My Ecuadorian Christmas

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go…even though it´s close to 100 degrees every day.

For the first time in 22 years I will be spending Christmas away from my family. This means that this year I will be missing out on Christmas staples like ABC Family’s “25 Days of Christmas,” Aunt Pat K’s famous pumpkin roll, the annual tradition of baking cookies with my mom and sister, decorating and snow-shoveling with my dad, Christmas Eve with the Bakers and Christmas Day with the Zaderas, and so much more. In some ways, my Ecuadorian Christmas season has turned out to be slightly similar. Several houses around the neighborhood have put up lights, we have been playing Christmas music in the house since the beginning of December, and my parents even sent me a can of pumpkin so that I can make pumpkin bread like Pat K’s. We have put up a humble tree in our house, strung together as much tinsel as the past volunteers have left us, and have carried the tradition of baking Christmas cookies. However, this year the songs aren’t always in English, the tree isn’t as big, the lights aren’t as abundant, I can’t find nutmeg for the pumpkin bread, and instead of sharing Christmas cookies with my family, I will be sharing them with my community mates and neighbors.

            Taking all of these things into consideration, this Christmas season is recognizably different from any Christmas I’ve had in the past, and yet somehow I feel that I have never felt the so-called “Christmas spirit” more than I have this year. Maybe the 100 degree heat is making me insane, but despite being thousands of miles away from my family, friends, and all of the thinks that usually signify Christmas to me, I find myself feeling a strong sense of joy. This year, this sense of joy does not come from receiving, it does not come from lights and decoration, and it is not the same feeling of joy that comes from spending time with my family and friends. It is a joy born out of humility; the humility of knowing that for the past 21 years of my life, I have had the greatest opportunities anyone could ask for, and realizing that my neighbors, who this year I call my family, will not be having a Christmas like I have know it all my life. In Mount Sinai, there won’t be an abundance of presents crammed underneath the tree, and in some cases there isn’t even the promise of money for a family to be able to prepare a special dinner to celebrate Christmas. But there is family, and there is community.

            This past Saturday, walking around the dirt roads of Sinai showed several street parties organized by each neighborhood in order to give out toys to kids who lived in the neighborhoods. In some cases the toys have been donated by foundations or stores in the area, and in other cases the communities in these neighborhoods have come together to buy them. Our very own sector had a bingo in October to raise money to be able to buy Christmas gifts for the kids in the neighborhood. Here, more so than the acts of giving and receiving is the act of a group of people, living in poverty, coming together to do the best that they can do for the children, because they recognize that there is not a child in the world that deserves to not feel the spirit of Christmas every year.

            For many years I have seen acts of collections and donations for those in need during holiday seasons. This year, however, I am seeing it all from a different perspective. This year all of the collections and donations are sent to people like my neighbors here in Sinai – my family – which has been what has made this year’s Christmas so notably different than every year in the past. In talking with one of our neighbors earlier last week, I learned that their family didn’t even have enough money to have a special dinner on Christmas day, let alone buy toys or other special things for their more than seven young children. After hearing this, I have felt a special connection to this particular family this Christmas – a yearning to do something for them. And so I find myself asking, “What can I do for them?” and “How can I help them?” The truth is, however, that I’m not going to do anything for them. I’m not going help them do anything. But today, December 24th, I will spend the majority of my day visiting with them and other neighbors, spending quality time with them, sharing stories and laughter, and situating myself right here with them this Christmas. We’ll walk around sharing Christmas cookies with those who have made our first five months in Ecuador so extremely special, and they will probably make us feel more at home here than we normally do at our own homes in the U.S. Without a doubt this will be one of the most uniquely special Christmases of my life, and for that I am completely thankful. I am thankful for the laughs and smiles of the kids in our neighborhood, I am thankful for the neighbors who make us feel so welcome and share their stories with us, I am thankful for the thirteen other Rostro de Cristo volunteers with whom I’ll be spending Christmas day, and I am thankful for the experience to share this Christmas with those who often go forgotten in this world. All I ask today is that my neighbors – my family – are thought of and remembered. I am sending lots of love and thoughts to my family and friends in the U.S., and I thank you all so much for all of the support you’ve given me. I will miss sharing Christmas with you all so much this year, but I’m doing great and will be celebrating the best I can with the best people I know. Best wishes and a Merry Christmas to you all!!

