I’ve been home from Ecuador for about a month and a half now. Being home, I’ve realized how much it’s changed my life. Before living in Ecuador, I had lived in the same place all my life. Now, I have this experience living in another world. I find myself constantly thinking about the differences between Ecuador and the United States. One thing I’ve discovered after coming home is how deeply and strongly I feel connected to Ecuador. I think I’ve left a part of myself there, which is something I’ve never experienced before with a place.
The day I arrived home in Madison after Re-Entry Training, Ecuador was hit by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake. Because of this tragedy, Ecuadorians and people with Ecuadorian connections began organizing and collaborating in Madison to start relief efforts. Through these relief efforts in Madison, I met a community of Ecuadorians here who have made my transition back home much smoother than it would have been without them. Just like the people I met in Ecuador, these Ecuadorians in Madison have welcomed me into their community with open arms and hearts. I feel incredibly grateful to them for the kindness and friendliness they have treated me with.
In the weeks leading up to my departure from Ecuador, so many people there asked me “and when are you coming back?”, and I always responded with a quite vague answer because I didn’t know when I would be able to return. I also didn’t realize how much I would long to return after coming home. Now, being back home, I’ve realized how important I feel it is to keep strong ties to Ecuador and my family there. I really miss it. I’ve recently figured out that I’ll be able to go back for two weeks in August, and I could not be happier. Hasta pronto, Ecuador. Te quiero.