Looking Ahead

Marisa Etzell - Ecuador


October 16, 2015

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My 19th birthday is on April 11, 2016, and that is around the time that we leave our community here in Ecuador and fly back to the United States, so I’m going to use that as the “end date” for my vision statement, even though it’s not really the end, it’s the beginning.

By my 19th birthday,  I will be able to participate in a conversation in Spanish and say something more than “si” or “No entiendo”. Not only that, but I will be comfortable with making a fool of myself when trying to speak spanish and have the ability to laugh at my mistakes. And rather than seeing my mistakes as a weakness or flaw in my character, I will have realized that my mistakes are perfect and those so-called failures are what lead me to becoming the best version of myself.

By the end of my time in Ecuador, I will have spent countless hours observing the people, listening to the language, learning about the culture, understanding new perspectives, engaging in a totally unfamiliar environment, and immersing myself in a foreign community. I will be an active member of the small community of Deleg and be remembered as a loving daughter, friend, caretaker, and teacher. I will gain a sense of belonging in a beautiful place called Ecuador, and be able to call it home. In addition, I will be able to say that I represented Whidbey Island, Washington State, and the United States well and left a positive impression of where I am from.

By my 19th birthday, I will have discovered a new passion, I will be confident in who I am, who I have become, and who I am yet to be. I will be able to confidently say that I embraced challenges along the journey, and while I may change and be different, I will be my best self. I will return to my family in the United States with a broader perspective, willing to share with my home community and beyond all that I have learned so that they can experience it through me. While I may not necessarily know what I want to study in college, I will be eager to seek knowledge and want to surround myself with people who push me to strive to be even better every day. I will have a deeper understanding of myself and the core values I hold true. I can proudly say that I was vulnerable with others, sharing my raw emotions with them whether it be tears of pain, sadness, or joy.

I will be able to look back at the 7 months I spent in the small community of Deleg and smile, knowing that I was once a baby unable to walk on my own. Little by little, I began to crawl, and while I stumbled and fell on my face several times, I was able to pick myself up and dust myself off; I had the courage to take the next step, and because of that, I learned how to walk.

And that is the best birthday gift of all.

Marisa Etzell