This is a letter in response to what I wrote myself during the Stanford week right before starting this interesting journey.
Dear Shukura (August 2017),
I know you hoped that I would be completely fluent in Spanish but I am not. I really have improved and I am getting closer everyday and try my hardest to continue to practice with my host family and local individuals around me.
Through this experience I know you wanted me to completely immerse in the Ecuadorian culture, however, due to a rough first few months it has been hard for me to completely indulge myself. Nevertheless, I learnt something important that you can create a connection with a culture through dance, music, or any art form. I have learnt about the difference between integration and assimilation and through this understanding I have been able to find a way to open myself even with a bit of a guarded heart.
I did keep in contact with Isabel it is hard with the long distance but I have. I know I have a habit of pushing people away and believe me I have become more open with people and more forthcoming. Therefore, hopefully I have given off a more genuine vibe, I have learnt to truly forgive to better myself as a person and feel like I have matured so much over the past few months that might take people years to achieve.
Sadly didn’t have an “ecua-fling” but I have developed such deep love for myself that I never thought I ever truly deserved. I finally became secure of myself for the first time ever in my life.
I have learnt that freedom is a privilege and it isn’t something that can be earnt it is based by the people around me. Through this programme I have learnt how I have been blessed with the freedom that my mother has given me but I would of never realised that if the programme didn’t strip that away from me.
I have learnt that you have to just go with the flow. I always have had a schedule when on holidays with my family and living on the completely opposite was hard to adjust to, but I am glad because now I have an equal balance.
I have always been an impatient person so being in a country where everything is very slow paced really did test me at first but now I am surprised at the levels of patience that I have consumed.
I am so happy with the growth I have made over the past few months and as a letter to my future self I hope to see you continuously grow after this programme.
Keep it real,
Shukura (Feb 2018)