Muy buenos dias! I know it has been a while since I’ve posted on my blog and many of you have been expecting a post, but I have been pretty busy here in Quito. Not to say that I don’t miss you all terribly- because I do! My time here has had its ups and downs (mostly ups). I think that rather than try to impress you all with an intellectual, deep and meaningful blog, I would simply like to tell you what has been happening and what my life is like at this moment. Apologies to anyone expecting profound inspiration this week, I’ll try to get to that later.
I wish I had time and space to tell you all about fall training in the Redwoods and at Stanford. In short, the Redwoods were inspirational and uniting for our cohort as a whole. There I created the first bonds with this group. Stanford was more serious as we delved into some heavy topics. Stanford was where my critical thinking for the year began. If you would like to know more about fall training, check out some of my other fellows’ blogs. Plus, they have written it more eloquently than I could have.
Right now I’m living with a local family in Quito, the capital of Ecuador. Every day I go to Spanish classes for 4 hours in the mornings and the Global Citizen Year training until 5 pm or later. At training we have discussions and debates. It is a continuation of fall training, but only with the 52 Ecuador fellows and the Ecuador staff. So far, I love Ecuador. I love the people, the mountains, the food (with some exceptions), and even my 45 minute bus ride packed like sardines at 8 in the morning. Already, I feel more independent. I take pride in the first time I rode in a cab by myself and directed the driver in Spanish to a house I had lived in only a week. I enjoy being surrounded by the language I’m learning. I look forward to my hot cup of chocolate milk with bread and cheese for breakfast every morning.
However, I must be honest, not everything has gone so well in the last month since I began this journey with Global Citizen Year. I said I wouldn’t try to get into any heavier topics in this blog post, but here I go:
First, let’s go back to August 17, the night before I left Maine for San Fransisco, California. As my father can attest, this was not my best night. To be honest, I had a major freak out. Recently, I’ve had a problem of letting stress and emotions build up inside me until it all suddenly bursts out of me in a wave- no, more like a tsunami- of uncontrolled crying, heavy breathing, exhaustion, and occasionally even laughter (because I know how ridiculous I’m being). It’s really quite hideous. Already, this has happened twice within the last month, and I’m sure it is not the last of natural disaster Lillie. Thankfully, I have recovered quickly both times.
The second of these episodes is somewhat embarrassing to admit to. It happened two weekends ago. The trigger this time came when I learned what I am soon to be doing for the next 7 months. In retrospect, I don’t think this information was the worst of my problems, only the tipping point to my tub o’ feelings. At the time I was homesick and going through a bit of culture shock. But, I had pushed this down in anticipation of my placement announcement. The day went from low, to high, to lowest.
I’ll go ahead and tell you my placement. For the next 7 months, starting this Saturday, I will be living and working in a town called Penipe in the mountain province of Chimborazo. My apprenticeship will be working with people (age 1-43) with mental and/or physical handicaps at a convent/orphanage in Penipe. Needless to say, it was a shock considering I had expected to be placed on a rural farm, or teaching English in a school, like the majority of the 52 fellows will be doing. It had never crossed my mind that I could be working with people with handicaps. I have zero experience, and this is a job for someone with a strong emotional grounding. As I have told you, emotions are not my thing at the moment. How could I possibly be successful in this?
After a week or so of reflection, talking to family and friends (here and at home), and many prayers, I have come to the conclusion that I must have been placed where I am and given this opportunity for a reason. Whether it’s to give love to the people at the orphanage, to add meaning and purpose to my life, or some other reason, I plan to embrace it knowing I will learn so much more than I expected before coming here.
I appreciate the support of each one of you. And I hope that you know I am definitely not here “saving the world” or even making a significant difference. When it comes down to it, my motives are innately selfish. I want to learn more about myself, define my purpose, become more independent, learn Spanish, etc. But I do hope that even in the smallest manner, I can make a difference in the lives of the people I meet along the way. Please, keep me in mind this Saturday as I travel to meet my new family and to begin working. I will try to update this blog more often, and check out my pictures on facebook if you can!
Thank you so much for your support!
This post was written Friday, September 20. It has taken some time to be published, I will try to post again soon with more current updates. Sorry!