Kristin Katchmar - June 2018

I have just returned to the United States from Ecuador. All my data collection is officially wrapped up so I am now entering the data processing stage of my project. Before I get into what that will look like. I wanted to give you all a short summary of what my time in Yunguilla, Ecuador was like.

I was in Yunguilla for three action-packed, cloud-filled weeks. During these weeks I lived with one of the local families and two other girls from my internship group. My host family was a family of five with three children ages 12-19. It took a few days to settle in, but I ended up growing very close to my host family especially my host mom, Maria. We spent a lot of time in the kitchen together! As an internship group, we spent most of our days working on different community projects in the morning and then we had class or time to work on our individual projects in the afternoon. During these morning work times we learned to make cheese, marmalade and artisan crafts. We also worked in the community garden and reforested steep hillsides just outside of town. Every day was packed full of activities rain or shine and it rained an impressive amount in Yunguilla. The locals of Yunguilla are very busy people. In many of the households, including mine, either the husband or wife has a full-time job in Quito. The other spouse usually has a job in Yunguilla and the whole family helps to take care of family gardens and livestock. Everyone here works hard to provide for themselves and their community.

Data collection went slower than I expected, between the schedule for my other internship activities and the work schedules of community members it took more time than I was expecting to arrange and accomplish the interviews. I ended up shortening my Socio-Ecological Sustainability interview so that I would be able to collect more relevant and useful information for the community. I was also able to learn a lot from working and interacting with community members on a daily basis. There is a core group of people in Yunguilla that are dedicated to improving the community, sustaining the surrounding ecosystems, and growing their ecotourism business. Their community, especially the older community members, benefit the most from the income brought in by students and internship groups that stay in the community.

The information I collected from the household Dietary Diversity interviews was very exciting. The households exhibited healthy and well-balanced diets. Myself and two of my internship peers worked together to create an information pamphlet that included daily nutrient recommendations and nutrition information on several of their most common food resources. This pamphlet is meant to be an informational and teaching resource that will assist in their goal to maintain a healthy diet in the community. It was such an incredible experience to live in Yunguilla and learn about their community. As I move into data processing my goal is to isolate and compile information that will be useful to the community and the organization. I would like to be able to identify some of the indicators of sustainable success as defined by community members and some of the areas in which community members would like to see improvement or changes. I would also like to provide a more detailed analysis of the nutritional health of the Yunguilla diet that they could potentially use in the future as a baseline or background information for other researchers.

My main concern as I go into the data processing section of my project is having enough data collected. I am concerned with this because it is nearly impossible for me to go back and collect more data if I realize I do want more information. I feel like I have enough data to work with, but I know there is a small part of me that is going to feel like to need more. After a month out of the United States it’s going to take a little while for me to adjust to my regular life again. I will be working on my project and hopefully finding some free time to get into the mountains and escape the heat occasionally.

Ciao!

Kristin

Image 1: Internship group at the Mirador El Chochal, a viewpoint just outside of Yunguilla

Image 2: Ecuador holds the world record for most hummingbird species at over 132 species! Pictured here is a Collared Inca

Image 3: The Yunguilla community garden

Image 4: A scenic view of some of the hillsides around the area we were reforesting

Image 5: A look at reforestation in progress in the hills around Yunguilla

Image 6: The Yunguilla welcome signs on one of the rare sunny mornings

Image 7: A small waterfall that crosses the Culunco Guantopungo trail. This trail was used by ancient tribes, the Incas, and the Mayas to transport goods from the coast to the Andes and back

Image 8: View from the Welcome sign looking over to the Yunguilla community

Image 9: A new baby cow grazing along the road in Yunguilla

Image 10: Our internship group with the children of the local school

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