Immersed At Last, Immersed At Last

Live with a family. Have a local job. Go deeper than a traveler. Become part of a community and make a meaningful and informed contribution. Go from they to we.

On Global Citizen Year’s website, immersion is defined in this way. I’ve heard the word a hundred times before and during this program thus far, but I don’t think I fully understood what it meant or what it looked like until now – the end with only two months to go. Immersion, to me, are the moments that never would have been had I not lived here the past five months.

I remember especially hating bugs before this year; they petrified me. That’s why I think “this is immersion” when I see giant bugs in my room and only silently panic rather than screaming at the top of my lungs for every little ant I find indoors. Immersion is wanting to visit the amazon despite the plethora of bugs in all different forms and sizes. Or perhaps it is because there are bugs that I want to go and prove to myself that I will survive. I am Ecuadorian. Sort of. Not Really.

Immersion is the expansion in the size of my stomach. It’s getting used to the mounds of rice to consume for breakfast lunch and dinner. It’s actually craving Ecuadorian almuerzos when I go out to eat, and it’s proclaiming that $3.50 for a juice, soup, and plate of food is outrageously overpriced.

Immersion is finding chola Cuencana wear beautiful. It’s meeting a elderly chola Cuencana at the bus stop with a huge bag of produce, and sharing life stories on the bus home. It’s also seeing the same lady wave to me from the front of a different bus a month later.

I guess familiarity with this new world is one of the big components of immersion. But I wouldn’t say that immersion is just knowing that the bus comes on Sunday mornings at 7:00 am sharp to get to church on time. Immersion is running on Ecua-time (5-10 minutes late always at the minimum), missing that bus, knowing to regret it, but then realizing everyone else will be late as well.

(pc Lily Cora)

I’d say that immersion is taking a new place, new customs, and new people, and making them home.

Immersion takes place the moment I stop going to Parque Calderon because it reminds me of Rittenhouse Square. It starts when I start visiting other cities like Ibarra and Riobamba thinking that their parks are not as beautiful as mine back at home. Mine, home — my city and my home is Cuenca.