Quito, Ecuador – Humility, Hospitality, Building Bridges in Our Diverse Planet – by Dan DeLestry. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports
[The photo above shows some of the city of Quito with the “El Panecillo” hill in the center.]
Today our HECUA study abroad group landed in Quito, Ecuador where we will be studying for the coming three and a half months. I can say with certainty that this semester will be one of the most memorable in my college experience. Being a visitor from abroad, I immediately fell in love with Quito (within the course of the plane landing and the first 45 minute car ride from the airport to my host family’s home); I have already seen beautiful architecture, a breathtaking landscape, and have met some wonderful people. Furthermore, I was lucky enough to have trouble sleeping this first night in Quito (which I attribute to my perpetually growing excitement), which turned out to be a blessing because I then had the opportunity to listen to some of the most incredible bird songs I have ever heard in my life. People often talk about the scenery of an area being beautiful, but photos cannot encompass Ecuador’s beauty. It is one thing to view a photo, it is another to be immersed in a culture. Trust me, the bird songs alone are worth a trip.
Traveling abroad always brings about sensations that are difficult to replicate in the comfort of one’s own home. This became apparent to me in 2017 when I first stepped off of a plane into the Guatemala City airport.
[The photo above shows some of the beautiful mountains that surround the city of Quito.]
It is easy to become complacent in the comfort of one’s own daily life. However, this type of living does not expose one to many new experiences. When I stepped off the plane in Guatemala, I was in the minority of a population for the first time in my life. This feeling is unique. If you have had this same experience, I think you might know the sensation I am getting at. Suddenly, you are more aware; you realize that you are a visitor from abroad and are representing your own country, you are immediately stripped of the confidence you have been unknowingly taking for granted throughout your life, and you wonder what the citizens in this country would think of the people in your home country based off what they have seen on the news.
[The photo above is a photo of me on top of the “Basílica del Voto Nacional.”]
This sensation is something that I believe everyone should experience at some point. I feel that it is impossible to create policies for those in the minority of a population if we have not ever felt what it is like to be in the minority population ourselves. It is not always comfortable. I can definitely see how one could feel inhibited from moving up the social ladder if there aren’t people from their same background in positions of prestige to model after.
My experience at the Quito airport was warm and welcoming because of my wonderful host mom, Paty. In Guatemala, I did not have a clear path of travel from the airport, and this led to anxiety and discomfort. This time around, Paty was waiting for me in the front row holding a sign with my name on it. She also made sure to give me a great big smile and a hug.
What an incredible act of selflessness, inviting someone to stay at your house for an entire semester and meeting them at the airport to make sure they understand that they are welcome in your home country. In a world filled with negative news, experiences like this create bridges of understanding and love between cultures rather than walls of division. I have realized that those in the majority of a population have the ability to make a huge difference in the lives of those who are in the minority. Currently, I feel like I can be very successful in my internship and classes this semester, based on nothing more than the loving hospitality of my host family. I look forward to a great semester.
Dan is serving as The North Star Reports’ special correspondent in Ecuador this semester.
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The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our guiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In five years we have published over 300 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our volunteer student editors and writers come from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). We have an all volunteer staff. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang and NSR Student Editors and Writers. For a brief summary of our history, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm
Professor Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports. Ellie Swanson and Marin Ekstrom, Assistant Managing Editors, The North Star Reports.
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