Monthly Archives: February 2013

Me . . . the Different One.


eggI am the different one in Ecuador.  So my question is, “What does it feel like to live as a minority on a daily basis?”  Well, it feels a lot like these pictures.  Kind of adventurous, kind of lonely, and kind of awkward.

My intention in this post is not to throw a “pity party” for myself.  However, my intention is to communicate what it feels like living as a minority and for many of us to (hopefully) open our hearts to those we interact with on a daily basis, who are considered minorities.

After living in Ecuador for almost six months, I believe I can speak about what it feels like to be a minority.  Not only do I look different; I think, cartoonact, and speak differently too.  In a recent post about the things I love about Riobamba, I wrote about how sometimes I feel like a celebrity from the attention I get because I look different.  In parenthesis, I added that I have a love/hate relationship with this fact.  When I walk down the street, people often stare at me.  When I walk into a store, sometimes I am the one that a child stares at.  When I am out in public, I am often told at a later time that someone who knows me saw me in the street – because I am that recognizable.  As a result of my cultural upbringing, I often do things differently or expect other people to act differently.  As a teacher, I usually think and teach differently because I am have lived in a different culture for 95% of my life.  Sometimes these events are really funny and sometimes they are eye-opening for everyone involved, but sometimes they are uncomfortable and make me feel sad.  So I begin to ask myself the following questions:

  • Is it a disadvantage to be in the minority?  If so, why?
  • Can there be positive aspect about being a minority? If so, what?
  • Do some people thrive in the minority? If so, who? (I’d like to meet them!)

In the interest of keeping this post short, I will spare you with long, detailed stories.  However, if you’d like to hear more from me directly, just let me know via email.  Needless to say, my experience thus far has proven to be difficult.  But to take a different spin on things, maybe it does not have to be as difficult, or as negative, as I make it out to be.  Maybe I am thinking into things too much.  Or . . . maybe I am solely looking at things from my perspective and there is another way to view the situation.  And maybe, just maybe, there is as way I can use my “minority status” in a positive way to serve and love others.  After all, when I had an opportunity to teach English to indigenous children, my appearance definitely got their attention because I looked markedly different than everyone else in the school.  Plus, they might have even learned a little bit more as a result. (I sure hope so!)

When I return to the U.S. in July, I ask myself, “How will my temporary experience as a minority change my perspective about those who are living in cultures where they are in the minority – either temporarily or permanently?”  I wonder how my perspective will be different in two specific areas.  One area is with people originating from other countries or cultures, and another is with students in my classroom who are considered minorities.  Will I have a different sense of empathy for each individual?  Will I identify with them from a heart level, instead of just from my head?  Will I love them differently?

Ok . . . you knew it was coming, so here is your part. 🙂  Seriously though, I desire to hear your perspective and what you think about minorities in your culture.  Please write a comment and share your heart with me about any of the following questions.

  • How do you view and treat minorities in your life?
  • What can you do differently today to treat minorities differently?
  • Am I being too analytical and serious with my perspective of what it feels like to be a minority? (I tend to over-think things!)
  • How can I use my “minority status” to serve others in positive and loving ways?

A Letter to my Dog


Dear Hannah,hannah

Hello my little friend.  How are you?  I hope you are having a great time at Christina, Tom, and Ian’s house.  I know they are treating you well and I hear that you love to go on walks with them – even in the freezing cold weather!  In this letter, I wanted to tell you a little bit about my time in Ecuador and let you know that I haven’t forgotten about you. 🙂

Since I have been here, I have seen something that I think you will find very interesting.  Oftentimes, dogs get leftover food from lunch for their meals . . . you would LOVE this!  That would mean you would get meat, bread, rice, vegetables, and everything else!  Crazy, huh?  With that being said, however, I still believe that your dog food is the healthiest thing for you – even though your stomach may not want to agree.

