Rosemary Takacs spent 4 weeks on Performing Arts Abroad’s Music Internship in Ecuador, where she worked with the arts foundation Sinamune offering music and dance therapy to people with disabilities.
I had a wonderful time during my four-week Performing Arts Abroad experience in Quito, Ecuador. This was my first time traveling abroad by myself, but I was graciously welcomed at the airport with other students from the U.S. The orientation weekend helped me ease into adjusting to the new culture, and I was able to see some sites near and around Quito, like the middle of the world, old town Quito, a volcanic crater lake, and an indigenous market.
I loved living with a host family. They were incredibly welcoming and exceeded my expectations with the accommodations they provided me, such as meals, laundry, and living space. They included me in family outings, like lunches, birthday parties, and going to the theater. I really liked having a home to go back to every day.
Working at Sinamune was an eye opening experience. Each morning, I played clarinet with the advanced orchestra. About three days a week, we would have performances for American tourists during this time. After orchestra rehearsals and performances, I conducted three small-group music therapy sessions. I had groups of four students at a time, all at various cognitive functioning levels. I had a lot of freedom of what music therapy interventions I did with the students. The sessions were conducted entirely in Spanish, and the students were very patient when I needed to take a moment to think about how to communicate. I also liked working with the other international volunteers from France and Germany. Since we did not speak each others’ native languages, talking to them was another way for me to practice my Spanish. I made connections with many of the students at Sinamune, and conducting music therapy sessions in Spanish helped increase my confidence in my clinical skills and my Spanish.
I found having private Spanish lessons incredibly beneficial. My teacher was able to meet me at the level I was at, and I was able to have conversations with her outside of what I was learning in my lesson that helped me learn new vocabulary and practice the grammar I was using in lessons. I loved how Spanish lessons were provided for my entire stay in Quito. I looked forward to going to my Spanish lessons everyday, and I was also able to explore a different part of the city.
I would recommend this program to any music student who is looking for an international experience in a Spanish speaking country. Ecuador has much to see even outside of Quito, and it is easy to travel around the country to see what else is has to offer, even if only for a quick weekend getaway. Through this program, I had a lot of independence but I also had a wonderful host family and on site director I felt comfortable going to if I needed anything. Performing Arts Abroad’s music internship in Quito is definitely a highlight of my summer, international travel, and music therapy experience!