Thoughts from Ecuador

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Meet my “host nephew” Gabrielito. He is so much fun! How could you resist this face? Muy guapo, si?

I noticed it’s been awhile since I’ve posted thoughts about my time in Ecuador.  I know I’ve recently written about a couple of great trips I’ve taken, but that’s just “stuff,” not what is really going on inside of me.  So . . . here you go – your glimpse inside my head and heart.  Proceed with caution. 🙂

I have been in Ecuador for a little over 8 weeks . . . that is a long time!  It’s hard to imagine that it’s been about two months since I’ve seen family, friends, my dog . . . and been able to drive.  While I miss those aspects of my life, my brain has been working to try to make sense of my current life and the new experiences here.  It’s strange being in a place where I feel comfortable and life feels familiar because of my routines, but yet it is all so unfamiliar at the same time.  Most everything is new and I’m not sure my brain knows how to process all of this yet.

I was thinking the other night about how I got here.  Meaning, how I got to the point in my life where I wanted to live in another country for an extended period of time.  Here’s the brief overview.  After visiting Central America several times in the past few years, I started to notice a passion inside of me for the Latin American culture and the possibility of using my teaching experience to educate those in need.  This past spring, God placed it heavily on my heart that now was the time to follow this passion.  So, I did . . . and, here I am . . . living in Ecuador.  (By the way, the decision wasn’t quite that easy, but I just wanted to give you the brief overview, remember?)

Someone asked me the other day if Riobamba feels like home yet and my answer was no.  That made me wonder what it takes for a place to feel like home.  I like the city, my Ecuadorian family is wonderful, and the school where I’ll be teaching seems great.  But, I don’t wake up with warm and fuzzy feelings as if this is my home.  Then I wonder, did I wake-up with those feelings in St. Louis?  I don’t know.  Do you?  In Riobamba, I feel comfortable, cared for, and safe, but it is not home . . . yet.  So, that leaves me thinking that I am not sure what it really takes for a place to feel like home.  Does it happen in 10 months?  It that an unrealistic hope?  What does it really take to call a place home?

And . . . how does living in a country that speaks another language fit into all of this?  Gratefully, I do feel like my Spanish has improved since I’ve been in Ecuador.  At the same time, however, Spanish has been hard for me lately.  I don’t feel like I am learning much Spanish during my weekly lessons and have realized that I need to be challenged differently.  With that being said, I am planning on finding a new Spanish teacher and hope for a positive change.  Obviously, when there is a communication barrier in any scenario, it can be difficult to connect and feel like you are valued . . . because you really aren’t sure.  So, now I wonder if strengthening my communciation is one of the key components to Riobamba feeling like home.

And, to conclude . . . I begin teaching on Monday.  Wow . . . it’s hard to imagine that the time is finally here!  After a month of orientation and a month of observing other teachers, the first day of classes is so close!  I am excited . . . and nervous.  I have been assigned to teach Level 7 English classes.  At my school, there are 8 levels (plus a few additional methodology classes), so this means that the students in my classes should be rather proficient with English.  At some point after I get into the teaching routine, I’ll let you know how things are going.

I know this post was long.  Thanks for sticking with me.  As you may have realized, I have a lot of thoughts bouncing around in my head these days.  If you have any advice to share with me about my time here, I would love to hear from you.  Hasta luego mis amigos!

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6 responses »

  1. Hi Rachael! I miss you but I am so excited for you to begin teaching. I love how smart you are…when something isn’t working out (spanish teacher), you find a solution quickly. I admire your ability to try new things. Remember how many people are supporting you and who love you! I think about you often! xoxo

  2. To quote Pliney the Elder, “Home is where the heart is”. I think it has a lot to do with relationships, routine also plays a part, but mostly to do with where your heart is at in life (is that even a grammatically correct sentence?). Where is your heart these days? Is it focused on a person(s), a place, or a thing? I think about how Paul traveled around the entire world in the Book of Acts but seemed to feel comfortable or at home no matter where he was – even in prison. Was it because his relationship with Christ was really that strong? Not sure. I think it is both cool and courageous to follow the promptings that God places on your heart. Can you see why He called you over there? Maybe pieces of the picture? How has it changed your relationship with God? Or has it? Keep me posted, hugs, Rob 🙂

  3. Hola Rachael! I will be thinking of you next week when you begin teaching. I really feel you are there for a purpose, so perhaps when you start teaching you will feel more “at home”. Let us know how the new spanish teacher works out. I am struggling with my lessons, but I refuse to give up:)
    Perhaps Ann wishes I would!:-) Kathy

  4. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! It’s always good to hear from you… Susana sends her greetings as well!

    I wouldn’t worry too much about whether you feel at “home” in Riobamba. I don’t know if I could answer whether I feel completely at “home” here after 8 months. But I’m glad you feel comfortable and cared for, and I think as you continue to settle in, start teaching, and establish and deepen relationships, your confidence and sense of belonging and connection will continue to grow.

    Anyway, take care and best of luck with your classes! I’m sure you’ll be fantastic!

    P.S. Gabrielito is absolutely adorable…

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