Student Life

A Heart for Culture: An Alumna’s Service in Ecuador and Beyond

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MISHAWAKA – Annie Erdel ‘16, a Sociology and TESOL double major, is using both degrees in unexpected ways after returning from a recent trip to Ecuador. She is working as an English Language teacher and bilingual aid and as publicist for The Trafficking Dispatch (TTD), an independent podcast focused on raising awareness, education and advocacy for human trafficking. Erdel lived in Ecuador from January to June 2018, working as Early Childcare and Development Coordinator at Casa Adalia. Located in Quito, Ecuador, Casa Adalia is part of the End Slavery Ministries Ecuador (ESME). It serves as a home for four to five women who have escaped high-risk situations.  

Supporting the moms meant making sure they were spending time with their kids, going to doctor appointments, and even taking care of their kids while they were working or going to school,” says Erdel, whose role was to provide support for the women.   

Erdel’s involvement with TTDbegan with her younger sister, Victoria. In May of 2017, Victoria began working in Asia with Starfish Project, an organization dedicated to helping sex trafficked women “experience freedom, establish independence, and develop careers” (according to their website). Her work in Asia inspired her to begin planning the podcast in the summer of 2017. It officially debuted on Aug.20, 2017 at 5 p.m.    TTD is run by college students across the United States and reaches listeners in over 56 countries throughout the world. Each podcast episode focuses on different areas of human trafficking. Victoria even brings in survivors of sex trafficking to share their story and further educate their audience on the problem of human trafficking. As publicist, Erdel manages TTD’s social media accounts and works to further promote the podcast.   Erdel’s other job is working at Madison Steam Academy as a second and fifth grade EL teacher and a bilingual aid for students learning English.   Throughout her travels to Ecuador, and coming back to work in the states, Erdel has seen how her degrees have empowered her to work with people from different backgrounds.     “Both have helped me gain practical knowledge for working with people of other cultures and languages. Even though I wasn’t expecting to use my degrees like this, I use them in what I do every day,” Erdel said.    Looking to the future, Erdel plans on continuing to help her sister promote TTDas it grow and reachs more people around the world. Even though she is not in Ecuador right now, Annie continues to help Casa Adalia by advertising jewelry the mothers make through social media platforms. Erdel plans on beginning Bethel’s Transition-to-Teaching program in October. She is excited to teach and work with kids and hopes to go back to Ecuador soon.
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