Managing Expectations

Leila Merzenich - Ecuador


September 13, 2017

Yesterday in Quito, our entire cohort found out where in Ecuador we would be spending our next seven months, and let's just say we were all pretty nervous. I went into this process ready to accept whatever I was given and make the most out of it. Obviously I had an idea of my dream placement, but didn't want to be disappointed by what I was given, so I left those expectations behind and was ready for any adventure.

If I'm honest with you, i still had a few things that I really hoped to get, and this placement has exceeded any hopes and dreams I could have come up with on my own, and I am so excited to get started. 
Here's a quick summary of what I know so far:
I'm living on a farm in a community so small that you can't find it on Google maps. It's called Bella Union, and it is forty minutes outside of Cuenca. 
I will be living here with a family of six incredible seeming people, all women. I have a mom, three sisters, and two nieces, who run this farm, as well as a yogurt factory and a place that serves almuerzo. I'm so excited to get to know these powerful women, as well as learn how to take care of farm animals, milk a cow, and maybe even how to make yogurt! 
I'm working in una escuela for elementary through high school aged kids, where I will be co-teaching English, as well as hopefully science or math. I love working with kids, and I'm so excited!!
I am ten minutes from San Bartolomé, where artisans make incredible guitars, which I definitely want to buy.
For the past two weeks, first in Stanford, then in Berkeley, now in Quito, I've been in this awkward in between place, where I feel disconnected from home, but at the same time, haven't fully accepted yet that I'm spending my year in Ecuador. It hasn't really felt real, with everything that has happened. Especially this past week, it's been hard to be fully present. But now, knowing where I'm going to be spending my year, I can focus on that, focus on what I will be doing, the skills I will learn, the relationships I will make, and remember why I'm here. Because I'm not here to prove anything to anyone, or to make Global Citizen Year proud. I'm here to learn, to grow, to get out of my comfort zone. I'm here for the community I was placed in, the family that is gratiously taking me in, the school I will be teaching at. 
And it's incredible that I've created such strong relationships with many people, whether they will be a ten minute walk, a twelve hour bus ride, or two 4 hour plane rides from me. I know that I have so many people that will support me when I need it during this incredible journey.
But in the end, this is my journey, and I'm so excited for it to finally begin.

Leila Merzenich