This summer, we will feature guest posts from students who received a Dingman Center scholarship to participate in the Maryland Social Entrepreneur Corps (MSEC). They will share their experiences learning about social entrepreneurship while consulting with local businesses in Latin America. Learn more about MSEC here.
by: Chris Wolfe
While Cuenca was little different than a typical city in America, Ñamarin began to show us what it was like to live without the luxuries we enjoy in the States on a daily basis. There was little wifi or cell service, a lack of hot water, and a lack of temperature control within buildings. I did not see any of these things as great hardships because I was still able to live fairly comfortably. Little did I know what I was about to face in our last village: Pulingui.
Let me begin by clarifying that nothing I say is an attempt to speak poorly about Pulingui. Rather, I have great respect for the amazing people who lived there. It was clear immediately that Pulingui would not be as luxurious as Cuenca and Ñamarin. The people of Pulingui live off the land, growing or raising almost everything that they eat. They live very simply, managing their crops and animals and living in small houses connected by dirt roads. I spent my two weeks without heating, taking bucket showers in the very cold climate of the Chimborazo region. I did not get to experience many luxuries, but seeing how happy the people of Pulingui were with their lives made me see how easy it is to appreciate the things that I have in my life. For example, I got to play soccer with some of the kids who lived in the village. We played on a dirt patch with a deflated basketball and crooked metal posts for goals. Despite the lack of a proper field, we were still able to have a lot of fun playing a game that we all love. I honestly think it made me appreciate the game of soccer even more than I usually do.
When I came home to the States, I began to think a lot more about how lucky I truly am, and I believe that my time in Pulingui allowed me to do this. Though I do not wish to take bucket showers again any time soon, I’m glad that I was able to in order to understand how much we should appreciate what we have. If there is any way to spread this feeling to others back in the States, I will be sure to do so. If more people can live with the pure joy held by the people of Pulingui, I feel that our society in the States will improve drastically.
Chris Wolfe is a rising sophomore in the Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. He is currently studying finance, law and society, Spanish, and entrepreneurship. In addition, he is a member of the club soccer team at Maryland and the Smith Undergraduate Student Association. He hopes to attend law school after graduation.