A Return to Imbabura

Lizzie anna mountain Last August, when Spanish was my first language and I wore bright red beads wrapped tightly around both wrists, I met a woman named Charlotte.

Charlotte was visiting Ecuador on behalf of Lakeside School, a private high school in Seattle. They were looking to expand their sites for their Global Student Learning program and had come to my little corner of the Imbabura Province to see what Tandana was about. See if we were a good fit for the experience she wanted her students to have.

Turns out, we were. And turns out, I was a pretty good fit too. Charlotte encouraged me to apply to be a GSL leader. I went through the process, interviewed over skype and got the job. Now-ten months later- I’m packing my bags for a five week trip. One week will have me in Seattle, meeting my twelve students and going through rigorous pre-trip orientation. And four weeks in Agualongo, the community next to Panecillo. I am one of three leaders. We will all be living in host families and working on volunteer projects that Tandana sets up for us. It’s my first time in Ecuador where I will not be working for Tandana.


Going back is a strange and unusual blessing. There are not many people my age who get paid to travel internationally. When I am not in Ecuador, I have been processing refrigerator rebates at a large non-profit in Portland. Going back will be a nice break in the 9-5 monotony that often leaves me gazing wistfully out the window. Going back gives me four weeks in a country where I lost myself, found myself and lost myself all over again. And this is the time I will finally have to say a real goodbye to the host family I love so much.

I’m excited to share Ecuador with my students. I’m excited to speak Spanish and broken Kichwa. I’m excited for all the things I can expect, and ready for whatever I can’t expect.

And I will blog about it. Because writing makes everything just a little bit easier.


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