Topic Summary

Although I am not able to come to the weekly meetings because of classes, I have done my best to pick a good building material to research more about for the project. I have selected adobe bricks as my material.

My main reasoning for selecting adobe bricks is that they are commonly used in South America (as seen on our trip) and they are fairly inexpensive and easy to work with. These bricks would be sealed with a mud mortar to make a thick wall for the community center. To help with durability, concrete, cement, or asphalt compounds could be added to the adobe. Another initial pro for using adobe bricks are the lack of complex tools needed to make them and build with them. All that is needed are simple tools and a lot of labor (which didn’t seem like an issue in Lumbisi).

Obviously in the coming weeks more research will be done and a decision can be made if this is a useful material to build with or not.

Ecuador Trip Reflection

Words can hardly describe what an amazing 3 weeks I had in South America – the culture is so drastically different from the U.S. and I am thankful to have experienced it with a great team. It is truly ‘eye-opening’ and was a challenge to adapt to a changing foreign environment and language. I am proud of the hard work that our team did in Lumbisi. I do miss the daily juices and spectacular home cooked food at Maria’s during the week. Just looking at the lush green mountains surrounding us was inspiring and I will never forget the beauty of Ecuador. Being able to practice my Spanish skills and having the opportunity to work in construction were both rewarding and enjoyable experiences. To summarize, everyday was an adventure and a truly unique experience for our Global Design team. I hope to make it back to beautiful Ecuador and wish our team the best of luck this semester.



December Trip Reflection

As with most abroad opportunities, I had a blast during our team’s visit to Ecuador. It was great investing in the community, building relationship with members of the community, eating the Ecuadorian cuisine, adoring the beautiful scenery, advancing my Spanish and construction skills, and of course having the chance to move out of my comfort zone pretty much every day.

After reflecting on this trip I have come to a conclusion– the Lumbisí community is beginning to really trust our team. I especially noticed the trust during the Calbildo meeting. In total I have attended two Cabildo meetings and the atmospheres of the two were very different. For instance, in the first meeting I attended there was no smiling from the leaders in the community and from the questions they asked, it was certain that they were suspicious of our motivation for working in Lumbisí. On the other hand, during the more recent meeting the Cabildo greeted the team with smiles and excitement to see and hear our ideas. This is super encouraging because our relationship is developing even more, which is essential with all the work coming up for both the community and our team.  We will have to rely on each other, work together, and trust we are contributing our best to the end goal—the community center. As both our team and the population of Lumbisí work together on the community center, we will create something neither of us could have imagined on our own.

Travel Reflection

As much as I love the USA, I think everyone should have the opportunity to travel abroad early in their lives. To steal Allie’s word, it can truly be an eye-opening experience. There are so many things I take for granted in my life that are not available in many other countries.

There are so many exciting parts to our journey through Ecuador that I can only speak to a few of them here. I believe that one of the most important things we did while in Lumbisi was working with the Minga. The experience showed the community that we did in fact come to work and were willing to jump right in and help them with their projects, not just ours. My Spanish was not good enough to speak with most of them, but those who could took the opportunity to talk with many of the residents. I also enjoyed eating locally in Lumbisi. The home cooked meals were delicious and a great introduction to the local foods. Lastly, I enjoyed the challenge of working with Mateo and the supply store workers to determine a good working mix for the concrete.

It is hard to find parts of the trip that were not enjoyable. Having to load and unload the truck at the start and end of each day was frustrating, so having some form of gangbox would be very useful for future trips that would require the same number of tools.

South America Reflection

I agree with Josh 100% in that this was my busiest winter break yet. We were so fortunate to get 4 weeks off from classes at Purdue! The trip to Ecuador consisted of long hours and plenty of hard work, but it was mostly eye opening. I feel like I use that word often to describe the trip (in fact I probably use it every time)…

It wasn’t so much the mountainous scenery or the cultural differences that was eye opening. I’ve been fortunate enough to see that before. Meeting Maria, Francisco, Jaime, Maggie, the community leaders, all of the Esmeraldas schools’ Presidents – people who dedicate so much time and money to such a powerful cause – was instead eye opening. Whenever you travel, there are always images that you can’t shake from your mind… images that captivate the trip, describe the people, provoke some deep thought. Or, perhaps it’s an exchange that you had on the trip that meant the most. For me, I still remember the silent *wink* I had with little Alixa as I was leaving the classrooms at the second school in Esmeraldas. Alixa, who clung to me like I was

The girls dancing at the school next to the elderly center.

The girls dancing at the school next to the elderly center.

worth being clung to. Alixa, who selflessly offered me water when she had not enough available for the village. I’m still amazed and humbled by that day… thanks for the motivation, Alixa. Let’s see what we can do this semester.

Trip Reflection

As I sit here and think about my winter break, it is hard to remember one in the past in which I did so much and learned so much. Our trip to Ecuador was a great experience that was not only fun and interesting, but also educational. I enjoyed so many things about the trip.

