I have officially been in Ecuador for two weeks! I already feel adjusted to Quito, and have successfully gotten on the correct bus every day this week, a much harder feat to accomplish than you would think. Ser Joven, is the young single girls shelter where I am working. Ser Joven has eight girls living at the shelter, six of them have one of more babies, and the other two girls are there for a stable and safe living situation. There are two pyschologists that come and go, a nurse is always available, and another woman comes and teaches the girls skills such as sewing or making jewelry. Girls from the community also visit for medical services or skill building. My part at Ser Joven this past week was to spend my time with the girls and observe how the center works. On my first day, I walked into a welcoming room of girls who eagerly asked me questions and we quickly became acquainted with each other. Not long after that, one of the girls turned on the radio and thus began: teach Lindsay how to dance the Merengue, Salsa, Cumbia, and any other type of music was playing. Most of the girls participated in my dancing lesson and would give lovely pointers; such as, I needed to move my calderas (hips) more. Their eagerness to allow me into their lives has been the best part of Ser Joven so far. I also get to hold their sweet, little babies! It turns out that speaking one on one with my Spanish teacher who enunciates and speaks clearly, is not equivalent to eight girls chattering away, as their babies cry, laugh, yell, or coo. Being able to participate in conversations with the group has been really difficult, it has been much easier to sit down with one or a few of the girls and learn more about them. I can already tell a difference in how much I understand of conversations from just one week, and really hope my speaking will be better with time.
In every single social work course I have taken, I have learned that developing rapport with my client is essential, in order to best serve the client. Although I did not do much more than hang out with the girls for an entire week, I have begun to understand part of the girls’ stories, and see the difficulties they deal with every day. I am very eager to have a more active part in Ser Joven, but am so thankful for the beginning trust that is developing between the girls and I.