Over the past weekend we gathered with the majority of our university students for a chance to socialize and offer encouragement. The meeting took place at the Mission School over lunch and was led by our University Program Coordinator, Jenny, and Jim. Eleven of our seventeen university students were able to attend the gathering, traveling from Santa Elena and Guayaquil.
The meeting was a small representation of the support and accompaniment we want to show to our university students. In the past, our University Program was small enough that beneficiaries were required to show a high level of independence and self-determination to advance. The closest university to the mission is located in Santa Elena, one hour away, followed by a few universities in Guayaquil, 3 hours away from the Mission. In Ecuador, there is no university sponsored housing (or dorms), so all students live off campus and travel to school each day for classes. These factors mean that all of our university students must move to a new city and live independently when they begin their studies.
Thankfully, the growth of our university program has made this process much easier. We now have enough scholars in both Santa Elena and Guayaquil that the students in our program can share housing. This provides practical support in terms of orientation to city living, as well as increased safety and socio-emotional wellbeing.
Most importantly, though, having Jenny as our University Program Coordinator has been exceptional. We are so grateful for the mentorship she provides. We have four university students