Who can believe that it has already been eights months since I left my small town in Florida and came to live and volunteer in Ibarra, Ecuador. Only 18 years old and just out of high school, I was entering a whole other world and life than what I was used to. My first month Quito was good, I was only homesick once but I was really liking it there, then came the time to spend a week in our home stays, where we would be living for the next 7 months and visiting our jobs. I remember being really nervous to be meeting my new family, but I figured I would be fine. I remember being so shy when I first met them at the terminal where they were picking us up, because along with my mom, sister and brother, it was also my cousins and aunts, we all hugged said hi and then left. I got to my new house and settled in with my house, after awhile I started just getting sad because I wouldn’t be going to class and seeing everyone I knew the next day, that is when I felt super alone. I just wanted to cry, a lot and I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me and when I had to go to work that week, it wasn’t any better.
When I met my apprenticeship supervisor, I learned her name was the same as my mom’s name, which just reminded me of my homesickness. After about three days of being there, I walked to an internet and video place, called my mom just in tears, I kept asking what was I doing here? Why did I do this? She talked to me and made me feel better, she reminded me that I was here for a reason and that 1) I was given a great opportunity, and 2) that this year was something that I could get through. I felt better after talking to my mom; that night I talked to another Fellow, which also really helped, and I started feeling better. When we went back to Quito and I heard everyone else’s stories, I realized I wasn’t the only one who had a hard time their first week. When the time came to go back to Ibarra, I was actually excited to go back to my family, who I would be living with the next 7 months. I felt comfortable going back and being with my Ibarra family.
One thing I was still frustrated with at the time was my job, it was nothing like I thought it was going to be, so I just wasn’t very interested. Then, after a few months in my apprenticeship, I started liking the job more and learning about what it was that they did, because I was working at a small microfinance office. Yet, by December, I started working at a school once a week, at the beginning of this experience, I thought, me..teaching? Teaching was one job I said I would never do. Who would have thought I would actually love teaching? I was the Physical Ed. and English teacher at the Benjamin Carrion school and through “Buscando Un Amigo,” the microfinance office, I got to help teach afternoon and Saturdays English at a school/high school.
Seven months ago, I would have never pictured myself teaching or helping teaching, by working in the schools and helping the teachers, it gave me a new perspective on teaching. I went from being the shy, quiet American in my house to my crazy, talkative self. Also I went from feeling negative with my apprenticeship to loving all the jobs I ended up doing. If Ecuador taught me anything, it really taught me patience and that things do get better in time.