A New Year, A New School…Academia Cotopaxi in Quito, Ecuador

It was an amazing summer, filled with a whirlwind finish as my youngest sister got married (the wedding was two days before our departure to Ecuador).  However, it seems like ages ago.  We’ve been here for just over three weeks now but we’ve jumped right into the mix and summer is a distant memory already.

After a little more than two weeks at Academia Cotopaxi I couldn’t feel more welcome!!  I’m tempted to say “I couldn’t feel more at home” but I realize that the ‘home’ feeling takes time, so for now I’ll stick with feeling welcome.  Making a transition to a new school/company is always difficult but add in the extra stress of moving to a new country and the level of difficulty is multiplied exponentially.

Thankfully we’ve hit the ground running here at AC.  Quito is high up in the Andes mountains (more than 9000 ft.) but the obvious lack of oxygen hasn’t prevented anyone from being extremely positive.  During our time with the returning teachers we were consistently invited to join any number of events and activities, all of which showed us a piece of Quito, gave us new experiences and introduced us to new people.  Being welcomed into a new community with such gusto is more than anyone could ask for as they make such a huge transition like moving from China to Ecuador.  

The students here at AC, as everywhere I’ve been, are amazing.  They’ve encouraged me as I’ve stumbled through learning over 300 names in just one week (I even received a standing ovation from one student when I finally got his name correct after about 20 mistakes…they’ve had such patience with me!)  The returning students here have welcomed new students so warmly that I have at times mistaken new students for returners because of the sheer number of friends surrounding them at lunch and break.  It is a truly welcoming group of students, astounding really!

All of this, however, pales in comparison to the interactions I have witnessed over the last week as everyone has welcomed new special needs students into the community.  As an inclusive school we are working to make AC as diverse a learning community as possible.  The staff, students, and overall community couldn’t be a more welcoming and inclusive group…awesome!!  I couldn’t be more excited for the years ahead working with this amazing selection of educators and students.

As the school year unfolds I will continue to write about the professional experiences at AC as well as share other important learnings.  There is always a lot to learn but being new makes it even easier to find opportunities to grow and improve 🙂

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