Midpoint Reflection: What You Expected

Emily Hwang - Ecuador

January 7, 2013

What you want

is romance.

unpretentious country folk with toothless grins and simple dreams of owning a washer

and my 10,000 watt, bicultural,

hot-off-the-college-prep-academy grill complexity quieting to a dull 


Eat, Pray, Love style.

What you expected were children

and my 19 year old, non-Ecuadorian hands molding them like clay into my idea of

model citizens.

No, Carlos.  Your dreams are wrong.  

Don’t be a farmer.

Be a vet, since you like animals.

In 3 months time,

I’m on a plane, though

and Carlos, here, with his uncle’s cows and the dreams I planted and


I know that “Third World”

had you thinking lack,

had you thinking charity,

but I’m the sponge here, soaking-

my body bloated off Ecua-love and potatoes.

And when I wear the pink parka you packed me,

-which I assume you assumed you’d see in pensive photos overlooking majestic snow-capped mountaintops-

I paint 19 blocks of Riobamba pavement

a rosy shade of standard adolescence, instead.

You thought extraordinary would change me.

Turns out, extraordinary is ordinary in a foreign language,

well-traveled is well-funded and curious

and my quest to “change to world” should start where I started,

in my own community.


perhaps I didn’t need to leave in search of myself, after all

but perhaps, I did-

to realize it was there all along.

Emily Hwang