The time for traveling to Ecuador has approached faster than anticipated. For months it was off in the distance and now, I sit, ready to leave the airport for this new adventure. There are many aspects of Ecuador that I am ready to immerse myself in, some of which may present themselves as challenges.
The biggest obstacle that I can foresee is the language barrier. Although I’ve traveled plenty growing up, I’ve always spoken the native language of the area. Since Ecuador is a Spanish speaking country and the only Spanish I know is how to say hello and count to ten, I may be faced with difficulties in understanding the locals. There is always a lesson that can be learned however, whether it be through body language, articulation, or simply better listening skills. This hardship will also be lessened due to the group environment. The trip is a week-long program and as such, most of the day-to-day activities have been planned with this setup in mind. Hopefully this will allow any occurrences of miscommunications to be cleared up quickly.
My expectations of the country mostly surround those of growth. Some places that we will be visiting include: colonial Quito, Hummingbird Lodge, Cloud Forest, Canoa Yaku, and the Misahualli. In addition to the trips, there are also interactive experiences where we will get to partake in the practices of pottery and cocoa making. These two types of interactions will be beneficial in different ways. The visits will provide insights into local culture, biodiversity, and day-to-day Ecuadorian knowledge. The interactive experiences will, on the other hand, offer hands on learning experiences that work to deepen surface level knowledge.
Colonial Quito will be extremely educative as the city (and country) has a profound past filled with hardship and perseverance. Hummingbird Lodge, Cloud Forest, the Canoa Yaku, and Misahualli will focus on more of the environmental aspects that the country has to offer. My goals therefore, are to be as present-minded for these experiences and to focus on looking at the activities and sites through the eyes of an Ecuadorian local. This outlook will hopefully further not only my education, but my understanding of local ideals and traditions.
To sum up, I believe that this trip will add to my experience as a student in removing me from my comfort zone. Exploring the world is one of the most valuable teaching lessons and I’m lucky to be able to take advantage of it at such a young age.