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Another Adventure

Soy Normal!

ECUADOR | Friday, 10 January 2014 | Views [370]

Well, it’s our last full day in Cuenca and our last class period of the trip. I only have one week left in Ecuador! When signing up for this trip at the last minute in October, I would have never guessed that my experience would have been quite like this. Sure, I had generalized Ecuador to be like Mexico and other countries that I had heard about in the news, but I didn’t come into this with all that many expectations. I didn’t know anything about Ecuador. By taking this class, not only was I able to learn about the economy, healthcare, education, and migration in Ecuador, but I was also able to observe and get to know some of the people on a personal level. They changed my perspective and my life.

Today’s lecture on education finished up a series of talks about Ecuador as a country. I cannot even begin to say how much I loved and appreciated all of them. These lectures made Ecuador not only a country to visit, but also a place where people live, work and go to school. It really added a human component to this whole trip. Like I mentioned in previous blogs, as American, we get this distorted view of the rest of the world. With short J-term study abroad programs especially, we start to think of the rest of the world as a showcase. Other countries are places we need to see and experience. It’s fine for us to take pictures, act like Americans, and do whatever we want because we can. We’re Americans.

With that said, I feel like this trip has been very different than previous study abroad trips I’ve been on. We live in houses with people from Ecuador. We go out for drinks on Friday nights with our Ecuadorian friends. We experience them at CEDEI, in the hospitals, in the schools, and in the restaurants. We’ve been living amidst the people and we have been forced to see what their lives are really like, what their "normal" is.

Through this experience, I have really been able to redefine what normal is. I usually think of normal in terms of myself and compare everyone else to that standard. However, as I was sitting with my professor, Marianne, today, I had yet another eye opening experience. I asked what she thought I could do to make my video better. She answered that she thought the middle section was a bit judgey. This comment really shocked me, as I was convinced that I had it all figured out. Judgey? After thinking about this for a while and talking it through with Marianne I came to a realization: I was still on my “normal” standard. Sure, it’s pretty usual for humans to think of situations in relation to our own lives, but that doesn’t make it right. Most of the people here in Ecuador are content with their lives. They’re happy with their standards of living, just as I am happy with mine. Making generalizations about any group of people is not only naïve, but it is indeed judgey. I know I still have a lot thinking to do on the subject, but this is certainly a start.

My mind has definitely been expanded with this experience. Ecuador has given me a new perspective of the world, and has definitely helped to strengthen my beliefs. I’ve gained a plethora of new information, all while experiencing God’s beauty and majesty. I can’t think of any better ways to be spending my J-term.




Note: The title is a result of "soy" jokes. Soy in Spanish means "I am", so naturally we add it before words to make phrases sound cooler. For example, if you think that something is cool, you could say "soy awesome!" It really adds a whole new dimention to the phrase. Plus, if you're around Spanish speakers, they'll either think you're hilarious or ridiculous, and I readily accept both reactions. (Credit: Kelsey Thomas)

Tags: last day, normal, real, soy

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