Not Foreign

Thomas Jay Clark - Ecuador


November 2, 2011

I’m the first to admit that my Spanish speaking skills are not that great. I’m also the first to admit that I possess incredibly perfectionist tendencies. The combination of these two led to a month and a half of silence: I only spoke when asked direct questions, or felt threatened. My silence ended about twenty minutes ago when I awoke with an epiphany. I always say it’s okay to make mistakes, but I’m going to actually practice what I preach. That’s only part of my sudden realization, this is not foreign!

I can’t argue that life in Cayambe, Ecuador is exactly like life in Atlanta, Georgia, because it isn’t. Until twenty minutes ago, I considered these cultures to be two separate beings unconnected in my mind. When random things in Cayambe reminded me of home, I sunk into a tiny bit of homesickness but went on with life. Suddenly this isn’t the case.

Ecuadorian culture is as much a part of me as the past 18 years of Atlanta culture shaped who I am today. These cultures are incredibly different, but they are the same. I didn’t grow up Ecuadorian, but it’s not foreign.

I’m sure reading this your thinking, ‘Of course it’s foreign! It’s completely different than everything you’ve known until a month and a half ago!’

I’m happy to say that you are wrong. Ecuadorian culture is my culture. Sure, not my native culture, but it is my culture as a Global Citizen. All the cultures of the world are my culture, and yours too! We simply don’t know it until we’ve lived with someone completely different!

From this moment forward I’m embracing my culture, making mistakes, and learning as much as possible! I’ll probably look really foolish more than once speaking Spanish, but this is my home: in your home you can make mistakes, and your family still loves you.

Thomas Jay Clark