Two months ago, Patch spoke to Evanston Township High School graduate Lydia Collins as she was preparing for a seven-month trip to Ecuador following her senior year in high school.
Collins was getting ready for a “gap year” fellowship with the organization Global Citizen Year, which sends 100 recent high school grads to Brazil, Ecuador and Senegal every year to live with host families and work in local health clinics, microfinance centers or schools.
Reporting back from Ecuador via blog, Collins says she has learned to strive for “acceptance” as she is exposed to a country that’s totally different from Evanston, Illinois.
Earlier: ETHS Senior Trades Dorm for Ecuador
Recently, Collins had to carry a giant bag of trash from the microfinance office where she works through the center of a huge outdoor marketplace in Ibarra, a 400-year-old city about 40 miles outside of Ecuador’s capital, Quito.
Vendors were cleaning up, and Collins had to step through aisles full of soapy water as she carried the trash.
“Eventually I get to the meat section. I look down. Swimming around my Converse are pieces of beef, chicken feet and entrails,” she writes. “I look to my right. A man is hosing down the walls of his booth, blood runs down to the floor. I look to my left, a fish eye bobs up and down in the murky water.”
Although the whole experience might have disgusted her just one month ago, Collins says she sloshed through the “meat water” without any problem.
“Flawless adaptability is very far away, but it is very comforting knowing that I am one step closer,” she says.
In her blog posts, Collins also writes about the many firsts she’s experienced abroad—including her first time living beneath an active volcano, the first time she had tree tomato juice and “the first time I have felt truly independent.”
To read more about her experiences in Ecuador, visit Collins’ blog at http://globalcitizenyear.org/author/lydia-collins/.