 Ryan

Da Strength of Street Knowledge

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One of our first nights in Ecuador, we were eating dinner with the outgoing volunteers. They shared with us a tradition that they typically do with retreat groups where they each go around and tell an embarrassing story that happened to them during their time in Ecuador. They encouraged us to take chances and to lean into our discomforts, with the ultimate goal being to have stories to tell about our embarrassing, yet formative, moments to illuminate our time in Ecuador.  This past week, I think I found my first story. It all started two weeks ago on a Friday. As I was leaving the office for the day, I gave my compañeros an “hasta Lunes,” assuring them that I would see them at the usual time on Monday. Just after that, I heard my boss Carlos say, “Ryan, en Lunes tenemos (really really fast Spanish). ¿Quieres?” Everything I understood from this was, “Ryan, we have (insanely fast Spanish). Want to come?” “Sure,” I said, having absolutely no idea to what I had agreed. They proceeded to tell me that we would meet at la Entrada de la 8, about a 25 minute bus ride from our house, at 7:30 in the morning, and that I should bring a hat and sun block. It is not uncommon for me to travel with my office mates to walk around the sectors, so I figured this is what we would be doing. Monday morning came; I woke up at 6:30, put on my Hogar t-shirt, and packed my Ecua-bag with my hat, water bottle, a notebook, and a pen. I got on the bus shortly after 7am, slightly frustrated at not really understanding where I was going. I arrived to the Entrada shortly after 7:30 and saw my compañero Alexis, who was not wearing a Hogar shirt and had a bag with him. I figured we might be going to a legislative meeting or something, since they usually are not supposed to wear their Hogar shirts when they travel there with community members. I asked him where we were going. His response translated to, “I’m not really sure. I could be close, it could be far.” Leave it to the Ecuadorians to be insanely detailed and descriptive. We met up with our other compañera, Olinda, and walked across the street to where the Hogar de Cristo volunteers live. When we arrived, we found a van filled with other workers from Hogar, as well as Luis, the director of Hogar, who were all without Hogar t-shirts.

We had been driving for about twenty-five minutes, and had just turned onto a highway with which I had not yet been familiar. Olinda looked over at me and asked me what I had brought with me, to which a responded, “A hat and a water bottle.” She then said, “¿no traigaste pantalonetas de bañarse?” After a few moments of trying to figure out why on earth I would need special pants to go to the bathroom, I figured out what she meant and I responded, “No, I didn’t bring a bathing suit…” Much to my surprise, we were going on an office field trip to the beach, and to say the least, I couldn’t have been more unprepared, nervous of how long I would be there, and upset that I didn’t just ask Carlos for clarification that previous Friday when he told me where we were going. Despite all of this, I forced myself to clear my mind of all of these hesitations, and realize that I should be taking advantage of my first travel opportunity in Ecuador. We arrived to the beach town called Las Playas after about an hour and a half. We spent the morning on a Dolphin-watch boat tour, and in the afternoon I borrowed Carlos’s shorts and went swimming in the Pacific Ocean. It was an awesome experience that I had in no way expected. I arrived back at the Sinaí house that night shortly after 7pm. My community mates could not have been more surprised with how I had spent my day.

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This past weekend Jessica, David, and I were fortunate enough to go on a retreat with all of the Proyecto Salesiano volunteers of Ecuador. These volunteers,  which consist of both extranjeros and internos, volunteer at locations similar to Casa Don Bosco, where Jessica, David, I volunteer. Extranjero refer to volunteers, like Jessica, David, and me, who have come from other countries. Interno, on the other hand, refers to Ecuadorian volunteers who, for the most part, have recently graduated high school and have chosen to volunteer for a year working with the Proyecto Salesiano. The three of us, along with three European volunteers and four interno Ecuadorian volunteers, traveled to Santa Domingo, Ecuador to represent the Guayaquil sector of Proyectos Salesianos. This was the first year that the Rostro de Cristo volunteers were invited to attend one of these retreats, which very much humbled me and made me grateful for the opportunity to attend. The ten volunteers, accompanied by Padre Paco, the director of both the Guayaquil sector of Proyecto Salesiano and all of the Proyectos Salesianos in all of Ecuador, left from Guayaquil around 6pm on Friday night, and arrived in Santa Domingo by midnight. Santa Domingo is on the edge of the Ecuadorian Sierra, which offered us wonderful views of lush green mountains and proved to be a nice change of scenery from the dirt roads and desert terrain that we are used to in Sinaí.

