Strangers Like Me

Meliza Windmoeller - Ecuador


January 15, 2013

Everybody has seen Tarzan. Or at least I hope everyone has…if you haven’t I would strongly recommend you get on that. Now, what does Tarzan, a Walt Disney 90’s classic, have to to do with my life as a Global Citizen Year Citizen? Let’s think about that for a minute. In the movie, a man who grew up in the jungle and was raised by a family of apes, for the first time in his life finds out there are other beings that are just like him.

These creatures in his eyes are strange. They talk differently, dress differently, have all sorts of new objects and their way of life is incredibly different. These strangers teach Tarzan their way of life and educate him the best the know how.

I think it’s making sense now. This movie, in my opinion, was made for Global Citizen Year. Imagine my surprise as I was skimming my music selection on my ipod and for the first time I really heard the lyrics to “Strangers Like Me” by Phil Collins (a song used in the motion picture) a couple months ago at the beginning of this adventure.

“Whatever you do, I’ll do it too. Show me everything and tell me how. It all means something and yet nothing to me. I can see there’s so much to learn, it’s all so close and yet so far, I see myself as people see me. Oh, I just know there’s something bigger out there. I wanna know, can you show me? I wanna know about these strangers like me. Tell me more, please show me, something’s familiar about these strangers like me…”

These lyrics really hit home with me, in a different way than it would for another fellow. As everyone knows, I was born in Colombia and adopted shortly after I hit the year old mark. Most of my life I hadn’t given the family or life I left behind in Colombia a second thought. I live in America with a good family, I can speak English, why in the world would I want to think about that? I was perfectly content to just live in the moment and not think too hard about it. But ever since I have been in Ecuador, I find my thoughts frequently straying to what could have been.

I think about it when I’m sitting on the bus to Tena and I can blend in perfectly in the sea of black hair and copper skin. I think about it when I’m attempting to help cook a meal and realize how I sorely lack the kitchen skills every single woman here possesses. But most of all I think about it when I am speaking Spanish. My lips and tongue struggle together to pronounce everyday words; words they would have absolutely no trouble saying if I had learned Spanish as my first language like I was supposed to.

I find myself wanting to learn everything I can from the people here, just as the lyrics portray. These people literally are strangers like me, and their lives could have been mine. So that’s what I have been focusing on this last month and will continue to do so in the time I have remaining here.  To find out what else is out there, and to get to know a familiar, but whole new world.

Meliza Windmoeller