Adapting to a new culture and country was more than difficult when I first lived in Ecuador, but contrary to popular belief going back home was even harder. In my town in Chordeleg, I felt like I held an important role in my community. I was an assistant English teacher and I also worked in the City Hall. During my time there I was always getting out of my comfort zone and I was making a difference. Coming back home I feel as though I have fallen back into a bland and almost stagnant comfort zone. It has not been easy trying to explain my experience in Ecuador to others who ask, and I feel as though my words do not do it any justice. They ask “how was your year?” and I light up saying “it was amazing”, and its because it was. No, it was not easy, and yes there were many tears. Working through the challenges that were thrown at me made my year that much more meaningful. Yes, it is so nice to have warm long showers, a full refrigerator and be back in my big cozy bed, but all of these things are so insignificant now that I have lived without them for eight months. What made my year so special were the incredible people I made connections with: my best friend Nati from the program, my team leader, and mentor Lucia, my students at the high school, my neighbors, and the boy up the street who I fell in love with.
As I grapple with the realization that Ecuador is behind me, its comforting to know that my time there has had such a profound impact on who I am today and who I will continue to become. For my ‘Capstone’ I presented in a few classes at my old high school about Global Citizen Year and my experiences during my bridge year. To be completely honest, it was almost frustrating because it seemed like not many people were interested. Regardless of the students' amount of interest, I gave a memorable talk about following another path; you do not have to take the “normal” route directly to college after high school, there is not only one path to success, and taking a year off with GCY was just one of the many directions you could follow.
Though my speech may have resonated with few, I am proud to say that I inspired one student to apply to Global Citizen Year! As I face my next adventure and begin college I carry my year in Ecuador with me. I welcome my past experiences to new ones and I know for a fact that I will be back to my second home one day.