Written 29 de agostoMost college students are acquainted with the musician Ben Folds; even if they don’t know him, they probably recognize his song entitled “The Luckiest.” True, the song is a romantic expression of love, is perhaps overused, and may not seem to have much to do with my experience abroad. However, tonight the chorus struck a chord (haha, chord. I didn’t even mean to make that joke.) with my journey in Ecuador. I am the luckiest.This week marked the beginning of my studies at Universidad San Francisco de Quito. It was somewhat disorienting to arrive on campus and encounter hundreds of other students–I had become accustomed to the pre-semester courses throughout the month of August with only our small BCA group in attendance.I quickly learned that it is an exhausting thing to listen and speak in español for an entire day. By the time that I arrive home from classes I am incredibly worn out. Thus, I have taken two super-siestas (one was almost five hours long) to compensate. Fortunately, I can already feel my Spanish improving and, in addition, our BCA group has intentionally started speaking in Spanish to each other. It is easy to speak English with all the extranjeros and gringos, but for many of us, increasing our fluency in Spanish is a goal for our stay in Ecuador and we’re working hard to see it come to fruition. Read More
Hi everyone! My name is Aimee Siebert. I’m a junior at Bethel, and one of your new bloggers here at “Beyond the Green.”As one of the millions of people coming up for air (or falling down for sleep) after the Beijing Olympics, I think I have some bloggable thoughts for this entry that have made it past the sleep-deprived hysteria.Since they only come around every four years–I’m talking summer Olympics for now–The Olympics catch you at different points in your life every time they come around. I like to think I’m a pretty different person at 20 almost 21 than I was at 16 or 12 or 8. I know that I’m a much bigger and eclectic sports fan than I was before, so I think I enjoyed this Olympics more than all of the ones that came before. Read More
In an age where even Wal-Mart is trying to sell cloth bags and organic fruit, U.S. society advertises that it is “going green.” Unfortunately, we continue to find new places to drill in the Amazon.My last essay, “Entre dulces y amargos” or, essentially, bittersweet focused on my recent trip to Yachana Lodge in the oriente/Amazon Jungle of Ecuador. I saw the sweetness and beauty of the Amazon, but also experienced the bitter fact that we are destroying it. Read More
Right now I have probably 60 or so exotic bug bites (Amazonian bug bites!) and not a lot of time to write a detailed blog entry. HOWEVER, I will upload some photographs of my trip and write more about my wonderful experience at the environmentally sustainable Yachana Lodge soon.
A group of students in front of a sunset. We hiked to a lookout where we could see the Amazon jungle, volcanoes and the Napo River in the background.
(Written 9/10 de agosto)I know that it’s only been two days since my last blog/journal, but today was so eventful that I feel it’s important to write something.Tonight Ecuador began its celebration of el día de independencia–10 de agosto. The country comes together to remember the batalla de Pinchincha and the events that led to its independence from Spain. There were some 250,000 people in El Centro Histórico de Quito to participate in the festivities which included: free tours into the various cathedrals and musems, free baile, music, dance performances and a firework display among other things. But this blog is more about myself than the festivities–pretty egotistical, right? Read More
(Written 7 de agosto 2008)As of about 11:00 tonight, I will have been in Ecuador for two weeks. As boring and factual as that may seem, to me it is an incredibly surreal statement. I have done so much in such a sort expanse of time that it feels as though I have been here for months. I have seen gorgeous mountains, volcanoes and lakes. I hiked to and waded in a sacred “cascarada” (small waterfall) that the indigenous still flock to for certain festivals in Ecuador. I’ve learned to bargain with vendors in Otavalo, an indigenous market where there are so many hand made crafts that it is difficult not to be overwhelmed–you got ripped off if you bought an Alpaca sweater for more than $15 or $20. I have been to the center of the world and straddled two hemispheres. I have tasted naranjía, guanabana, tomate de árbol, yuca, ahí, empanadas and platanos. I have seen a cathedral rumored to be built by demons. I have learned of a proposed constitution and evolving governments in Ecuador. I have created friendships with a great group of students who are experiencing some of the same joys and struggles that I am.There are challenges. I know that I still have much to learn, but I already feel as though I am being forced to examine my own culture and the role of the United States in Latin America. Yesterday we attended the Foundación Guayasamil and viewed the artwork of the famous painter (see photos). He truly captured some of the anguish and struggles throughout the history of Latin America. It is not easy to see this pain when you know that your country played a role in bringing it about.
A painting by Guayasamil. Guayasamil´s paintings were often difficult to see because they gave life to the pain present in Latin America.
Becky Reed and I on top of Mount Pichincha.
Hello all. My name is Mayeken (Maya) Irene Kehr and I am currently a junior at Bethel College (By the way, it is really difficult to explain what a threshing stone is to people outside of the midwest.). I am currently studying as an exchange student at La Universidad de San Francisco de Quito in Quito, Ecuador. I am here through Brethren Colleges Abroad, a program that partners with Bethel and many other colleges to provide students the experience of living and studying abroad. Read More
With no cell phone reception and spotty satellite internet, I’ve enjoyed being able to focus on the people we are around.On Sunday, Will and I met a woman who, after conversation during potluck lunch, invited us to join her on her running route by the ruins of an old Mennonite church atop “Third Mesa.” An amazing experience: running a gradual rise in the soft sand of a shaded valley; climbing the same steep stone paths used centuries ago by Hopi women carrying water to the nearby village perched defensively at the edge of the mesa; hearing description of the history of the struggles of this church, twice struck by lightening and burnt to the ground leaving only stone walls and arches; humbled by the view of the setting sun behind the far off San Francisco peaks; but also hearing first hand of the experience of a woman caught between Hopi and Christian tradition and beliefs. Read More
Well, talk about sand! Today is our first full day in Kykotsmovi, AZ and we are having a bad sand storm. Welcome to the Hopi Nation in the high desert in the four corners region. Read More
It is not every day that a renowned music group comes to perform at a small college such as Bethel. But yesterday as I was walking through the Fine Arts Center on campus I heard the most amazing sounds of brass instruments warming up in the wings of Krehbiel Auditorium. So I stopped what I was doing and sat down in one of the cushy theater seats towards the back of the room. Read More