Baby Soy

Yui Lee - Ecuador


October 28, 2014

When I came to Guano, Ecuador a month ago and met my Ecuadorian family for the first time, I was overjoyed to see a baby in my host mother’s arms; the newborn looked so happy, adorable, and chubby. I learned that her name was Soy, she was six months old, and today, she is as cute as one could imagine with her crying for about 70% of each day.

Yeah, not very cute.

Of course, my parents and my best friend back home in the U.S. know by now that I have grown very tired of hearing this tiny human baby being a nightmare and not ever stopping to get attention, except for when she’s asleep (and when I say asleep, I mean really asleep. Not just one of those naps that may or may not last for more than 30 minutes.) However, despite my love for babies that was disintegrating rather quickly, something hit me on the head. Inspiration.

After figuratively getting struck by this stone, I started to compare myself to Soy. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that she and I have three major things in common. We are both new to the world of Ecuadorian culture; we are the most dependent in our families and cultures; and last but not least, we are both the center of attention everywhere we go. Pretty much the only differences are the heights and the number of teeth, but that’s not really important here.

The three points interconnect with one another, but to elaborate, both of us niñas are looking at new faces and places and becoming adoptive to the familiar ones. Neither one of us know our neighbors from the top of our heads or how to easily get to the nearest supermarket by ourselves, but we are learning to get around. We are learning to discover from our explorations and to ask for help from everyone around us. When something goes well, we smile or laugh and store the successes in our minds, which is how our brains are working in this brand new environment (although mine is faster since you would take into account that she is six months while I am 18 years old).

My next point of similarity for us foreigners is when the baby and I search for people to assist us when we need help before we experience the success. Soy’s range of knowing who to call for is very limited, but luckily for me, I have learned to ask anyone; however, we both still need our surroundings to help guide us to safety. Soy and I are also similar in how we look for ways to receive attention and care in order to avoid the feeling of being alone and scared. Within the Ecuadorian culture, we need help getting told how to do something at first. Soy learned to eat rice, and I learned to get to work by myself . We must depend on others to guide us, even if it means taking time out of their hands and ours. This is how we become the centers of attention, the centers of stares. We may have different approaches to getting that attention, but the idea is the same. Since we aren’t capable of comprehending the rules of the world by ourselves, we draw attention to ourselves with our curiosity, though at times, unintentionally. For me, because I can’t speak Spanish well, my questioning and also the representation of Asian descent make me stick out like a sore thumb. The whispers and giggling from the residents remind me that it’s difficult to for outsiders fit in with the crowd. On the other hand, for Soy, well, she’s a baby.  All she needs to do is cry to get attention and stop when content. Nada más.

The similarities between us pinpoints the observations made by being an alien in an unfamiliar environment. I have also realized that I am like Soy’s two front teeth. Right now, her and I are by ourselves, small and timid; however, with time, her teeth will be fully grown and strong enough to chomp on the important things to keep her alive. The adult teeth will eventually replace the timid teeth, and I believe that is when we have transitioned from being helpless to invulnerable. It will take a lot of time, patience, and a whole lot of teething with the outside world before our successes stay with our feelings of happiness and confidence, but I know that we will get there with one step at a time.

Yui Lee