Since returning to the United States, life has returned to “normal”. I have spent the last month working, in meetings, and hanging out with friends in my free time, which is the typical agenda of my life. I think that is one of the hardest things that I have had to deal with since coming back: everything here is so routine. In Ecuador, everything was so new for me, and I was constantly excited to be doing new things and challenged by all of the different things that I was encountering. I guess that it is very easy to step outside of your routine when you are in a new country with different customs and a different native language, and I definitely find myself missing that a lot. Another aspect of returning to America that I have struggled with is getting caught up in my schedule and all of the little things that are going on around me. When we were in Ecuador, we were so laid back and focused on the important things: communicating with one another, volunteering at the school, trying new things, etc. I feel like my mind has been on overload since I have been back and so often I find myself thinking about things that are so insignificant in the grand scheme of things. I was very worried that I would return to LSU and not be able to “make a difference” or feel as satisfied as I did after returning from Ecuador. Luckily, I had the opportunity this summer to serve as a Parent Orientation Leader and put so many of my new and enhanced skills to use. I am leaving the orientation experience knowing that I did my best, and I (hopefully) helped parents and families adjust to their students’ transition to college as well as easing their own fears about the big changes going on in their own households.
After reading the article, there were two statements that really left a mark on me. “Talent is universal, but opportunity is not.” I reread this quote after I saw it the first time because it was so remarkable , and when I think about our experience in Ecuador, I could not agree more with this statement. It is so true that the family, country, or situation that we are born into defines our lives. It can be a blessing for some and unfortunate for others, and it all depends on things that we cannot control. We met some incredible people in Ecuador, especially at the school that we were volunteering at. It hurts sometimes to realize the privilege that I have been given throughout my life and then wonder why the kids or the teachers at that school were not given the life that I was. Frankly, it is not very fair, but they always say that life is not fair. However, what is fair is that we all have the capacity to care and love one another, and this thought is perfectly summed up by the second quote from the article: “compassion shouldn’t depend, one way or the other, on the color of one’s skin.” That is the most important lesson that I learned from my time in Ecuador, and it is something that I hope to hold onto for the rest of my life. The kids and teachers looked different than us, and we spoke different languages; however, that did not stop us from showing an immense amount of love to each other. I left that school in tears because I realized how much the teachers and kids actually cared about us and how much we cared about them. I never wanted to leave because I had never felt love that strong before. When leaving for Ecuador, I was hoping that we could go in and impact the lives of the Ecuadorian people, but I never thought about how much they would impact our lives. I will always be thankful for this experience, and I sincerely hope that I can end up back in Ecuador some day. One last time: #GeauxEcuador