WorldTeach Volunteer Rachel Brylawski has lived with a host family in Ecuador for seven months. Here, she tells of life with her host family, and the experiences she has had with them that she will never forget. Thanks for sharing, Rachel!
September has come and gone, and the end of the cycle is just over a week away. I can’t believe how fast time has flown by! It doesn’t seem possible that I’ve been living in Ecuador for 7 months now, and teaching for 6.
Since my adventures in the Amazon at the beginning of August, I have strayed very little from home. Life has been anything but uneventful, however! We kicked off the month of September with a “baby shower” for my host cousin, Tanya. Just as in the United States, the shower involved various silly games related to pregnancy and babies, food, and gifts. There, however, the similarities end. I had no idea as we headed next door at 2:30 for the baby shower (that supposedly started at 1pm) that I would spend the next two hours standing up to greet the slow but steady trickle of arriving guests, then collaborate to write an original lullaby (which won the prize!); take dozens of photos of all kinds of silly antics; eat snacks, fruit salad, a huge plate of food, tea, and cake; and finally crawl into bed sometime after midnight.
The next day, the new group of September WorldTeach volunteers arrived! One of them, also named Rachael, came to live with my host family for the month of orientation. One of the sweetest, most down-to-earth, sincere people I have ever met. It was fun and refreshing to be shaken out of our daily routine and see things from a distinct perspective. She left this morning for her site in Riobamba… I’ll definitely miss her cheerful presence!
The most exciting news this month, of course, was the birth of Tanya’s baby, Daniela Marie on September 27. I haven’t had the opportunity to see her yet, but from what I’ve gathered from the many conversations about her, she is an adorable baby with a very healthy appetite. Excited to meet the newest addition to the family soon!
Last but not least, today I finally reconnected with my host mother from my semester abroad. I was a little nervous what it would like to see her after more than two years, but it was a wonderful visit. Standing outside her apartment, I was struck by how everything was exactly as I remembered — the same familiar smell, the same doormat with a faint trace of tar (I guess I have forever left my mark in the world). Inside, I was greeting by the same tablecloth, couch, photos on the side table, paintings on the walls, and the sign on the bathroom door. My host mother also looked exactly the same. Once we began to talk, however, it quickly became clear how much time had passed and how much had shifted in our lives. It was amazing to finally reunite with her and to revisit a part of my life at once so familiar and so distance, to reflect on how much has changed and how much hasn’t.
In nine days, I will finish my classes and my parents will arrive in Ecuador. Excited to share and discover some of the wonders of this amazing country with them!