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Overall, I found the retreat to be an incredibly rewarding experience. We were fortunate enough to meet volunteers from all over the world who were working in other parts of Ecuador in similar settings. The most rewarding part for me, however, was meeting the Ecuadorian volunteers. I was constantly surprised, impressed, and humbled by how wise they were, how much regard they have for the boys of the streets with whom they work, the bond they have between each other as fellow volunteers, as well as their overall exuberance and enthusiasm for life. Often times I was at a loss for words as a result of these realizations, and all I can do was smile at how incredible they are at such a young age. The spirit that lived within these boys follows the pedagogy of Don Bosco of the Salesianos. Don Bosco exemplified his beliefs that everyone should be treated with love, and that life should be treated as an experience, meaning that one should be intentional in every moment and take advantage of opportunities. This is a mentality that I hope to be able to adopt throughout the rest of my time in Ecuador, as well as every endeavor that the future will bring.

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On the last day of the retreat, I was fortunate enough to spend my 22nd birthday with the Proyecto Salesiano community. The first time they sang happy birthday to me was at breakfast, and the second time was at the end of mass, which consisted of Spanish, English, and German versions of the song. The third time they sang happy birthday to me was right after lunch as Padre Paco put a huge cake down on the table in front of me. After rapid encouragement for me to blow out the candles, the celebration continued in true Ecuadorian style with my face [unwillingly] being pushed into the cake…twice (the second was thanks to David). As much as it sucked to have my face and glasses covered with cake and icing, I wouldn’t have wanted my Ecuadorian birthday to be any other way. After lunch, we quickly packed up all of our belongings, and were taken on a paseo (short field trip). We drove deeper into the Sierra, surrounded by jungle and mountains, and eventually arrived at an Ecuadorian version of a swimming club amidst the mountains and jungles. The swimming pools, soccer fields, and tikki style huts were sculpted out of the Sierra terrain that surrounded it, giving the feeling of being on an island in the middle of the mountains. I was such a perfect place to spend an hour swimming and hanging out with the people who I had gotten to know better over this weekend. After this, all of the volunteers left to return to their specific cities, and our Guayaquil group set out for another five hour drive back to Guayaquil. As we arrived into the city, Padre Paco stopped at Pizza Hut (yeah, Pizza Hut) and bought us all pizza – the one thing that I have really been missing and talking about so much in Ecuador – and sang me happy birthday for the fourth time. I literally could not have asked for anything more. But I got it. We arrived at Casa Don Bosco around 10pm, and waited for a few moments for our fellow Sinaí volunteers to pick us up and take us back home. Much to my surprise, Nalleli, Eva, Michele, and Zach drove through the gate in Big Blue (our van), which was decorated on the inside with streamers hanging from the ceiling and a “Feliz Cumpleaños Ryan!” sign in the windows. The four of them opened the door of the van, kicking out balloons, carrying my favorite Ecuadorian cake, and singing. I was insanely spoiled on my birthday, and I loved every moment of it, as much as I tried to make it not a big deal. This has been one of the best birthdays of my life, thanks to the awesome people that make up my Ecuadorian community.

Enjoy las fotos!

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Mas de una Casa, un Hogar

The title of this blog post is the moto of my worksite, Hogar de Cristo, and translates to “more than a house, a home.” The past few weeks in Ecuador have proved that this statement does not simply act as a clever catch phrase of the place in which I volunteer, but also serves as yet another “mission statement” for the service I have done already in Ecuador, as well as the service I will continue to do. To me, a house is a place in which one lives. It is a dwelling, a series of rooms, y un lugar para moradores.  A home, however, is a place in which a person, often a family, has made their own, complete with personal touches of their lives that make the place particularly special for them. Additionally, a home often involves sentiments of transition, transformation, growth, and support. This definition has greatly begun to characterize my time in Ecuador so far, both literally and figuratively.

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Over the past month and a half, I have created my own home in the Rostro de Cristo house. I have set up my room with little pieces of home and mementoes from friends, while also incorporating some little things that I have acquired here in Ecuador. Also, quite literally, I have watched and helped a close neighbor build his family’s new home (picture above). From the foundation to the cane structure and the brick bathroom, I have seen memories made, relationships built, and love shown through the faces of a father, his wife, and children. These literal constructions of a home have made it easier to recognize that figurative ways in which I have begun to feel at home in Ecuador. I have begun to build relationships with neighbors and other members of the community, I have struggled and succeeded (failing often, however) with learning Spanish, and have established a weekly schedule that has allowed me to feel as if I am an active member of my community through my work sites and time spent with neighbors.

