Saludos desde Ecuador!

Layla Solatan - Ecuador


October 2, 2017

It's been a month since we were told that our flight to Ecuador was being cancelled due to Hurricane Harvey. Luckily, this was the only setback we had to deal with as a result of this hurricane. Still, it’s not the best news to receive the day before your flight to Ecuador for 8 months—the day most of us had been anticipating for months. Since this day on, my cohort and I have both had collective and individual setbacks, struggles, and challenges. 

Today was the first day of the Global Citizen Year life I'd been imagining since I applied over a year ago. Today I woke up at 5am so that I could get ready, have breakfast, drop my host sister and cousins off at school, and get to my apprenticeship by 6:45am before the doors closed. Will this be my morning routine for the next 7 months? I don't know. This year is full of uncertainty. I just have to wake up every morning—whether it be 5am or 8am—ready to be my best self and accept the new challenges of every day. 

This brings me back to our flight cancellation. In retrospect, I'm thankful for that. Being told that we didn't know if our new flight would be in an hour, next week, or even longer, and that we just had to go with the flow, has been the start of learning to navigate the loco of this year. From falling asleep on the bus and walking back home a couple miles, to getting a bacterial virus and parasite that has kept me in bed this entire week, I've tried to end each day with gratitude and a deep breath.

~

It’s been almost two weeks since we’ve moved into our host families. I’m living in a northern region of Ecuador in the tucked away town of El Milagro just outside of Ibarra, Imbabura. It’s about two hours north of the capital, Quito. It’s a small, fairly tranquil city surrounded by breathtaking mountains, volcanoes, lakes, and different towns. You have to leave El Milagro to do most things, but I accidentally stumbled upon a small, cozy, private cliff away at the edge of town that let’s me listen to the sounds of the river, be surrounded by nature, and catch my breath whenever I’m feeling a little overwhelmed. Tranquilo describes it

I live with a host mother, father, and ten-year old sister. But that’s not everyone–the entire block is my family! I sometimes wake up to loud laughs streaming from the kitchen because all my host tíos and tías are over with their kids enjoying the classic Ecuadorian desayuno: cafecito y pancito (black coffee with extra sugar and some bread). Big impromptu dinners with the whole family are not uncommon, and they’re the best. They love learning about American culture just as much as I love learning about Ecuadorian culture, and it always ends in laughter when they ask me to teach them some English words. My host sister-in-law Amanda tried to ask me what the title of Alicia Keys’s song "My Boo" meant, but I couldn’t understand what she was referencing. She kept pointing to her 7-month old son to possibly help, but she was also breastfeeding, and I got the completely wrong word. I did not hear "boo." They figured out what had happened, and everyone was hysterical. 

My apprenticeship is co-teaching at Unidad Educativa Teodoro Gomez de la Torro. It’s a school of students from kindergarten to high school, just a half hour bus ride from El Milagro. The Fellow who worked here last year spoke about TGT very highly and warmly, and vice versa. The possibility of working in a local school here in Ecuador is the initial reason I decided to apply to Global Citizen Year specifically. The genuine happiness, gratitude, and excitement that I had when my Team Leader Meli handed me a small, white paper bag and I ripped it open to find that I’d been placed here is indescribable. It felt like the past fourteen years of schooling and waking up at 4am after going to bed at 2am to study weren’t so bad after all. After a long two weeks of waiting, today was my first day and it almost couldn’t have gone better. The day started off with hugs from all the teachers who awaited me, and a warm welcome from my supervisor, Luz, in broken English: "I love you. I think my colleagues will love you too. We are so happy you are here." I spent most of the day going around different classrooms helping kids with their classwork, and even ended up making up a lesson on the present perfect form (Spanish isn’t the only language I’m learning. I had no idea what this was yesterday.) by pulling out some old teaching tricks from my past language teachers. My students were as welcoming as the teachers, and were showed as much support for me on my first day as I hope to for them the next 7 months. 

 

¡Ciao y abrazos!

Layla



My host nephew Benji dancing on our roof as we blast Despacito and we pretends to be a fidget spinner.



​Incredible view of the volcano Imbabura from my bedroom window.



​Quito, the capital of Ecuador



​My amazing Northern Imbabura cohort "The Lagunis" 

(l. to r.) Oumaima, Malaak, Chris, Jeannine, me, Attitus, Henry, Mckenna, Summer, Dale, Jack

Layla Solatan