Revisiting Ecuador: From Volunteer to Lifelong Friend

By: Annette Davis, Ecuador

After having made such a strong connection with my host family during my gap year, I truly felt like I had to visit them again sooner rather than later. My host mom was 2 months pregnant when I left Ecuador, and I was so excited to meet my new baby host brother.

Arriving at the airport and seeing my youngest host sister through the crowd of people gave me an indescribable feeling of joy. After greeting my two host sisters, my mom, and my new baby host brother, we went outside to wait for my host dad to bring the car around and then we were all reunited. It was the most wonderful feeling and impossible to put into words.

Staying with my host family again and being part of their lives once more was one of the most fulfilling experiences I’ve ever had because I know that the bond I have with my family in Ecuador is something very special that I will never lose. When we arrived back at the house and I unpacked my things in my old room, I felt almost as if I had never left. Everything was so familiar, not much had changed.

I did all kinds of things in the house during the 10 days I was there. A lot of the time I helped my host mom with the baby Samuel and with preparing meals. In the evenings the whole family would gather in the bedroom and relax, joke around and watch TV. It was just like old times. I also went to visit the daycare where I volunteered in 2014 and spent two days volunteering there again and playing with the new group of kids. It was really nice to see the teachers again and their faces lit up when they saw that I had come back to visit. During the weekend we all went into Quito for the day and we ate lunch in the park, my host sisters and I rode on a rented 3-person bicycle, we all played soccer and relaxed and had a wonderful time.

Apart from enjoying time with my loving family, I spent a lot of time figuring out a project that I am working on for the summer of 2016. My college (Connecticut College) is a Davis UWC Scholar school which means that it is affiliated with the Davis Projects for Peace. This is an opportunity for undergraduate students to create and carry out a project of their own design that promotes peace in a community anywhere in the world by awarding approved projects $10,000. I used my time visiting my host family to ask questions and find out information about the neighborhood where they live and the surrounding area to see what I could do to help, and I gathered many ideas. I will create a final proposal to present to the Davis Projects for Peace in the coming months and hopefully (if I receive the grant) I will return again to stay with my host family for the summer of 2016 to carry out this project.

Now that I am back in the states and about to go back to college for the remainder of the spring term, I am indescribably happy that I was able to visit my host family again and make even more happy and loving memories with them. When I said goodbye to them this time it was more of “I’ll see you later” than a real goodbye, because I know I will continue coming back to see them to make even more amazing memories in the years to come.