Heather Kurtz - Ecuador

October 3, 2011

One of the hardest things I have learned my first few weeks in Ecuador is to adapt. I never knew how valuable a quality that is. To be able to see something and to not react but instead to realize it is different and change yourself so that things work for the better. My week in Quito has been tough. There is Spanish everywhere, can you believe people speak Spanish in Ecuador! Last Sunday we met our host families here in Quito. It was my dad’s cumpleanos (birthday) and we had a party with the whole family.

I live with my mom and dad, one of my sisters and my aunt with her two sons. It is new to me that my family is out late at night and that I almost never see my sister. We do not often eat meals together and they talk very little even to each other much less to me. My cousin and aunt however talked to me a lot. We really got to know each other very well this first week. We exchanged stories about our families and talked about school and what happened during the day. I was so excited to be spending the weekend with my family. Saturday morning comes and only my mom is at home.

I eat my breakfast thinking maybe they are coming back to do something. Well, I find out we are not doing anything until 7:00 at night. I was then home alone. This is new to me in the US my family spends a lot of time together on weekends. I decided to go to an optional Spanish class that day. When I got home again we went to the party.I thought Sunday would be better and we would spend time seeing Quito like the other fellows. Turns out that Sunday my aunt and cousin went home to the coast and my other cousin went to live in a dorm on campus. We dropped my aunt at the bus station by 10:00. Then my cousin asked me to help him pack while my parents took my niece home. We had a great time talking both learning the others language. Unfortunately at 4:00 he left. I was devastated. Who was I to talk to? What was I supposes to do? I cried for a long time thinking how horrible my situation is and how much my cousin will miss his family because I am missing mine so much.

I was crying to all of us. My mom started to talk to me that night. She saw I was upset and talked to me saying that maybe we could visit my cousin and we even ate dinner together. It was so nice. The next day Andy (my program leader) offered to change my family. I did not know what to do. I like this family but I really would like a family that talks more and with my cousin gone who is going to talk to me? I took forever deciding. I talked to everyone and they all said I should change. They said I wasn’t happy and should be. Well I thought and said this family is not bad just different, I need to adapt to make this work. If I don’t change now will I ever change when I really have to? I am staying with this family because they are nice people and I can learn a lot.

Now my family and I eat breakfast together and talk more. I am also spending more time with the other fellows. I am learning the city and things I can do in my spear time instead of staying home alone. Although this is total new to me it is a great learning experience and I cannot wait to look back and see how much I have grown. Adaptation is a key to life one cannot always change the situation but one can always change the way they view a situation and their reaction to it.

Heather Kurtz