So I have like a week of information to stuff into one blog post. It might seem sporadic and all over the place but it’s important to me and you’re choosing to keep up with me so it’s about to be important to you. I’m going to start off with immediately after my speak up.
Once I finished my speak up, everyone applauded and for the first time in my GCY experience, only people of color responded to the speak up (which is strange because for the most part, only white fellows respond to speak ups). I was overcome with a lot of emotion because the people who said the racist stuff to me were in that crowd. After the rest of the group stuff finished, one of the people who made the comments came up to me to show their support for what I said but asked “it wasn’t me who said that racist stuff, right?” I didn’t really give it a second thought when I replied “yes”. The person apologized and asked what they could do to make it better and I told them there really wasn’t much they could do. I left at that point and went to dance with some of my best friends in the program. Everytime I think of that night, I am very thankful for the people I got to meet here and even though I won’t be seeing some everyday for these next 7 months, I still know they will be my biggest supports systems while I’m out here.
The next day, I went to the top of Pichincha, approximately 13,000 feet above sea level, with the same group of people. I went home, packed my bags, and went to sleep. The next day, I left my Quito host family’s house at 6:20 and got to EIL, where we had been taking Spanish classes, and loaded my bags onto the coach bus we got for our 12 hour ride down south. Three of my buddies going to the north came to say bye to us and as the bus pulled away, I bawled my eyes out. One of the people that came to say bye was my first friend in the program.
I don’t think I’ve ever verbalized this before but my friends in Chicago have made my standards for friends super high. Back in Chicago, I’m definitely sure I spent more time with friends than with family- which is to my own fault. When I think about senior year of high school and my summer before leaving to Ecuador, I worked with my best friends and spent most of my free time with them too. The first friend I made here was the closest thing to what I had back home and all that kept going through my mind was “damn, I really have to do this by myself now”.
I cried at least once an hour for every hour of our twelve hour bus ride to Cuenca because saying goodbye to my close friends brought back memories of saying goodbye to my best friends in Chicago which brought back memories of saying goodbye to my family which, in short, was an extremely long cycle of goodbyes. When we finally made it to our hostel in Cuenca (which wasn’t even really a hostel, it was like a high end hotel), everyone was emotionally drained and exhausted but my I could definitely feel our cohort coming together. Those next three days kind of blurred together but one thing did stand out in particular- I received an apology from the other person mentioned in my speak up. It really messed with my head because the apology felt forced. I didn’t tell my cohort about it until our last night together but their support and validation helped me sort out those feelings. It was also around this time that I realized I didn’t have to lower my standards for friendships, but I did have to let people be my friend (if that makes any sense).
The day after that, GCY dropped us off at our permanent host families. This was a long time coming. I have been living out of a suitcase for the last three weeks, losing track of what clothes is clean or musty, and have lost my beloved Uniqlo fleece- so to say the least I am very excited to settle down. My nuclear host family is made up of my host mom, host dad, my 16 year old host naña (sister), my 12 year old host naña, and 10 month old host naño. My host parents run a restaurant next door to our house and it’s open 6 days a week and everyone who works here is related somehow. It’s very fast paced and crazy but I love it and my host family has really made me feel apart of everything- especially on seafood Saturday where we worked nonstop all day and I really learned what working in the food industry worked.
About an hour before closing, my nañas and I got to go shower and get ready to go to a meeting where my older naña would be getting a certificate for her volunteer work she did over the summer with the InfoCentro I will be working with. Long story short, it didn’t end up getting her certificate because it was just a planning meeting but I did learn a lot about what my apprenticeship will be and I met my supervisor. I am basically working at a community outreach center for at risk youth and young adults and helping with whatever projects they have for me. After the meeting, we went to my host grandparent’s house and played bingo, where I proudly won $2.50.
Like I said earlier, this blog was mainly trying to get out all the things I haven’t had time to sit down and write about and to let my fans know what’s going on.
This song is dedicated to my friends (new and old ones):