I mostly enjoyed interacting with people. I have had a chance to travel to many countries, but never any in South America. Being able to use Spanish to get around as well as see different sights and help others in the community was a great experience. I also enjoyed boosting my teamwork skills. Although a couple of the days were long and grueling, it felt good to be able to work with others to accomplish our ultimate goal of building the bleachers.

If anything surprised me, it was the food and the fruit juices. The fruit juices were so good they prompted me to want to buy my own juicer and make them at school. All in all, I am thankful I was able to be a part of the experience and learn so much.


Provincia de Esmeraldas – Investigative Trip to Tonsupa/Sula, Ecuador – 17-18 December 2013

NOTE: Written by Allie Sexton.

Writing from the backseat of a van somewhere in the Andes Mountains, I will share our experience on the investigative trip to the province of Esmeraldas. The Esmeraldas team consisted of Brandon Fulk, Caroline Schier, Margaret (Maggie) O’Connor, and Alexandra (Allie) Sexton.


The Esmeraldas team began their day on December 17th with the rest of the Purdue students; interacting with the children and performing smaller tasks at both the child care center and the elderly center. At approximately 3:00 P.M., the Esmeraldas team began their journey to the coast. Maria had arranged private bus transportation for the entirety of the trip. The Esmeraldas team arrived at Maria’s house in Tonsupa at 9:00 P.M. and settled in for the night.


At 6:30 A.M., Maria guided the team down to the ocean (a 3-block walk) to observe the area in the daylight. It was on this walk that Maria shared insight into the Tonsupa community: Large developers from Quito have and still are, building high-rise apartments along the beach; Tonsupa is only heavily occupied during the Holidays when the owners of those apartments come for vacation; Infrastructure for sewage is extremely limited or does not exist; Water is a scarce commodity for the people who regularly live in Tonsupa (this does in fact exclude those living in the apartments.


The team prepared breakfast at Maria’s and set off for the first of 3 schools by 8:30 A.M. The team arrived first to ‘Jimmy’s school’ – Jimmy was the name of the ‘principal’ – located a short drive from Maria’s house in the city. The school had approximately 6 permanent classrooms and 2 temporary classrooms THAT TOGETHER TAUGHT 350+ STUDENTS. Jimmy immediately greeted us with a warm smile and showed us to his office. He began by expressing his gratitude for our visit and then told us of the water shortage in his school. There are two on-site holding tanks that get filled by the City APPROXIMATELY EVERY TWO WEEKS. One tank is an above-ground plastic holding tank and the other is concrete and partially submerged underneath the ground. Both tanks were visually estimated to hold 200-300 gallons. Jimmy explained that the water in the tanks is used for the sinks and for drinking water, and usually runs dry every 2 weeks. The City trucks in water for $50/load. Jimmy also mentioned that they are hoping to raise the wall that blocks out the school from the street. We bid our goodbyes shortly after 10:00 A.M.


The next stop was at a school further outside of the city. This was the original school that Maria wanted the team to visit (the other 2 schools were a last minute decision). We picked up the Presidente of Tonsupa on the way to the school, on the side of the road! He looked like a normal citizen, with a cowboy-looking hat and some missing teeth J. The school was built right next to a village and we visited both. The school consisted of 10+ classrooms and a concrete basketball court. There were concrete ‘bleachers’ for onlookers to watch games. We were greeted by SO MANY CHILDREN! Some of the classrooms were empty because teachers did not show up – when this happens, the students are forced to go home. Some of the locals guided us to the village homes, where we were told of their individual needs. It was very moving to see. One woman in particular lived in a home that was put up on ‘stilts’. Her grandchild was disabled and recently passed away. She asked for help making her kitchen more usable. This school also suffers from water shortages. A well was driven 9 metres below ground, but it’s dry. There are also bathrooms that a couple from Boston built a few years ago, but because there is no water, they are not very usable. A holding tank exists, held up on wooden ‘stilts’ but it is located close to the road and is frequently stolen from, we were told. The school also gets the tanks refilled by the City, but it doesn’t happen nearly as often as it should to keep water at the ready. The school officials would also like to see a fence be built – there is a spot near the water holding tank that is lacking the fencing and the kids run out into the road. We played with the children a lot. They stuck to us like glue! One of them offered me (Allie) some water, and it broke my heart. I have access to all the water I could ever want, yet these children were so selfless to give me some of theirs. Maria bought candy packets for all of the children, and the team was fortunate enough to get to hand them out to the children, along with suckers. We also handed out the t-shirts we brought.


Next our driver (Omar) drove us all to Sua, where we visited our third school. Jose, the CEM alum at Purdue, is developing an entire ‘peninsula’ in Sua. He is also doing work at this school, so he suggested we go and visit to examine their needs. The school officials were grateful for us, and again, they suffered from water shortages. The school officials then took us to an abandoned building across the road and to the right. The building was abandoned about a year ago. It was a preschool. The site is extremely overgrown, it was a sad site to see.


We then ate lunch at a restaurant that Jose recommended we visit. It was delicious – we had a lot of fruit juices and the ceviche was amazing. Then we visited the site that Jose was developing. It had a beautiful view of the city. Then we went back to Maria’s to collect our gear and began the long drive back through the Andes to Cumbaya.