MANUELA JARAMILLO SAMPER
I was born in Quito, Ecuador in 2002. I am the eldest of four children. My parents have always treasured nature, and encouraged me to become a part of it ever since I was young. Being the older sister has impulsed me to be outgoing and caring, and also inspired me to aspire to become a teacher when I grow up. I love to read and write, and wherever I go I take my favorite book "La elegancia del erizo", which I believe has shaped who I am. Traveling around Ecuador since I was a little girl, I learned to appreciate Ecuadorian culture and its people. From the beach to the mountains, I treasure my homeland immensely and I believe it is an essential part of who I am.
The curiosity that being a born in Ecuador has given me ultimately shaped my eagerness to know the world and travel. Social relationships have taught me that there is more to people than what meets the eye. Through these simple interactions in my Ecuadorean community I have obtained special eagerness to travel the world. Just in Ecuador you can find the most diverse wildlife, as well as contrasting economic situations. I am fascinated by my country’s landscapes and traditions. Even though Ecuador is rich in diversity and kind-hearted people, there is a vast amount of underdevelopment. Riding the bus home everyday from school I see kids working in the streets, and mothers begging for food to provide for their children. Being exposed to this contrasting reality has prepared me to be generous and conscious of those around me.
In Latino communities the will to help and solidarity is not taught in school, it is taught on the streets. Growing up in Quito showed me how hard life can be, and how much you can learn from people living a different reality. Therefore, I am very enthusiastic about community service. Ever since I was young, I participated in different summer activities to help those in need. At first, I would collect stuffed animals for children undergoing chemotherapy, and later on I began to work independently in summer camps, collecting donations, and even in trips to Tabuchila, a small community that was severely affected by the 2017 earthquake. As I grew older I noticed that those in need taught me more than I could ever try to teach them. I learned about love, compassion, and resilience. Last summer I visited the Bali Health Institute in Indonesia, where I volunteered for a month.