1/14/14

Learning and Loving in Ecuador

Brianna has been a WorldTeach Ecuador volunteer since September 2013. As her service progresses, Brianna finds herself learning from Ecuador and falling in love with the place and people. Read on to hear about her reflections from four months into her service...
The past few months living in Ecuador have taught me so much. I have had the lowest of lows and the highest of highs. I have spent a considerable amount of time alone, sometimes by choice and sometimes because there was simply no one to pass the time with. I have been afraid, and through facing my fears have become certain.
This is the life I want. I want to travel. I want to see new places and connect with people. I want to discover the parts of me that are buried beneath layers of culture, of nurture, of “supposed to’s” and “should’s.” I have found that traveling breaks you open, and you find that you are caught in the middle of your cultural values and norms and those of your host country. It makes you question what you believe and what is “normal.” It shows you that you can, in fact, rely on yourself, and that you are enough.
It also has shown me love in it’s many forms. Most Ecuadorian people are welcoming, friendly, and hospitable. My host family in Quito walked me out to the first cab I took, and made sure the driver was taking me to the right address, and coming to collect me again later. My host mom always checked to be sure I was wearing my sunscreen outside, and that I didn’t eat the street food. My host family in Riobamba has taken care of me each time I’ve been sick, getting my medicine and asking the doctors the necessary questions. My host mom has been careful to cook foods she knows my stomach will accept, and the whole family checks on me to be sure I am healthy and doing well. My host mom gave me a handmade scarf for Christmas, and then presented me with another when I returned from my trip home, because the first one wasn’t warm enough. My co-workers have guided me through my first months of teaching, giving me tips and ideas for lessons, teaching me Ecuadorian slang, and showing me friendship. My roommate showed me around town and helped me find everything I needed in Riobamba, and occasionally gives me chocolates and cookies, just because. 
I have fallen in love here. With travel, with Ecuador and Riobamba, with the people, with my passions, and my life. Every day I get to do what I love. I teach, I learn, I connect with people, I practice my Spanish and my yoga, I write, I push myself out of my comfort zone and discover new things all the time. Every day, I become more myself. 
Being away has taught me to appreciate the U.S. and my home- my family, friends, and the comforts that I have taken for granted. It has also shown me that there is more than one “right way.” 
Before I came to Ecuador, I read this: 
You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place. 
— Miriam Adeney

This is true. I have missed home, the place where I grew up, and where my family lives. And once I went home for the holidays, I was happy to be back, and sad to have to leave again. But upon returning to Ecuador, I fell in love all over again. I don’t think I could be satisfied with a life in just one place. A part of me will always be here, and another part there. And I imagine there are parts of me still undiscovered, in other corners of the world, places I miss before I even know them. 


The town of Otavalo- one of the author's favorites. 

Brianna Lertora, WorldTeach Ecuador 2013-2014


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