Danielle Livnehecuador 2013


The Virtue of Sharing Published on September 13, 2012

I was taught from a young age, as most children are, about the virtue of sharing. I learned that sharing is caring, that greed was an ugly trait, and that yes, I really did have to give some of my chocolate to my sister. Of course I’ve had my fair share of avaricious moments, but in general I’ve always felt that I had a pretty good idea about what it meant to share. It took but a couple days in Quito to realize my understanding of sharing was in fact grossly limited.

The buses here in Quito are cheap (25 cents), easily accessible, and bursting with travelers. A seat is rare, and even if one becomes available the chances of actually getting to that seat are slim. I start my trek to the doors at least a stop before my destination to ensure I have enough time to shimmy and “permiso” my way through the dense maze of people. Even if I’m lucky enough to have a few inches to myself, I’m bound to fall onto someone with one of the numerous jolts of the bumpy ride. One way or another I find myself shoulder to shoulder, or check to check, with another passenger. The system completely challenges my idea of person space. Without realizing it, I’ve grown up believing that I have a right to my own area, a “person bubble” that must not be popped. Being in Quito has allowed me to recognize space is something I’m actually quite possessive of.

Similarly, at the local pool I was astonished as people continued to pile into the Jacuzzi, despite already being filled (to what I considered) capacity. More and more bodies joined in, making it impossible to sit without touching someone else. A grandmother did her exercises in the middle of the circle, kicking me with each rep. Some people only managed to get a single leg into the warm water. Feeling violated, I left the Jacuzzi. Only in hindsight do I see how low my tolerance was for sharing this space.

And it’s not just with personal space I see this higher standard for sharing here in Quito. At lunch one day, I was confused as all six of us wore plastic gloves so that we could dig into a communal chicken instead of separating it onto individual plates. When I went out dancing with my host aunt and host sister, I was surprised that I was expected to pay for everyone. I’m slowly seeing the cracks in my sharing. When it comes to space, food, and money I have some learning to do.

The exciting news is this generosity seems to be contagious. I now leave my door open allowing full access to my room. I’ve noticed that at lunch we Fellows are constantly offering each other bits and pieces of our meals. We make sure that everyone has enough money to get home each day, and we have no problem lending a quarter or two.  Yes, we are still obsessed with “splitting the check”, but there seems to be a new sense of openhandedness within the cohort that grows stronger each day. I can only hope that I will continue to expand my definition of sharing throughout my time here in Ecuador.


There are 12 comments by other visitors:

  • Great post! Glad I got a shout out :)

    Response shared by Talia — September 13, 2012 @ 7:08 pm

  • I couldn’t find the like button, but this is wonderful!

    Response shared by Joe — September 13, 2012 @ 7:20 pm

  • So happy that you are doing well!! Be safe and enjoy every day!!

    Response shared by Auntie V" — September 13, 2012 @ 8:41 pm

  • Benito Aranda-Comer

    All I can do is share my love for your life!

    Response shared by Benito Aranda-Comer — September 13, 2012 @ 9:35 pm

  • Thanks Danielle for the reminder about sharing and the suble opportunities we have all the time. I imagine the packed buses, the smells, the spontaneos smiles and of course the colors. All of which come together to provide a new way to understand the most simplist of human needs…. give and take. Every day I think of you and wonder hmmm love you shu shu

    Response shared by shu shu — September 14, 2012 @ 2:11 am

  • This is great Danielle, you’re going to have such an amazing experience in Ecuador. Sra. Samii would be proud 😉

    Response shared by Wada-Gill Bronwyn — September 14, 2012 @ 4:25 am

  • Wow, Dani this was so inspiring. You’re right, we are all so used to what we think is the standard principle of “sharing” — splitting the check exactly even at Daikaynama or Royal Indian (teehee) — but we are so ignorant to what it truly means to give a peace of yourself to someone else in order to help them along, even if it’s just the little things. Thanks for this! Missing you more and more every day.

    Response shared by Louy — September 14, 2012 @ 11:25 pm

  • So glad Ella and you found each other to share some yucks with. Hope you didn’t get abuela scratch fever! Good Wishes, Steve Lawless (Ella’s Dad)

    Response shared by steve lawless — September 18, 2012 @ 1:24 am

  • Awesome article/ op ed piece, full of Dani personality (which i need back here, please!). Umm hung out with your girl Rachel Dratch, two days in a row, what what! Got into a verbal altercation with a mom when her daughter cut me in line at Dratch’s book signing. I’m keeping it classy. Also, I just realized how this is way more FB Wall appropriate.

    No one will judge you for getting out of a crowded Jacuzzi, you most likely saved yourself from some flesh eating virus. Avoid all public jacuzzi’s, just a lesson to live life by.

    Also, Joe loves the blog.

    Response shared by Casey — September 18, 2012 @ 4:17 pm

  • Sam Reeve

    It’s as if you were inspired by someone from within the cohort to write this one…

    Response shared by Sam Reeve — September 19, 2012 @ 8:24 pm

  • Loved this latest post….your mom also sent me the Youtube link of the video you made which had my son, Galen, in it.
    It blows my mind how much you have all learned and grown in one month. And how all of you have learned how much you took for granted back in US. Especially only children.
    I wish you luck and keep on posting stories and pictures.


    Response shared by Jewli Judd — September 20, 2012 @ 7:08 pm

  • Brian Riefler

    Thank you for SHARING this post!

    Response shared by Brian Riefler — September 28, 2012 @ 4:16 am

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