Quito is a city of two million people, with an extremely large, complicated public transportation system. I have been using this transportation almost every day to get to Spanish classes, Global Citizen Year events, and other places. However, after only three weeks, I barely know which bus to take.
Thursday night I went to a concert with some of my new friends, and I chose to leave my backpack at my host grandparents’ house instead of taking it and risking theft. The concert was amazing; I had a fantastic time rocking out to Spanish music. When I left the concert, it was very late, and I couldn’t go back to my grandparents’ to retrieve my backpack. So I went home (by taxi) without my backpack and my toothbrush inside. The next morning, I had to go back to my grandparents’ house. I only had a dollar because my wallet was in my backpack, so a taxi was out of the question. My host dad told me the name of the bus I had to take, Ecovia, and I went to the bus stop by my house and took it. I was even more self conscious than usual because I had bad breath. When the bus pulled into the trolley terminal instead of near my grandparents’ house, I was confused, but I didn’t want to ask the woman next to me for fear of knocking her unconscious with my breath. I exited the bus with everyone else and proceeded to wander around with a confused gringa look. Thankfully, a sweet old lady saw that I was in need of direction, and she asked me where I needed to go then told me which trolley to take and how many stops until the stop closest to my cross streets. I got to my grandparents’ house, immediately brushed my teeth, and made it to Spanish class on time.
I told this story at the sending-off fiesta Global Citizen Year held at a salsateca as my “inspirational speech.” The moral of my story is that we shouldn’t let our insecurities hold us back this year. To not let our bad breath stop us from asking for directions. To not let our broken Spanish stop us from making friends. To not let being a “gringo” stop us from becoming a part of our community. To not let our differences, our insecurities, or our hesitations stop us from going out and making the most out of every moment this year. We are Global Citizen Year Fellows; we have already taken the giant leap to come to a foreign county, and every day is another step further in this journey of a lifetime.