinks we’re too old to retain this information. But it leads to a discussion and reinforces a very thoughtful, bottoms up approach to service volunteerism in my mind.
Then we developed team goals by answering the question, “What do you want to get out of this experience?” The unanimous answers can be boiled down to: we want to learn and help. I think these are the only pre-requisites.
Next we meet President Eva and Treasurer Marujita of our host organization, FUNDAC. Despite requiring their words to be translated, it is obvious these are strong, formidable women. Based on the questions and comments from us, we appear anxious to get started. For the Health and Safety module, our leader pointed me out as evidence of how close the sun is here. My blushing was hidden by my tomato-tinged skin. Finally, it’s time for Spanish lessons. Being a group of over-achievers, we easily mangle our host country’s language as well, if not better, than any team before us.
We created personal goals that we recrafted deftly into team goals:
To improve our Spanish
To learn about Ecuadorian culture
To explore Ecuador
To assist the tías and children
To taste local food and drink
Then we agreed on what team characteristics we needed to meet these goals.
At the end of the long day, I reflect back on what I gained from this all day orientation. Was I napping during the important parts because although I know in general what I am supposed to do, I’m still unclear on how it will go? And then it hits me: five complete strangers just spent ten hours together, sharing three meals, volunteering for administrative tasks, coordinating off hour get togethers, accommodating personal preferences. In short, our birthday-challenged leader was guiding us to coalesce as a cohesive team – which is something we will need starting tomorrow.