Popping Bubbles

Natalie Toops - Ecuador


March 11, 2019

There is this term used for the perspectives we have for our lives, this
reference is commonly compared to living inside a “bubble.” Growing up in
the same place for long periods of time allows us to become comfortable and
develop ignorance. It is a quality that is applicable to everyone,
including myself, and it is difficult to break this habit of comfort and
ignorance. There are obvious differences here in comparison to the United
States, such as, not throwing toilet paper in the toilet, eating guinea
pigs, or wearing shoes all the time. These are differences in culture that
I have adapted to easily, it was an experience I had with a strange boy
that widened my eyes to my privileges, as well as, those of others.

I had a wonderful life growing up, I have much gratitude for my parents
work and the opportunities that were presented to me. I spent most of my
childhood years in an affluent, predominately white area. Here peers of
mine drive expensive cars, have the newest technology, and enjoy indulging
in the typical material lifestyle that is ever-so-common in the United
States. I personally enjoyed working, trying to maintain a minimalist
lifestyle, and committing myself to bettering my mindset. Yet I did live in
my “bubble” I had many luxuries, much ignorance, as well as my routine
habits. I came to Ecuador and saw a life other than the consumerism of the
United States. I began to appreciate having my own car, having internet,
and having restaurants at my disposal more than ever before.

About a week ago there was a local holiday in my town for Arcangel San
Miguel. I was sitting with my family inside the church trying to avoid the
blazing sun, they were not talking to me much so I was really just sitting
next to my family not with my family. There was a boy sitting across from
me; he was skinny, had dirty and ripped clothes, was alone, and was playing
with plastic cups from the ground. He began to talk to me. He asked me
about my life and paid more attention to me than my family was at that
moment. Even if I did not know how to respond to his questions he would
continue to talk to me and showed me kindness. In front of me was a child
who appeared to not have many friends, a child who does not eat often, but
someone who has curiosity and finds joy in used plastic cups from the
ground. Next to me was my host brother who was around the same age, who has
a lot of friends, eats often, and asks for money to buy treats and toys.
This boy showed me that even though Ecuador destroyed my “bubble” of
Parkland and the United States, he destroyed the “bubble” of my life in
Ecuador.

From this experience I was reminded that anyone can teach you just by being
in your life, even for a moment, if we have the awareness to comprehend the
lessons. There will always be someone that needs help, needs a friend, and
needs love. It is essential in this life to acknowledge the power love
holds and how influential that power is if utilized properly. I hope I was
a friend to that boy and shared some happiness with him through our short
time together. I now can see different perspectives but know that I am no
where near finished seeing different lifestyles and “bubbles.” I was given
the opportunity to pop my “bubble” and after these six months of life left
here in Ecuador I am scared to go back to the “bubble” of Parkland.

Natalie Toops