From September 2014 to January 2015, Performing Arts Abroad is hosting a family of four in the Galapagos Islands for a music volunteer program. This family is no newcomer to the idea…they have played together for years as “Kentucky T. Dutchersmith and the Rubber Band” and lived abroad in Mexico for a six-week service learning project several years ago. The father, Kent, is a music teacher in the school system of Goshen, Indiana. On PAA’s program, the Dutchersmith family plans to work with land tortoises and conservation work some mornings, and volunteer with music activities in the afternoons. Enjoy this special series as we follow this family’s musical adventure in the Galapagos!
After one week of living with our wonderful host family, I had to ask the grandmother, “so, just who lives in our house?” The concept of both space and family in our Ecuadoran family is more fluid than what we’re used to. The grandparents have resided in their house for about 25 years. Over the years, they added on to their home as they had time and money, which is typical here. Our family of four lives on the main floor, right off the dining room. On the first floor is a living room, a kitchen, a dining room and three bedrooms. We are occupying two. The other people live in other rooms connected to, but not necessarily with access to, the central part of the house. We have not been given a “tour” of the rest of the house because we don’t really have a need to be in the other bedrooms/living spaces. Spaces and rooms are added as needed. There are a few other rooms on the main level (from what I can tell), plus two more stories above.
At every meal, people come and go at different times. There are two tables in the dining room: a large main one that can seat 6-8, and a smaller one for 2-4 people. In our two weeks here, there has been virtually a different combination of people for every meal, some of whom live here and some of whom don’t. In the two weeks we have been here, there have probably been a total of 12 extra family members (not living in the house) who have eaten here at least once.
So, who lives at our house? The grandparents (in their late 50s), their son, their daughter and her husband (in their 30s) and daughter (10), their teenage nephew, another nephew who works on a fishing boat half the week, and the cook/housekeeper. Including us, that makes twelve. It doesn’t feel like twelve people living here because not everyone eats every meal here and people eat in shifts. It seems a lot of them hang out in their own rooms, some of which have televisions. Without many people around, they have said, it feels boring and not quite right.
We’re honored to feel at home with our Ecuadoran family.
Written by Kent Dutchersmith
Father of the Dutchersmith family, music volunteers in the Galapagos Islands