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Toluwani Roberts - Ecuador


May 31, 2018

What follows is an informal response to my two favorite questions, “How was your Capstone?” and “How was Ecuador?”

A few weeks ago, I revisited my high school to give an overview about my year in Ecuador. It was the easiest way to tell my gap year story because the goal was clear: convince high school students to take a gap year. I learned about GCY through a Capstone Presentation from Ally Douma, so I felt obligated to do the same. After that presentation, I have said relatively little about my life and year in Ecuador. Nothing more than the occasional comment:

“Damn, I miss Ecuador prices”

When I go out to eat with my friends and look at the menu, Ecuadorian almuerzo prices and options float back into the memory sacs of my brain and stomach. Ecuador was kind to my wallet and to my mind. In the restaurants I went to, there were fewer options to choose from.

Or

“Damn, I miss speaking Spanish”

When I walk into a store, or onto a bus, and open my mouth to greet the person in front, “Buenos dias” or “Buenas tardes/noches” still tickle my throat. But my ears and eyes are surrounded by English.

Why is that all I say about my year?

My friend’s dad asked me the same question.

I told him what you’ve probably heard before. That people don’t really care, or want a simple answer, so I tell them “good”, and keep walking. He called that settling.

He’s right. Ecuador was more than “good”.

The thing is, when I get the question “How was Ecuador?” from my friends, I’m hesitant to answer because not only is it hella broad, but what I hear behind it is “How are you? Who are you now?” And I don’t need to talk about Ecuador to answer those questions. My friends will see those changes the more time they spend with me. And Ecuador will continue to weave its way into my conversations, language, observations, and worldview. And the other people asking? I see it as a polite move. ("Thanks for asking but I'm not gonna answer that question right now").

There’s no cap on my capstone quite yet.

However, your girl is more than willing to talk about what it was like being a queer woman of color abroad so if you identify as queer or as woman or of color, read my former blogs or hit me up on facebook. Or even check out this dope blog connecting travellers of color.

Chao.


Toluwani Roberts