I think you were the first person, to actually make me feel truly inspired here. There was something abut the way you carried yourself around in the house, how you smiled at everyone in the streets, and how you would patiently wait, to interpret my mumbled, poorly conjugated verbs in Spanish. I remember the first evening I sat by you, in the grand bedroom. Whilst tirelessly using google translate, and heavily relaying on your english – which you had no choice but to better, with me being around the house (sorry for that) – I tried my best to explain who I am, my past, my future, my present. The hardships I went through, what I appreciated about my past, and what I thought could’ve been done better. You sat there, quietly nodding, smiling when appropriate, and wearing your serious face when needed. When I went quiet – or (more commonly) lost for words – you filled that space with your own stories. Past, present, future and hardships. That evening was the first one, in which I understood part of who you are as a person – and couldn’t have been more grateful for being placed in your family.
You, my host mom, have taken your ‘title’ , with seriousness and respect which I haven’t encountered in a long time. I will never forget one day, in my second month here, I arrived home late after a Spanish class, dropped my things in my room and went out to see who’s in the house. To my surprise there was an old lady in the living room, and I saw my host mom, and one of the workers from our mobile phone store, sitting and speaking to her. At first I was puzzled, but about half an hour later, when she came to my room, it was explained to me that this woman is an alcoholic, and that we’re helping her sober up and rehabilitate. As I continuously noticed over the following months, these small (or big) acts of kinds and service, were constantly being repeated all around me. And I, every time this happened, I was both surprised and impressed.
One evening, as we were walking down to another one of our evening runs, we started speaking about a lot of different things. Eventually stumbling upon the reasons for which she (my host mother), continuously contributes to her local community. Her response was calm and straight to the point – “I began doing service for the people of Gualaceo (my host community) when I was about 22, in university.” Although I don’t recall the conversation word to word, her answer was more or less as follows. When I was young, people helped me and my family, and thats how I ‘changed the circle’ (a very common phrase used by my host mom, referring to how she managed to get out of a circle her parents, siblings or grandparents were in, whether economically or mentally – in terms of way of thinking). Now I’m in a position where I can help people, who are in a situation I was very much familiar with, its the very least I could do. This conversation, along with the answer of my host mom. Is one which I reflected upon numerous times ever since we had it, and I’m sure I will continue to reflect upon it more as time passes.
My point is this, I arrived into my host community, eager to help, support and give service to the community, with aspirations of effectively doing so one day on a very large scale. However what I had been continuously taught by those around me – especially my host mom – is that doing service to your local community, effectively – in which ever form that might be – is as important – if not more – as doing service on a very large scale.
I would like to end this blog (as always) with words of gratitude: First and foremost, to my host mom here, which constantly supports and explains everything from culture, to everyday traditions in my host community. Secondly I want to thank my host family as a whole, for opening their house to me, and especially lately, for opening their house to my dad as well for a few days. Thirdly I want to thank my dad, for coming to visit me here, and traveling with me (a lot) through most parts of the Ecuadorean andes, allowing me to reflect on a lot things with him (and alone) which help me shape a lot of ideas, towards my last months here in Ecuador. Lastly I want to thank my family and friends, which constantly support me from overseas, I’m (as always) immensely grateful.
Until next time, with love from Ecuador,