Heather Kurtz - Ecuador

November 30, 2011

Throughout Fall Training at Stanford, Global Citizen Year asked us what we expected when we got to Ecuador.  Although I do not know what I expected when I got to Ecuador, I never thought I would be a well-known local celebrity.  I figured that I would be just another volunteer coming to change the world. As it turns out, I am so much more than just another volunteer.

Last night, I was at a business party.  There was a group of five of us talking when I was asked “ How long are you here for?” A woman I had never met answered that I would be here for 6 months with Global Citizen Year.  (I was wearing my GCY Shirt).  She proceded in saying that all the GCY fellows are nice and hard working.  That we are willing to learn the culture and are excited to help.  I later learned hat she had just been on a trip with Priyanka, another GCY fellow.

Later, on my bus ride home, I sat with a lady.  We started talking when she asked, “Are you part of the same group as the boy in Muyuna?”. That boy is Mike, another Global Citizen Year Fellow.  “Of course!,” I said.  She told me that she was so glad
we had come to Ecuador.  She felt that we were really helping the communities.  Once I was home, my dad asked about my day, and somewhere in the conversation I asked him about meeting another GCY fellow.  He told me that the girls in the group are all tall.  We joked about having to look up to them.

I have also realized that I have had an impression on people.  Once in a while I hear the students on the bus say, “That’s the gringa from Atacapi.  The one who runs every morning.”  I was amazed that they could recognize me in the dark and, more importantly, that they knew me.  There was another time I was recognized at the office party.  I had a few people come to me and say that I was the gringa who was on TV.  They then told me that it was great I had taken an interest in Napo and was spreading the word.  To be honest, I am not sure what they meant by this.  But it was cool all the same.  People here know who I am.

This has been an enlightening day.  Global Citizen Year is much more than just a bunch of  volunteers.  We are hard workers, runners, and learners.  I was thinking I would just be another face in the crowd.  To think we have only been in our communities a month and this is the effect; imagine in 6 months!  A word of warning to any Global Citizen Year Fellow reading this: you are having more of an effect than you may know.

Heather Kurtz