Last week I traveled through the sectors with my co-worker Alexis. We ended up walking around the sector surrounding the Rostro de Cristo house, visiting neighbors that I, both, have and have not already met. For the neighbors that I had not yet had the opportunity to meet, it felt great to be able to tell them that I was a Rostro de Cristo volunteer, and for them to understand that I am living in the same community as them and am as invested as my situation allows me to be in the community in which we are living together. For those that I have already met, I felt proud to show off to my co-worker that I had already built some form of relationship with the person with whom we were meeting, while also having my community see me active in my Hogar de Cristo role.

While I have been moderately active in my role as a volunteer at Hogar, I have also been receiving a lot of life from being a volunteer at Casa Don Bosco, despite the fact that I am only there for a few hours each week. My drum students didn’t show up this week, so I got to spend some time guitar instead which was really great. I spent most of the time tuning the guitars, but I was deeply impressed at the level of talent of some of the students, while also equally impressed with the drive to learn of the students who weren’t so great. The best part of my time at Don Bosco this week was walking to the bus after school with my fellow volunteer Jessica and a bunch of the Don Bosco chicos. The boys are so funny and so badass for their age, yet they are equally filled with love and huge hearts. Walking them to the bus often involves juggling holding hands with a couple of them while pulling other kids apart as they instigate, fight, and curse at each other. It’s quite an interesting sight to see and be a part of, but this past week it brought the biggest smile to my face. In the upcoming weeks, I’m hoping to be able to alter my schedule slightly so that it would allow me to arrive at Casa Don Bosco for lunch and hang out with the boys for the rest of the afternoon up until my music class.

This past Sunday the community organized and held a Bingo in benefit of San Felipe Nerí, a school in our neighborhood where Zach and Nalleli teach. There seemed to be nearly 500 people at the Bingo, which was held at the largest church (Corpus Christi) in the parish, outside under the smoldering Ecuadorian sun. After nearly 5 hours outside, I became as dark as an Ecuadorian – almost. Anyway, it was great to see a lot of the community out together supporting a school at which their children attend classes every day and mass Sunday mornings. The manner in which the community came together to support San Felipe was incredibly. There were many families who were selling food that they were cooking right there on the spot, other families making juice to sell, and other community members who were just there to have a good time. As a result of the sweltering sun that I mentioned earlier, families who were fortunate enough to have tents put them up quickly, while others fashioned together a network of tarps connected with hair clips and string, and held up by large sticks of bamboo at certain points. There was one man who sat with a stick of bamboo, angled from the ground up towards a tarp in the air, between his legs for the entire duration of the Bingo, in order to keep nearly a hundred people under cover from the sun. This, to me, was a quite literal representation of how much the community members, overall, are invested in supporting the community in which they live in order to improve their lives in whatever way they possibly can. Not everyone had a tent to shield themselves from the sun, but everyone did absolutely the best that they could, and gave the best that they could, with the resources they had, which is the best definition of Monte Sinaí that I can give at this moment.

In other news, I have been doing a great amount of reading in my free time. I have read five books so far, the last two of which were the first two of the Harry Potter saga. I started the series a little more than ten years late, but I am enjoying every moment of embracing my inner tween.

I think that is all for now. Thanks to all who have been writing! The love and support is much appreciated. Enjoy the pics from the Bingo, below! Peace and love, como siempre.Image

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One Month Down!

Bless me Father for I have sinned, it has been two weeks since my last blog post.

I have recently finished reading Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, a book that I had received in January as a gift. I attempted to read the book a few times, but it never really kept my attention enough to continue reading it. The book is a true life account of a man named John Perkins, whose profession during the 1970s and 1980s was acting as a so-called “Economic Hit Man.” EHMs, as Perkins refers to them, work for “private” U.S. organizations that travel to developing countries and convince them to take a large loan from the U.S. that the country can put towards infrastructure development, thus allowing them to enter the global economy of trade. This book perked my interests, as a result of my major in economics and plans to spend time in Latin America, so I decided to bring it along with me to Ecuador. I was surprised to read that Perkins actually spent time volunteering in Ecuador in the late 1960s, and that this experience would impact his future decision to leave his career as an EHM. Perkins discusses various countries, including Panama, Saudi Arabia, and Ecuador, and states how he presented them with over-optimistic forecasting analyses, that would result from the U.S. loan. The catch, however, is that the country will never be able to repay the debt, resulting in future indebtedness to the U.S., upon which the U.S. can call whenever it best suits them. Perkins explains a lot of this in terms of Ecuador and its current level of poverty, which resulted from one of these loan agreemens with the U.S. Perkins also refers to the death of President Jaime Roldós in the 1980s, in which he hints the U.S. had involvement. Perkins has a very shocking line in a later section of the book that describes the period of time after September 11, 2001, during which the U.S. was faced with a decision oh where they would obtain their supply of oil. They could no longer take oil from Venezuela due to disagreements with Húgo Chávez, nor could they take it from Iraq. Perkins states how it was was then time for “the U.S. to take it´s pound of flesh from Ecuador.” It has been very surreal to read parts of this book while living in the similar poverty Perkins described, and experiencing the effects of the U.S.´s loan agreement with Ecuador. This has been giving context to a lot of what I have been experiencing here in Ecuador, while also giving me a fair amount upon which to contemplate regarding foreign relations.

