Within these past three weeks, I’ve been enjoying my time here in Quito. But sometimes, this experience feels limited with the language barrier I have. It’s left me voiceless at times, which has been a major obstacle for me so far. There are days where I feel frustrated because I don’t know the language enough to fully enjoy and immerse in the culture here. It’s also been bothering me because I can’t say what I want to say, which has caused misunderstandings with my host-family, teachers, and friends.
But, there are some days where I see my voicelessness as a valuable lesson. Being in this situation has helped me become a better listener and have more patience with myself. It’s definitely a change from things, because like most people, I’m used to just talking and not really spending the time to listen to others. When I think about it, I’ve actually learned a lot more from this challenge. Just listening to Ecuadorians speak everyday has given me a better understanding of the language. It’s slowly helping me gain the confidence to speak in Spanish more often.
My motivation for this is to listen and understand people’s stories here. I see a lot of problems everyday, like poverty, and like the Tenderloin exercise, I want to gain a better understanding of these people and situations. I attempted this one time by talking to a woman and her child, who were trying to sell oranges on the street. It ended up being awkward and unsuccessful because I didn’t understand most of what she said. Even though it wasn’t a fluid conversation, I see it now as a reminder to be persistent in my goal: to become fluent in Spanish.
With that in mind, I’m not as afraid now to make mistakes. I also have support from friends and family here and at home, which helps a lot. This voiceless feeling is tough, but it’s definitely a challenge I can overcome. I know it’s something that won’t be solved in a day, so I keep reminding myself that this is a goal I’ll be tackling for the months to come.