Rochester to Yunguilla

A partnership in safety, ecotourism, and sustainable community development.

It’s hard to believe that in approximately two weeks I’ll be living out my dream.

I’ll never forget the first time I looked down and realized I was standing in clouds. I was in Yunguilla, a small community nestled into the Andes mountains in Ecuador. I was in the center of the fútbol field after reluctantly playing another game, despite my long history of being terrible at sports.

I had been living a dream: learning new faces, new words, and new skills. I spent my days making cheese, marmalade, planting trees, and exploring. I had made countless new friends and tried more types of potatoes than I ever knew existed. When it was time to go, I knew I’d be back but I hadn’t realized how soon.

In January of 2017, I was enrolled in a Capstone course for the final portion of my degree program. I knew what I wanted to do immediately, and it took little convincing to gain the support of my wonderful adviser. With that, I was free to dream and free to do.

I faced a lot of challenges along the way, but nothing that couldn’t be solved. The two largest concerns were ensuring the sustainability of the project into the future, and ensuring the integrity of the community.

I was gifted with some great connections, generous donors, and a fair bit of good fortune. Throughout the project I had regular check ins with the community, working together to determine the best course of action and the right choices for them. Garnering the funds for the project was a challenge that ended up coming together with a little time, some great connections, and incredible generosity.

Journeys of Solutions is the key to project sustainability for me. Being able to host my project on their site gave me a platform to display and share my goals and to raise both awareness and funding. The greatest surprise was being awarded a grant from JOS, which is what will be used in the future for project maintenance costs and training re-certification.

Myself and three volunteers will be traveling to Ecuador on December 27th to implement the project components. I am excited beyond words and still find it hard to believe I’ll be able to see this dream full circle into an accomplishment. Thank you for your support throughout this journey in every respect. Stay tuned for project photos and updates in January!

Happy Holidays!