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Addressing poverty in Ecuador

Amina Temkin, right, teaches students in rural Ecuador as part of her co-op. Courtesy photo.

Amina Temkin witnessed poverty on a Dialogue of Civilizations program to Kenya last year, but on co-op in Ecuador, she’s experiencing a much more personal account of what it means to be poor.

“What I saw in Kenya wasn’t like this,” said Temkin, a fourth-year communication studies major at Northeastern. “You didn’t get a chance to talk to people, ask them what they need and become their friends.”

Temkin currently works for Entre Las Estrellas, or “Among the Stars,” a nonprofit organization staffed by volunteers who serve underprivileged children and their families in Paragachi, Ecuador.

In her role, Temkin helps students at a village school create a community newspaper and design arts and crafts projects. She also conducts field research and runs open forums to identify community needs.

“This organization really focuses on asking what the community needs to succeed and improve,” Temkin said. “It’s not run by Americans who say, ‘We know what will make your community better.’”

Her close relationship with community members has an added benefit: “My Spanish is definitely getting better,” Temkin said.

The international experiential-learning opportunity has given her the chance to work directly with the people she seeks to help.

“I knew I wanted to do something less traditional,” said Temkin, in reference to her first co-op with a Massachusetts nonprofit dedicated to promoting women’s reproductive rights around the globe. “In this role, I’m getting a chance to know and help people in the community.”