Have you ever read something or listened to something that you thought was made just for you? As in not to you, but just for your experience only? For a second, think about all that you have experienced. Then consider that there are a lot of things that you have yet to experience. Human life cannot experience everything there is to experience considering infinite possibilities.
This thought inundated my mind as I flew from Charleston, SC, to Quito, Ecuador. The flight itself was very tranquil – little turbulence and excellent views. One of my friends, Zoe, was on the same flight, so that was comforting.
I have been trying to go abroad for the past year. COVID-19 shook my plans, and time after time again, I kept having to push back. Another limitation included which programs were running. After a series of program cancellations, I was fortunate to have secured a spot in the SIT Public Health, Traditional Medicine, and Community Empowerment program. This program will run a semester, and I will later travel to Kenya, but I will talk about that trip later in this blog.
Back to the plane ride. While in the air, I reflected upon a few other things. The first was my purpose as Presidential International Scholar. This experience is supposed to be immersive and focused on research. Throughout the summer, I kept having to shift my plans regarding research. Nothing has changed as I spend my orientation days; the independent study project, as SIT calls it, is still being crafted.
The other things I reflected on encompassed a broad, philosophical question: How will I experience this semester? As a philosophy major, constantly thinking and processing things comes in handy. I want to make the most out of this trip in every way. Writing goals down helps. For me, I want to create a space for challenge and growth. Through this space, I hope to embrace culture, uplift voices, and develop critical thinking skills that can be applied at an international level.
I arrived in Ecuador Tuesday afternoon and am currently staying in a Hotel-Convention Center in Puembo, around 30 minutes away from Quito. Our orientation will last three days. Upon its conclusion, we will transition over to a hotel in the center of Quito. During these past couple of orientation days, we have gotten the chance to learn more about Quito and preview the program’s structure. The weather is quite nice – almost like fall weather, but a little colder. The wind is not so strong, but it does seem to be a daily occurrence, at least in the few days since I’ve been here. In our spare time, I have spent time exploring with some of my cohort members. Everyone is exceptionally nice, and I hope to spend more time with everyone.