“Once you go Ecua- there is no going back.” This is a common joke between the fellows in the Ecuador Northern Cohort. Now, you are probably wondering, “What the heck is an Ecua-?” Well, Ecua- is just a prefix of sorts we, the Northern Cohort and all of Ecuador, put in front of everything. We’re out here living our Ecua–lives, eating our Ecua-food, riding our Ecua-buses, and most importantly, throwing our Ecua-fiestas (my motto in high school was party hard and study harder 😉) Even our cohort group chat is called EcuaNorth! Really, there is so much we could go into with this list of all things Ecua-, but I want to focus on Ecua-fiestas.
It is a well-known fact that Ecuadorians like to celebrate. In the past month, I have been to three concerts, three festivals, two parties, and a parade. Your baby cow just took its first steps? Well of course we are throwing a FIESTA! But I truly saw the Ecua-fiesta culture play out on my birthday.
I turned 19 years old on September 24th but had mixed emotions. One was happiness because it was my birthday and I was going to celebrate all day. The other was sadness because my family was so far away from me, and I had never experienced my birthday away from them before. However, my GCY family made sure my day was special. After Spanish class, they threw me a mini celebration with ice cream and pastries. However, it did not end there. I went home, and my host family threw me another celebration with cake. Then my Team Leader, Marilyn, visited my home and brought me another cake. The next day, Fundación Arupo (my apprenticeship) threw me a surprise party with (you guessed it) more cake! I also threw an Ecua-fiesta the following Sunday so the entire Northern Cohort could be there. But as much as I enjoy cake, there was none at that fiesta (lol).
After thinking about it, I realized I had never celebrated my birthday so much or had so much cake! Ecuadorians are truly some of the nicest people. For them to care so much about a person they known for only two weeks, touched my heart. I had to write a blog post about it! After singing five rounds of “Happy Birthdays!”, all I can say is thank you for the wishes. Best. Birthday. Ever.
As always, thank you to everyone who has helped me embark on my Ecua-life including: Lowcountry Barbershop, South Carolina Association of Student Councils (SCASC), The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina, my teachers, and my parents. Without your support, I could never have begun experiencing everything Ecuador and it means everything. So, with all my love and gratitude, thank you.
Living my best Ecua-life,