As stepping on the plane to Ecuador was a huge transition, boarding the plane back to Seattle will be an equally unique challenge. Looking forward with the past year in mind, I have intentions for the coming months to foster a positive re-integration to the United States. I share them with you now both to celebrate the successes that have brought me to the point I am at now and to give myself a motivating sense of accountability. Please feel free to comment below or to contact me otherwise with feedback and suggestions on my intentions.
On continuing language and cultural education: In high school, Spanish was the only subject I earned less than As in – I struggled bastante, a lot, with language, and even chose to write my International Baccalaureat Extended Essay in Spanish in hopes of improving. What I knew of Latin American culture could be condensed to “day of the dead,” “spicy food,” and “south of the U.S.” A limited knowledge base, huh? Arriving in my Ecuadorian community, I was incredibly challenged by the communication barriers, both idiomatic and cultural, that I had overconfidently blown off before my arrival. Seven months later, I am confidently giving educational lectures to visiting schools to the Animal Rescue Center where I work and I am known as a great dancer and cook by neighbors. Of course, these successes (among many others) are all kudos to the people around me, which is why I intend to create myself a new community temporarily in the Seattle area and more permanently where I touch down for college. Resouces I have in mind are Spanish conversation groups, casual Latin dance groups (in Seattle, Century Ballroom has salsa and Merengue open dance nights!), and Latin-American culture clubs. In addition, being the classically trained cellist I am, I intend to keep in touch with music trends, and I semi-secretly, semi-publically am really hoping that Romeo Santos will start a world tour. I commit to this intention.
On health: I intend to pursue a health and balanced lifestyle that includes appropriate fitness and nutrition. My main reason to take a bridge-year in Ecuador was to heal after years of abusing my body with unhealthy habits. So much more whole and grounded today, I look towards my future with an overwhelming hope. For me to successfully maintain this elevated level of health, I plan to carefully watch my thoughts and actions relation to nutrition and exercise, keeping in mind that I will be suddenly faced by all-the-time internet access and Western beauty standards upon landing in the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on April 19th. I commit to this intention.
On relationships: My childhood and young-adult years speak to broken relationships. Between a very unhealthy home situation and coping mechanisms that included pushing friends and family away, I sacrificed and suffered many relationships. A goal for my bridge year was to develop positive familial and friend relationships in my community, exploring this part of life outside of environments that could trigger a relapse into certain coping mechanisms. I currently have an Ecuadorian family, many members strong, that has inspired me in my “blood” family relationships. I intend to continue working towards healthy relationships with my family by facing conflicts with a more open mind and taking initiative to mold these changing relationships in positive and constructive ways (taking turns cook dinner with my mom, taking on more household chores, and taking my brother out to do fun things are all on the list). In terms of my Ecuadorian Family, I intend to call them twice a month for the first three months back in the United States to check up and to maintain these incredible friendships. I also intend to commit meaningful time towards specific positive friendships that I am honored to have and that I hope to find. I commit to this intention.
On “sharing my story:” Unfortunately for the world, I am going to keep crowding up the internet space with blog posts. I have found so much ability to express myself and share through writing these blogs, and I intend to continue positing with a personal blog that has not yet been created (please check back in early May with the site). Please feel free to warn friends and family to stay far, far away from this blog (or perhaps to encourage them to read if you enjoy the thoughts I put out). In addition, I intend to start writing a memoir about this past year of healing and growth; stayed tuned for more updates on this book! I commit to these intentions.
On being an active global citizen: So much of what I have learned this year is that so, so much is passing in the world right now. There is so much that I want to take action on, but I realize that my efforts will be best placed on a few, well-thought-out projects. My first step towards contributing towards positive change is keeping in touch with world events and becoming a more educated citizen of the world. I intend to read a variety (U.S. and non-U.S.) news sources and explore the history and culture of more countries through what means I can find. I commit to these intentions.
So there they are! The intentions have been shared. Only time will show us where I go from here, I but I have a feeling that good things are in my future. To you, the reader, a million thanks. Even if I am disillusioned and you don’t exist, I have felt such warmth knowing that I have the listen ears to share shadows of some of my huge realizations (which you probably already knew). May you intend to continue supporting hopeful global citizens in the future.
So there they are – the intentions. Thank you for reading a blog or few of mine; your support in providing a listening ear has helped me face challenges with pride, dignity, confidence, and humanity.
Until next time,