I want to start off by thanking all of my supporters for helping me to reach my goal of 2500 dollars for the Fellow Fund. I reached out to all of you in my time of need, and I was pleasantly surprised by the support you all returned. I found more support in some of you than I expected to, and I am so appreciative to have friends, family, and teachers who are so willing to invest in me, and I can only hope to be able to return the favor to each and every one of you some day.
It has only been a month since the start of my journey, but already I have gained so much knowledge, friendship, and understanding. From Los Angeles to Alliance Redwoods to Stanford to Quito, I feel that I have already seen and learned more than I might have in a year at school. I can feel my mind continuously expanding through every interaction I have, whether it is with a store clerk, a bus driver, another fellow, a team leader, my Spanish teacher, my host mother, or a top expert in a field.
During Fall Training at Alliance Redwoods, I learned about Global Citizen Behavior, encompassing well-being, diversity, accountability, gratitude, curiosity, and empathy. Through these traits, I have learned to approach new situations with a mindset most conducive to learning. The next few days at Stanford strengthened my ability to utilize these, while I heard from all kinds of people on the value of exploring different cultures. Representatives of many companies including Kiva, GiveDirectly, Google Giving, One World Futbol Project, and more inspired us as they talked about their missions to help people around the world as well.
Leaving for Ecuador was truly hard, as I knew I would not see half of the cohort until re-entry in April, severing newly-formed relationships that seemed so well-developed, despite the short period of cultivation. However, still being surrounded by many fellows eased the difficulty of adjustment. For the first few days, the entire Ecuador cohort stayed in a hostel. We slowly adapted to our new surroundings together.
That Sunday, I finally met my host mother Margarita, and it was once again time to separate with my fellows, but only temporarily until classes the next day. The first thing I remember her saying was, “Don’t be scared, I love you,” in unsure English. If I take only one thing away from this experience, I think it will be this. The beauty of this moment astonished me. I had never met this woman before, and she had only received a few paragraphs about me, and she spoke only a handful of words of English, as did I Spanish, yet she immediately opened up and embraced me, thus immediately showing the force of an interaction like this.
And although I have only just met my mother, it is already time to say good-bye and leave for another host family near Cuenca. I feel settled in, and I have developed a daily routine and many more friendships, and that is why it is so tough to go into the next part of my journey. I must leave most of the other fellows and everyone else I have met to go to my region with only nine other fellows and my team leader Yuri, but as I have in the past, I’m sure I will be able to say good-bye and adapt to my new home.