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

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.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

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.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu


Filed under Professor Hong-Ming Liang

11 responses to “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

    • Aleah Rubio

      Hello Dan,
      I hope you are having an amazing time in Quito! Your pictures are so gorgeous, it makes me very jealous to know that your in such a sunny place right now. I love the part you touched on about becoming more aware in such a different setting. That is the thing that I absolutely love about traveling. Traveling makes a person step out of their comfort zone and learn things they never would just by sitting in a classroom. You will have the best time ever in Quito and I wish you safe travels!

      Thank you for you post,

      Aleah Rubio

  1. Ashley DeJuliannie

    Thank you for sharing your experience. I spent a month in Germany the summer before last and I felt many of the same things you are now. Rather than just simply going on vacation, I stayed with a family. I was fully immersed in a culture that differed from my own. Language difference aside, I was surrounded by new information. I hope you have a wonderful rest of your semester!


  2. Samantha Willert

    Hello Dan,

    Thank you for sharing your story. I agree with you that traveling abroad is something that everyone should experience. I had the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica when I was in high school and it was one of the best experiences of my life. I not only felt more confident in feeling independent, but I had learned about the beautiful architecture, language, and culture that Costa Rica had to offer. I will also be traveling to Cernevacua Mexico and Norway this coming year. I think that studying abroad helps people grow in ways they did not think they could. Hope you enjoy Ecuador!

  3. Cassandra Mahlberg

    Dan, thank you for taking the time to write this article while you are making such a huge transition! I hope the culture shock is not too strong. I think it is truly fantastic that your host mother was there to greet you at the airport and truly welcome you into your temporary home. As of yet, I have never traveled and had a long term host family, so I think I have missed out on that dynamic. I’ve also never been in a racial minority which is something vastly different than even a nationalistic minority, i.e. even in a foreign country in Europe, while I am often picked out as an American, I am still less likely to face any sort of discrimination or exoticization. Representing one’s country can have a certain amount of pressure associated with it, and while you are definitely doing that, as long as you are respectful of the new culture, you’re probably already setting a better example than what is seen in the media.
    Something I had to be conscious of in Germany is how loud we tend to be in the US, and that the volume of conversation has to be much lower—something I enjoy there because I am still being heard (in the US, I often feel ignored if I’m not commanding people’s attention). Are there particular mannerisms you’ve noticed so far that impact your normal interactions?
    It is also very cool that you were able to spend time enjoying the bird songs to acclimate yourself to your new home. Finding something to hold onto and appreciate is very important so that you don’t get homesick. I hope you have a fantastic semester and look forward to seeing more from you about your experience!

  4. DyAnna Grondahl


    My heart is warmed by the way you speak of Ecuador and your host family. I am happy to read that you are feeling confident. I, too, think people need to experience travel. I have only been as to the UK, so I have yet to really feel that culture shock, but even experiencing the diversity of London was awe-inspiring. I think you make a brilliant point when you say, “In a world filled with negative news, experiences like this create bridges of understanding and love between cultures rather than walls of division.” It is imperative that people take the time to understand one another, and your bridges vs. walls dualism. Building bridges is a lot of hard work, and a person has to put in significant effort to be successful – sometimes that amount/caliber of work inspires fear. That being said, a lot of times it can be easier to build a wall – the structure is more simple, and you don’t have to work quite so hard.

    I will close for now. Thank you for this article, Dan.
    – DyAnna

  5. Catherine Ann Swenson

    Dan, what a wonderful opportunity you have been given to travel to Ecuador for a whole semester! I’ve always been interested in studying abroad and I get to do so for the first time this spring in Cuernavaca, Mexico. I am looking forward to being put in uncomfortable situations surrounding the fact that I, too, will be a minority there. “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 really enjoy this quote because it really is important to realize the power we hold when we’re not minorities. It is important to put it into perspective while at home and while traveling. I hope you enjoy your semester abroad!
    Thank you for this article,

  6. Madina Tall

    Hi Dan,

    I am glad you’re having such a great experience in Ecuador so far! It’s so nice that you are able to absorb and learn so much about Ecuador thought little things such as listening to the bird songs in the morning. I hope you continue to learn and compare your experiences to what you’re normally used to because I think a big part of studying abroad should be about appreciating other cultures and understanding the privilege that you have as well.

  7. Tamer Mische-Richter

    Traveling abroad is such an exciting and mysterious adventure that much of the experience is taken for granted. Take in everything around you! As you become aware of your surroundings, their are socio-economic gaps that are increasingly frustrating. This is a connection that is often missed for US students studying abroad but is extremely valuable to translate back home. The gaps that I speak of are the smaller ones within a community. How specific families have different values of struggle and that certain hardships do not set back in the same way; essentially, practice empathy instead of sympathy.

    Enjoy your time in Ecuador Dan!


  8. Phillip Truax

    Dear Dan,
    i Hope you are living it up it Qutio, we miss you in RES life. It is a very thought provoking idea of giving up your comfort and becoming a minority because its a thought that has never crossed my mind. I think you are right the only way to understand this feeling is to put yourself it that situation. I’m sure a persons mind could get consumed with what other peoples perceived ideas are. I would like to know if you have received any discrimination or any rude behavior because of where you come from?
    thanks, Phillip Truax

  9. Katelyn Fischer

    Hi Dan!
    I am so jealous that you are studying abroad in Quito! I am sorry you did not have the best experience in Guatemala. The airport there can be quite confusing and disorienting, but after the airport, the atmosphere can’t be beat! I am so glad your first experience in Quito has been a good one. That definitely helps with the culture shock. I hope you have a fantastic time in Quito, and I hope you post more about your experiences!

    Thanks for sharing!

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