Journals from Year abroad in Quito, Ecuador
2009-04-16 My Move
I was placed, first, with a family of a mother and daughter in the north of Quito in one of the wealthier neighborhoods. Looking back on the situation I realize that I never had a good relationship with either the mother or the daughter. My host mother was always very critical of me and the relationship with my host sister was nonexistent. Having never lived for a prolonged period of time in a Latin American country or with a Latin American family I was unsure how to react to her criticisms, so I just accepted what she said and tried to learn from it. As I began to make indigenous friends, her remarks became more pointed and hurtful to the point that she told me she was uninterested in hearing about my friends and kicked them out of the house, banning their visitation in the future.
What was complex for me to understand were my host moms completely contradictory words and actions. In conversations we would talk openly about the racism that exists in Ecuador, how it manifests and that it is a form of backward thinking.
She would acknowledge these things to my face, but her actions showed a completely different side of her feelings towards persons of other ethnicities that for me was hard to accept.
After talking with my director, something I should have done from the beginning, I realized that everything I had been experiencing for the past nearly three months was not something that I should have been experiencing. I decided that the best thing for me would be to move as soon as possible and to choose a family that would be, in many aspects, completely different from the family with which I had lived. I needed a complete change.
My new town, Lumbisi, is, as I have already described, very small and welcoming. From the beginning I loved the feeling that I got from the town but mostly I loved my new host family. I live with a mom, dad, and three little girls. The house is the complete opposite of the apartment where I lived before; it is alive with noise and love.
Ive learned many things about myself and about the culture here, part of which can, unfortunately, include racism. Although it was difficult for me to confront this issue, I am glad that I was able to get myself out of a situation in which I was uncomfortable and to do so in a way that I feel was respectful to all of those involved. My experience enabled me to see two very different, very real sides of Ecuadorian culture and for that I am thankful. As students read this, I dont want them to be afraid of studying abroad in Ecuador; racism doesnt just exist here--it is present all over the world in one form or another. How it manifests and how we deal with it are what makes the issue. I would also like to stress that if students would like to discuss this further or if they have any questions I am more than willing to talk with them through email. My email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.