“Ecuador- Ama la Vida” (Translated: “Ecuador – Love Life”) is one of the first things you see when you walk off of your airplane in Quito’s new (but small) airport and will continue to see throughout your travels in the city and beyond. This slogan represents the unique diversity of landscape, biology, buildings, places to eat, and people, among many other things.
During this trip, I have learned so much in a week, with just a few more days to go. Our group of 11 students has really worked together to get through each things that we faced. None of us are fluent in Spanish, so that is a huge part of our binding experience.
On our first day here, we were able to go to the middle of the world and stand on the Equator. Knowing you are standing in the center of the world makes you really think about what your place in the world is and how small of a portion of the world you live your daily life in. FUN FACT: We even learned that water drains opposite ways in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere. The Andes mountains are the perfect backdrop to all excursions. I’ve never walked among the clouds, but it has been a truly humbling experience.
Becoming Global Citizens as (mostly) Higher Education Master’s students has really happened in our visits to local schools and universities. The education system is set up similarly to the United States as it has Pre-School through Doctoral degrees. The differences come in the form of resources and government control and aid. Stay tuned for more about this in my reflection blog.
To follow-up with my goals set in my first blog, I have definitely been trying to break out of my shell a bit and learn more about my peers and their stories. This is definitely outside of my comfort zone and I am excited for relationships built while I have been here. I also tried fried Tilapia for the first time and Salsa dancing!
As for writing, I have been writing each time that I can, but there is always so much to do it has not been as comprehensive as I would have liked. I have however been collected “scraps” for a scrapbook of this trip, so that I have something to remember my first time abroad. Being immersed into Ecuadorian culture has opened my eyes to the struggles and successes of the people. It also has allowed me to holistically learn about the diversity within this small country. I am looking forward to learning more in the next few days before it is back to reality.
Look out for my reflection piece after my trip!
Candace Tulacz is a Master’s Student at Eastern Michigan University. She will start the second year of her program in Educational Leadership – Higher Education Student Affairs this coming Fall.