Many people have asked me why I didn’t bring you to Ecuador with me.  Even though I walk a lot . . . Ecuador would not be a good place for you.  Cars honk a lot, cars drive very fast, the weather changes multiple times throughout the day, and there is very little grass for you to sniff.  Believe it or not, most dogs go to the bathroom on the sidewalk – which is not your favorite thing to do,  I know.  Also, I am gone from the house a lot each day.  In the mornings, I am usually gone for 3 hours to learn Spanish.  And in the afternoon/evening, I am gone for 7 to 8 hours.  That would leave me very little time to spend with you.  Plus, there are a lot of fireworks in Riobamba and I know the noise would scare you.  Even though I would love to see you, walk with you, and pet you, I still believe that coming to Ecuador without you was the wisest decision.  My heart doesn’t like that, but I will get to see you soon, okay?

playaListen to this!  I went for a run last week and a dog bit my pants leg!  Can you believe that?!?  I was just running by and he ran up and bit my pants!  I couldn’t believe it!  I know you would never do something that, right?  Plus, then I had a strange dog’s slobber on my pants . . . gross!

A couple of weeks ago, I visited the beach!  Here is a picture of some of the friends who were at the beach with me.  Their names are Matt and Sarah.  I bet you would like them because they’re really nice people to hang out with.  Sarah and I went swimming in the ocean and played in the waves.  The waves were HUGE that day and it was fun to learn how to swim under the waves to avoid getting knocked down in the ocean.  Next, I tried boogie-boarding.  It was a great afternoon!

As I mentioned earlier in this letter, I am trying to learn Spanish.  Maybe you could ask Christina, Tom, and Ian to teach you a few Spanish words too.  That way, when I return to the U.S., I can give you commands in Spanish and you’ll understand.  You’re up for some new learning, right?  It will keep you young.  Plus, I strongly believe that you can teach an old dog new tricks!

Remember, I will be back in the U.S. at the beginning July.  I should be back for the Fourth of July, so we can celebrate Independence Day together.  In the meantime, know that I think of you often.   There are a lot of stray dogs here and whenever I see them, I always think of you and what a good friend you are to me.  Continue to have a great time in your new home and I will see you soon, ok?  Chao! (Hey – that can be your first Spanish word!  It means bye!)



(P.S. If you could write a letter to your pet – imaginary or real – what would you say?  Please write a comment to me!)

I love living in Riobamba because . . .


*people give me a kiss on the cheek when they greet me or say goodbye to me.

*when I am walking down the street, I often hear loud music coming from an assortment of stores.

*it is always an adventure when I go running.  Sidewalks have obstacles such as:

metal posts, deep holes, rocks, mud, dog poop, and trash.

*Ecuadorians take such pride in their family relationships that they often live with their parents until they get married.

*I can eat foods like habas and choclo anytime I want.

*most days, I can see beautiful views of Chimborazo and other surrounding mountains.

*I teach English to students from 8 – 45 years old (in different classes, of course).

*I can wear a t-shirt and sandals in February.

*my students love to learn English – on most days.

*a taxi ride is still $1.00.

*sometimes people treat me like a celebrity because I look different (I have a love/hate relationship with this one).

*tea seems to solve all illnesses – or at least many people think so.

*my students have such pride in their country that when a student was taking her oral exam and said that there

were no disadvantages to living in Ecuador, the rest of the class applauded.

*there are parades about once a week and no one seems to clearly know the meaning behind any of them.

*I can walk everywhere.

*the trash truck plays the music we know as the ice cream truck music.  This makes me laugh.

*it is not unusual for me to see horses, sheep, alpacas, pigs, dogs, and cows – in the same day.

*it is not uncommon to see people jump in church when they are singing.

*I can buy a bottle of Coke Zero for 64 cents.

*people strike up conversation with me often, just to be friendly.

*Ecuadorians love to eat ice cream – so it’s for sale everywhere.

*I can travel to the beach in about 4 hours.

*I have started to relax about being on time for things and am beginning to feel comfortable with

being 5 minutes late – even for class because my students aren’t there anyway!

*everyone comes home from work to eat lunch together – and then return to work in the afternoon.

So . . . what do you love about the city where you are living right now? 🙂

Post a comment and tell us two things you love about your city!