Fellows' Blog Archives

Cultural Exploration: All Posts


Maria, The Wearer of Many Hats
by | March 3, 2015

I think back to September 21st, the day I met my host mom, Maria. I remember she greeted me with the biggest hug, the kind that you can still feel even after a few minutes, and a smile from cheek to cheek. She immediately told me, “My name is Maria, but you can call me Mami”. After that moment, I was so thrilled to have her as my host mom and to be able to call her Mami. My host mom amazes me every day, never stopping to rest until the day is done. It is very rare that…Read the rest »

4. An Honor
by | March 3, 2015

He walks out to meet you. Expecting only his usual friends, eyes bright as he greets each of them. Kiss. Hug. Manly handshake. Hug. Then a pause.
He looks at you questioningly and your host sister says “That’s my sister, a Americana.” His eyes widen and he looks back at his house in panic but I’m still stuck on the word sister. He leans toward you for the customary kiss and hug.
“Prazer. Meu nome e João.” I apologize I’m not better dressed and my hands are so dirty.
This time, your eyes widen, “O prazer e meu.” Gabi told me you just
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Virgen del Cisne
by | March 3, 2015

November 17th, 2014 If you walk 21.5 kilometers in my shoes, then you should probably also wake up at midnight to take a five-hour car ride south to the province of Loja. At 5:20am we stepped out of our car and started walking past a church and market that was selling food, hats, clothes, shoes, toys, absolutely anything and everything.  We were to follow the Virgen del Cisne through the verdant Andes mountains to a massive Catholic church, where she had been since 4am.  Elevation, Incline, and Heat – there’s a lot to learn from such an intense experience.…Read the rest »

11. Thiadiaye Laa Dekk
by | February 18, 2015

I’m from Thiadiaye. Saint Louis is almost as far north as you can go in Senegal and since I was heading there anyway for our second training seminar, I decided to take advantage of it by visiting all the Fellows north of me along the way.  Besides the people in my own community, the rest of the Senegal cohort has been such a central resource. They are all so intelligent and insightful and my relationships with each and every one of them have enriched my experiences here in Senegal beyond anything I could have imagined. So yea, I was curious…Read the rest »

We Got In Trouble… And I Liked It
by | February 18, 2015

It was a lazy Saturday, más o menos. I rose around 6 AM, normal time. Breakfast was lentil soup with a special treat: warm milk, straight from cow that Abuelita milked before the sun painted the greens of the fields and blues of the mountains with the colors of daylight. And then Mamí, Papí and Abuelita left for a Carnaval party in the ever-ambiguous location of abajo (somewhere a-ways down the mountain). My siblings and cousins and I were left at home for the day, free to do as we pleased so long as we took care of the animals…Read the rest »

Untitled Part II
by | February 10, 2015

Since my last blog, I have dug deep into the experiences that were sparking those thoughts. I don’t like cynicism, I think it’s a cop out, an easy say to wiggle out from under our responsibility to each other. And the same thing goes for pessimism. So, under these extraordinary circumstances, I have had the opportunity to experiment with this and other philosophies. My life here has become a daily practice in choosing optimism. Like that the bus will actually arrive this morning or that the taxi driver I get when coming home from Riobamba after dark will just drop…Read the rest »

What Happens When Five Kichwa Kids From a Poor Rural Amazonian Community Visit Quito….
by | February 7, 2015

A few weeks ago, there was the grand opening of some museum in Quito, so naturally, the Ecuadorean government had to invite cute little indigenous children to sing a traditional song in traditional clothing for the opening ceremony. They took the cute little indigenous children from my community, Santa Rita, specifically from the 7th grade class. They needed 15 kids, and there are about 20 in the class, so five kids weren’t selected to go. My 12 year old host sister Sandy was one of them. When her classmates got back with their bags of free goodies from the government…Read the rest »

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