Reflections from Zuleta

Omar Arteaga - Ecuador


December 20, 2010

As I look back on all of my mistakes, I ask myself if the path that I have chosen to pursue is the right one for me. All of a sudden I shed a tear, I soon wipe it of my cheek and then I begin to listen to my conscience. Little by little I hear it telling me that God led me here because he had better plans for me and he wanted a better lifestyle for me than a life in the National Guard. Before GCY came along, I had my mind set on doing something courageous that would not only challenge me physically, but mentally. I wanted to be a person who would be able to say that I put my life on the line for my country. This would be one of the toughest things I would do in my life, but it was my dream and I was prepared to pursue it: joining the National Guard.

However, after finally being convinced by my Summer Search mentor, Monica Hanza, her words of advice began to sink in my mind about giving back to the world in different ways then just going off to war, defending my country through combat. Having my mentor by my side helped me guide me towards success that I have obtain thus far, it was as if God sent me a guardian angel to protect me and help me grow as a person. And my Global Citizen Year is part of that growth.

My life has been filled with tons of emotions, deaths, and life changing experiences, but this is my time to show the world who Omar Arteaga truly is. No matter where I go, no matter where I end up, I know that my life is going somewhere. All of the challenges that I faced before – from watching my family members get shot at to seeing my closest friends destroying their future with drugs and alcohol – were motivations for me to strive for the best in life and show the world that where we come from, what our back ground is, nor the color of our skin should prevent us from reaching our goals.

This Global Citizen Year is starting to demonstrate to me that this year is not only a year of taking a break from school or from work or taking a break from the city, but it is also a year to dedicate all of my effort and time to a community of wonderful individuals who I can support and motivate. Each and every day of my new life here in this village of Zuleta, where I work in the local high school teaching English, I feel my mentality changing and expanding. Learning more about myself as I am learning about the world is an incredible feeling. Here, I have been learning about who I want to be as a person as well as what I am going to do with my life in the future. Knowing that I can come and be part of a small community and be able to change the life of someone and make a difference in a kid’s life is an endless inspiration that will forever stay true in my heart.

I have also come to learn that life is about having patience. We cannot live life wanting to move forward as quickly as possible. We must wait, expect the unexpected things in life, and carry on – with patience – to find our satisfactions and create options to help us live healthier, better lives. And that takes time. And I am OK with that.

Omar Arteaga