In addition to this, I have been spending a great amount of time with neighbors in our community of Monte Sinaí. There are a few neighbors that have tiendas that I pass every day on my walk home from the bus, and seeing their smiles and having short conversations with them has been a fulfilling way to decompress after tiring days at my work sites. Recently, I have been spending a lot of time, along with a few of my community mates, with our neighbor who is building a new cane house (Pic Below!). For the past few days we have been laying the foundation for the house, which requires one meter deep of rocks and dirt. Sometime this week we will begin digging for the stilts upon which the house will sit, and then ultimately building the house! It has been one of my life goals for the past few years to build a house, and I am so happy to be able to do it here while lending a hand to a neighbor for who I am extremely thankful. He and his family, have been extremely welcoming, understanding during our time of transition, and at times just people to laugh with.

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In other news, the Superial General of the Jesuits came to Hogar de Cristo on Tuesday to say mass. I was asked to play the guitar in the choir, during which I met a lot of awesome kids and adults. Playing in the choir has been a little confusing, because instead of saying guitar chords like “C, D, E,” they say “Do, Re, Me,” which I am trying to get used to. But, I did meet a little boy who loves The Beatles, Nirvana, Led Zeppelin, Metallica, and more as much as I do, which was so awesome to find in a small town in Ecuador! Also, last night we went to our first Bingo Bailable, which is when the community comes together to play bingo and dance. It was awesome!

I believe this is all for now, but there will be much more to come soon! Peace!

A Typical Week / Current Events

I am quickly coming to the end of my first solo week in Ecuador. The old volunteers have taught us all that they could, and left us feeling very prepared and eager to take on Ecuador. I have adapted quickly to my new schedule here in Ecuador, which consists of going to both of my work sites, spending time with the community in Mount Sinai, and fulfilling my duties around the house. 

Each morning, I take my walk to the bus, dodging chickens and stray dogs along the way. Before getting on the bus, I grab some bread from a Panaderia (bakery). Once a bus comes, I hop on – the bus drivers never come to a full stop for men – and make my way to Hogar de Cristo. It´s about a 15 minute ride to Hogar, after which I have a 5 minute walk around the compound to my office. I have spent a majority of this weekr eading the development plan for this area of Guayaquil, which hasgiven me great background on the area, as well as how they are trying to develop themselves. 

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I leave Hogar around 1:30 to take the 40 minute bus ride to Casa Don Bosco. I have been helping out in the music class this week, teach little chicos how to play the drums, which is pretty hilarious to watch. After music class, my compañera Jessica and take the bus back to Monte Sinai. Monday was our night to cook for the 7 of us, as well as my first time cooking Ecua food. We made Sango, which is a dish made of blended plantanes, peppers, onions, and a peanut paste called mani. That is served with rice, and has become my favorite meal in Ecuador. Back in the states, I would usually get mad when I burned rice, but here the embrace it and I have grown to love it!

A big topic in Monte Sinai over the past several months is the desalojados, or evictions. As of now, Monte Sinai is technically illegal ground, also known as an invasion community. There is no running water, and electricity is stolen from a nearby military base. Before we arrived in Ecuador, the area fell victim to the government as several hundred families were forcibly removed from the area. The most recent news this week is that the government will most likely be legalizing certain areas of the land, about 600 hectares, which will ¨benefit¨about 1,600 families. I say benefit in quotes because I am still unclear as to what the ultimate effects will be on the community and the people. There are many questions surrounding this topic. On Wednesday, I went with two of my coworkers from Hogar to visit a committee in a nearby community to discuss the possible effects of the legalization. It is a tricky topic to, and something I am eager to read and learn more about, which I am hopeful that I will have the opportunity to do in the Community Organizing office of Hogar de Cristo. 

