Lydia Collins ecuador 2013

Lydia spends a good deal of her time volunteering, and was even elected to the board of the Community Service Club at her school.  She runs a program called Empty Bowl, which is a fundraising event in which the ceramic students make bowls while the culinary students make soup, and the two are sold together to raise money for a local soup kitchen.  She also volunteers three times a week at an after school program, where she tutors and organizes activities for the kids.  She took a weekly architecture class at the Art Institute of Chicago last semester, and hopes to pursue a career in architecture.


Alumni Post: 1 + 4
February 21, 2014

When I decided to attend Tufts in the spring of 2012, I simultaneously made another life-changing decision — to not go to Tufts.  Right away, that is.  I deferred my admission until the following year and signed up to spend a year in Ecuador with a program called Global Citizen Year. Global Citizen Year is a 5-year-old “bridge year” program that sends students to Ecuador, Brazil, or Senegal for an academic year between high school and college.  Technically, it is a “bridge year,” not a “gap year”, because the year abroad is not a gap, but rather a bridge between…Read the rest »

May 14, 2013

I am a jumble.  I am a jumble of everything and anything on so many levels.  I can’t pinpoint how I feel or why I act how I act or why I say what I say or why I blog what I blog. I really started to jumble the night before we left Ecuador.  I said goodbye to my host family and was a mess — tears of deep sadness mixed with tears of excitement.  Soon I would see my real family…but I questioned what is a real family.  Why can’t my Ecuadorian family be my real family too?  There…Read the rest »

Big Mama’s In Da House
March 27, 2013

Three weeks.  Three seven day spans before I leave Ibarra.  Before I leave my siblings, my students, the Andes, everything that was once new but is now familiar. As this intense, raw, and wonderful experience wraps up I find myself spending a lot of time reflecting on the past eight months. In hindsight, I realize that my Global Citizen Year was split into two parts. Part One was before our mom left for Quito and Part Two is after she left. Mid-December my (single) host mom brought me and my siblings into her room and told us she had good news and bad news.  The good news: she was finally…Read the rest »

How To Make Friends
February 26, 2013

Dear Reader, Below I arranged a combination of rules, guidelines, and recommendations on how to make friends.  These skills were learned in a local market in a city of 100,000 in northern Ecuador.  They are results of trial and error, embarrassment, laughs, and smiles. Most steps were learned while making friends with food vendors in a market.  For example, a 17-year-old who sells onions and stopped studying when she was 14, or a 50-year-old indigenous woman who sells underpants and shoelaces.  On the surface American and Ecuadorian lives are strikingly different.  But, when one digs a bit more, puts themselves Read the rest »

January 24, 2013

One of the first bits of Ecuadorian cultural advice I remember receiving at Stanford is to expect a lot of noise.  Our innocent, pre-departure selves were told that the dogs bark more here, the music is played louder, and the cars never cease to honk.  I listened to the advice, processed it, and then forgot about it.  I was more preoccupied with the threat of explosive traveler’s diarrhea and robbers than I was with something as trivial as noise. Then we got to Quito.  One of my first observations was the amount of honking.  Cars honk to let other cars Read the rest »

Un Dia Ecuatoriano
January 4, 2013

The following link is to a video that I made documenting the incredible life I am living down here.  It is important to watch and process images of life here without judgement, but instead with curiosity.  Why does that work?  Are those people happy like that?  What makes that system function?  How can we improve that situation or does it need improving? I have learned that asking questions is the best way to understand different cultures, customs, and peoples.  This is a good practice to exercise in your daily life, even if you are living a comfortable life back home.  …Read the rest »

Inspirational Tidbits
November 10, 2012

The first week in my homestay here in Ibarra, Ecuador I felt myself riding an emotional rollercoaster like never before.  The days were filled with random spurts of intense waves of realization of my situation. I am here.  In Ecuador.  I will not see my family for eight months.  I have no idea what is going on.  What has happened to my life?  What did I sign myself up for?  I don’t know what is going to happen today. Or tomorrow. Or next week.  Or next month. OH MY GOD. I needed to find an outlet for my emotions.  A…Read the rest »

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