So for the past two months I’ve been living with a completely indigenous family in the community of Mancheno, about an hour away from Riobamba, Chimborazo and working in an INFA center as well as a school where I teach English. I love my family; especially my grandmother who does a great job of making me feel like a member of the family by making fun of me non-stop. The best part though are the kids at the INFA center who make me feel so welcome by screaming my name and running up to hug me every morning. So many things have changed in the past four months that to say that I’ve been out of my comfort zone is saying the least.
I almost feel like a different person speaking a different language every day, worrying about what homework assignment I’ll give to my students instead of how I’ll do my own homework, and having dry and cracked hands from having to hand wash my laundry. But there are things that I can’t seem to get used to, like the family of ten that lives in a house made for four at the most, or the kids at the INFA center who wear the same clothes all week and seem like they have an everlasting cold. These are the things that challenge me most. They are the things that I wish I could change, and the disappointments cut deep when I realize that I am in no position to do that. These things sometimes make me question why I’m here in the first place if I can’t help anyone.
I don’t know if any of my fellow Fellows have been feeling this way, but if anyone has, I hope that what I figured to be my answer to this question will help you answer it for yourselves. The answer clicked in my head the first time that my aunt told me that I was getting better at washing my clothes. I was so happy that day even the fact that the cow knocked down the bucket with my clean clothes in it didn’t even get me down. I was just happy to show off my new skill while rewashing them. But at that moment it dawned on me that I am not here to change anything. More accurately, I am here to get a glimpse of the different ways of life in the world so that I can have a better understanding of the world around me. I am here to change myself and my perspectives so that in the future I will be more equipped to make a change whether it be big or small.
So whether my challenges are big, like having issues with my host family, or small, like the cold bucket showers in Chimborazo, I can at least be sure that I am growing because challenges, win or lose, make us better people.