This is a post that I began writing on the plane ride home. I no longer feel quite as sad, but I definitely do miss Ecuador. Without further ado…
Today is April 25th, the day I have been looking forward to since I booked my second round-trip flight in early November (about a week after being in Ecuador). I remember sitting on my bed in Reyna’s house, realizing how hard it was to be away from everything I knew and, instead, be thrown into a world completely different than the one I was used to. I knew that coming to Ecuador was the right thing for me to do, and that I was following my dreams and whatnot, but I certainly didn’t feel like I was living the dream at the time. Somehow, going online and booking the second trip (Kansas to Ecuador in February and Ecuador to Kansas in April) reminded me that I wasn’t going to be in that culturally, linguistically, and generally confusing planet for the rest of my life.
I had no idea how much I would grow and change over the six months. How much I would not only grow to tolerate, but actually love my host family. How much I would learn to not just deal with the language barrier, but overcome it and renew my passion for decoding new languages. How when I exited Ecuador in April, the joy I imagined feeling at finally going home would be blighted with sadness, because I would be leaving a new home.
I’ve been helping my organization, Teach English Volunteer, quite a bit. Mostly, I’ve taken it upon myself to improve the application process and make things much more clear for potential volunteers. If you all knew how truly murky the details of what I’d be doing here in Ecuador were before I arrived, you’d probably be appalled that I took a leap of faith with such a young, disorganized volunteer program. But, all’s well that ends well, right?
Anyway, I’ve added more details to the website; created a volunteer blog so that people interested in coming can be reassured with the knowledge that there are real, live people volunteering with this organization; created an application (using http://www.zoho.com) for candidates to fill out- the results of which are automatically sent to the TEV email address that I check regularly; and I review these applications and schedule Skype interviews with candidates who sound promising. The truth is that I kind of love giving these Skype interviews.
Head’s up- this is a long post. But, I’ve been thinking about its contents for months and have been writing it for weeks, so you should read it 🙂
Before coming to Ecuador, I had some experience (exposure may be a better word) to school systems outside the US. There were the trips to Guamtemala City I first took as part of a youth group mission trip in 2004, then later on my own in 2007. I worked with YWAM and, among other tasks, did some teaching in a day-care and after-school tutoring program.
You may see some familiar faces here 🙂 In Guatemala City, 8 years ago.