Being Grateful Abroad
Written by Sydney Thompson (current WorldTeach Ecuador volunteer)
Hola readers, ¿cómo están? I’ve now been here for a little over two months! I still feel surprised every morning when I realize that I’m in Quito, Ecuador. Every day brings new challenges, opportunities, and experiences (both good and bad). Sometimes I don’t feel like I’m flowing like water — I feel like I’m flowing like sludge. I’ve had moments where I asked myself what the heck I’m doing here. When the washer machine is too hard on my clothes, when the weather is hot and cold like the Katy Perry song, when I feel alone here, I wonder. Being grateful is something I have to practice every day. I have to appreciate what’s going right in my life and that what I’m doing here is meaningful and vale la pena (worth the effort).
I started teaching English here on October 24th. I teach two classes that are different levels in the morning to young adults (mostly college students). Not only is it difficult to teach so early in the morning, but it’s also difficult to teach two different levels! Needless to say, I’m always busy. While I’ve had a bit of experience with teaching, it’s nothing like this. I have to remind myself that they’re not going to understand every nook and cranny of what I say every day. I need to draw, act it out, point at things, and talk slowly as much as possible to ensure that they’re understanding the material.
Overall, I’ve enjoyed teaching English so far. While lesson planning never stops and explaining grammar has its moments of difficulty, the best part is when we’re doing an activity and they don’t even realize that they’re using the new vocabulary or grammar. I’m starting to get the hang of some stuff, but like always, there’s room for improvement 😉 I teach in this colonial house:
The biggest thing I’ve struggled with yet enjoyed a bit so far is the holiday season here. I miss fall holidays in America very much! Thankfully, our group of WorldTeach volunteers celebrated Halloween on the 28th in a fun place. I also celebrated myself by watching all of Season 2 of Stranger Things in like two days, but that’s neither here nor there. Anyway, I got November 2nd and 3rd off from teaching because they celebrate Día de los Difuntos here. The family gave me bread that looked like a child with icing on it (called guagua) and some purple sweet liquid called “colada morada.” Um, yum. It represents the body and blood of Christ. Looked a little like this (found online):
During those two days off, I traveled to a beach on the coast of Ecuador called “Estero del Platano.” This trip tried my patience, but overall, it was relaxing. I took a 6.5 hour bus ride to Atacames, grabbed some lunch and groceries, and then we took a taxi to a small town called Galera. Uh oh, wrong place. Now what? I rechecked the title of the airbnb house, and it said “Estero del platano.” I thought, “Where’s that?” We asked the taxi driver, and he took us there. This was a pueblo straight up 100%. Not a grocery store in sight. The beach had n0 cell phone service or Internet connection, so I was completely disconnected.
We just happened to see two other volunteers walking along the road when we arrived too. Thankfully, they escorted us to the airbnb house. The house had four bedrooms, four bathrooms, and 10 beds total. The kitchen had everything we needed to cook our meals for the next three days. While not texting my husband was hard, I did enjoy relaxing on the beach. I spent a few hours in the warm ocean water playing with the waves. I got stung by a jellyfish or something, which freaked me out, but I turned out fine.
Here’s the house we stayed in, and some photos of me and my friend Adriene at the beach: