It’s amazing how a simple act of kindness and love can have such a significant effect on a person. This past week I spent with my community host family has been one of the hardest weeks of my entire time here in Ecuador. But the one thing I can point to and say “yes this made it all the better” were the warm embraces of my twelve year old host sister at every meeting. This week was filled with lots of silence because of the language barrier that was present and the obvious introvert that I am. We didn’t have much conversation but she never failed to give me a warm embrace when she greeted me. With all the challenges of having to get used to a whole new and foreign environment and having to live with another family, I vividly noticed the absence of my family and friends who I took such refuge in. The feeling of loneliness sank in every night I was alone in my cold room and I couldn’t wait to go back to Quito where my friends were and where I had a family that I was somewhat used to. But the next day’s good morning hug, although she didn’t know it was just the spoon full of sugar I needed to give me hope that maybe things will get better.
As I reflect on my past three weeks here in Ecuador, just like my sister’s comforting hugs this past week, it has been the small gestures of support and kindness of my host families and my forty- six fellow fellows here in Ecuador that have made it a much smoother experience for me. It would have been really easy for me to get stuck in an emotional black hole if it wasn’t for the comfort of knowing that I am not here alone. I am surrounded with people that have open minds, open hearts, and open hands. It makes me feel better about the challenging times I face alone in my community. Knowing that I have these people to support me helps me look at the challenges as learning opportunities that I can grow form.