Funny piece of info: peole here have been calling my ¨Soldando Ryan,¨ which derives from the Spanish translation of the movie ¨Saving Private Ryan.¨ The don´t have the name Ryan here, but they love that movie so that is how I have been getting people to learn. 

Thanks for reading! Until next time!

First week in Ecuador

Today officially marks my first full week in Ecuador. It has been such a pleasure to have been taken around the cities of Guayaquil and Duran with the outgoing volunteers, and having them show us the community they have built with the Ecuadorians. Although this country is completely new to me, I am beginning to feel right at home, especially in my Mount Sinai community. The last week has been jam-packed with work site visits, meeting new neighbors, learning about the culture, and of course rice – lots and lots of rice.

The past two days have been spent discerning, as a community, as to what our individual work site placements will be. After a fair amount of discernment, both individual and in community, I have come to the decision that I will be working with the Mission office of Hogar de Cristo in Mount Sinai. Hogar de Cristo is a non-profit community development/organizing office that has been in Ecuador for more than 40 years. They have helped to develop housing services, micro-credit programs, health services, and many more community services for the extremely poor. At my new volunteer role in this office, I will hopefully given the opportunity to go out into the community and undertake a project that coincides with my interests and learning goals of the Mount Sinai community. I am extremely excited for this position, and I am incredibly hopefully for what I will learn from this year as a result. Tomorrow I will go to Hogar with my new compañero Miguel, who has been a Hogar volunteer for the last year. He will show me what´s up with Hogar Thursday and Friday, and Monday I will begin the placement on my own. Additionally, I have made the decision to spend a few days a week at another placement called Casa Don Bosco. Don Bosco encorporates an old program called Chicos de la Calle, which offers education, trade, and independence services for boys that would otherwise be living on the streets as a result of their economic or home situations. My community mate Jessica will have this as her primary work site, but I will be fortunate enough to accompany her a few days a week.

 

Additional thoughts – I have become very good pals with our guard dog Clubber. I started writing him songs and singing them to him. He´s a huge rotwiler (idk how to spell that). I am so excited for the year to come, and am so happy to call Ecuador my home for the next year. I will try to keep this updated as often as I can!

 

Paz y Amor!

Almost There!

We have just returned from a two-day silent retreat out at the University of Scranton’s retreat house on Chapman Lake. Initially I was pretty excited with the idea of a silent retreat. A relaxing couple of days on a lake, with no requirements to speak to anyone, sounded like the perfect opportunity to relax and process after having my mind filled with information stated in the previous blog post. It only took about twelve hours before I had my first conversation with a tree… Just kidding. Or am I? (Sometimes I don’t even know) Anyway, I spent a majority of the past couple days reflecting on who my role models have been throughout my life, as well as what traits they exemplified that had made such a profound impact on me. Initially, the first image that came to mind was Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott dressed as a Minotaur (best movie of our generation?).

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Following this image, humor, intelligence, and real-life experience were answers that quickly came to mind. After further reflection, however, I realized that it was the individuals who spent personal time with me, who truly believed in me, and who had stood up for what they believed in that made the deepest impact – an impact so great that I subconsciously made the decision to adapt those traits in order to take a piece of them with me and share it with others throughout my life. This is another example of something(s) that I am hoping will stick with me throughout my time in Ecuador. 

In other news, I leave for Ecuador in three days. 3 days. Tres dias. Whichever way I chose to say it, it’s quickly approaching. Tuesday morning, my Rostro community-mates will depart from the University of Scranton and proceed to Ecuador. The day that all fourteen of us have been anticipating for months will absolutely be bittersweet as we say farewell to the JVC-international volunteers, with whom we have all become such dear friends. We will arrive in Ecuador in the late evening, and will be greeted by the current volunteers, after which we will undergo ten more days of in-country orientation with the current volunteers. I can’t wait to meet the people I’ve heard so much about, and have them show us what they’ve been getting into for the past year or so. During these ten days, we will tour our possible work-sites, which we will choose, as a community, at some point soon after in-country orientation. 

I’m not sure when I will be able to make another post, so I wanted to make sure I got something out to all of you nerds. 

Closing thoughts: I just started reading John Perkins “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.” One of the first country’s he talks about is Ecuador, so I’m pretty excited to keep reading. 

Peace dudes, from Monte Sinai!

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