Spanish words fill my ears, dust swirls around my legs, and the colors of Ecuador spin around me as my blue eyes soaks in each one of them. Every day I am awakened by the screaming roosters 10 feet from my door, followed by the rest of the chickens and dogs communicating throughout my small town. I wake up to see the clouds lifting from the snow-capped volcano, Cayambe and the great protecting volcano of Imbabura. I walk to the kitchen, kiss my mom, brother, sister and dad on the cheek as my mom puts breakfast on the table between making uniforms, washing clothes by hand, and working in many other social aspects in my community. I think to myself, I could be in college right now. Eating in a sleepy dining hall with 1,000 other kids who may or may not care to be there. But, I am in Imbaya, Ecuador, now a part of a family who were complete strangers just 3 weeks ago. I am a member of a community who accepted me the moment I entered. I am a friend to numerous kids who wave and shout, “Hola Abbie! Buenos dias!” as they walk to school. I am an English teacher, doctor, government official, banker, computer expertise, dancer, soccer player, chef and the list grows every day. I am grateful.
I am grateful for each opportunity I am presented with and each new thing I experience. I am grateful for the support of my fellow Fellows and the sparse moments of comfort I experience. I am grateful for the family and friends I am able to miss immensely at home. I feel more grateful than I ever have and although not one day here so far has been easy, I have grown as a person in ways I didn’t know I could. I am slowly starting to make a home for myself here as the reality of 6 more months sets in. Although the time seems daunting to me now, I know in just a short amount of time I will be wishing to have more. With that in mind, I try to soak in every moment here and not take them for granted. It has never felt truer that the days are long but the year is short. So despite the fact that it may be difficult to embrace every high and low, I know one day I will be longing for them and for now I am grateful.