Today, I decided to take a few minutes out of my very busy work schedule to read some pages in my “Living and Teaching in Ecuador” guide provided by World Teach in preparation of my journey next month. Let me just tell you, this guide is not for the faint of heart. I understand why they don’t send it to you until AFTER you are confirmed. I keep reminding myself I am PAYING for this experience. I have VOLUNTEERED for this cause *cough-deep breathing-cough*…
My comprehension of developing nations is probably more evolved than most, as I am an economist. I am from northern New England, therefore can rough it with the best of them. Advice on having no expectations has been accepted and implemented: currently picturing a blank canvas. Plainly speaking, I know I’m going to be roughing it. I guess the bus just hit me when I read:
“It is possible you will not receive your pay on a regular monthly basis and conceivable you will not be paid for some months at all.” Ladies and gentlemen, we’re talking about the “stipend” volunteers get for their positions, which is used to pay the host families with whom they are staying. The program proclaims room and board are included in the “fee” and are part of package for your noble efforts. They probably should have let us know beforehand we have to pay our families even though we might not get paid. Not sure, but that seems a little bit important considering we are going to be DESTITUTE.
“Living with a host family can be a trying experience, especially if you are used to living very INDEPENDENTLY. Your host parents may want to know where you are at all times or try to regulate your social life as they would their own children.” My parents are 17 and 20 years older than I, which uncharacteristically worked to my advantage growing up. I was allotted an alarming amount of freedom I never abused. I’ve had it all my life. Not sure about relinquishing it now despite how adaptable I am.
I can handle carrying my identification card and passport around with me. I think they are safer there anyway so I can use my karate to defend them if necessary. And I will because there is no way I’m going to risk not being able to return to the good old U.S.A.
My anxiety began rising when I read we have to pay to use public bathrooms. Ten cents a visit seems ok; it’s the having to carry your own toilet paper about which I’m weary.
The swells peaked once I read the following paragraph:
“ Most people do their laundry by hand...wash it in a bin and hang it to dry...Because of air pollution, you will probably find that your clothes get very dirty, very fast...the water in the tub will turn black. Don’t worry, it’s normal.” Oh really? Maybe you missed the part where I worship the washing machine and the dryer. I MEAN WORSHIP THEM. I consider folding freshly clean laundry straight out of the dryer a hobby of mine.
I immediately picked up the telephone to call BigStar at work. She fervently answered the phone expressing how she was stressed out when I interjected with my distress about the topics previously mentioned. She gawked vehemently protesting the unpleasantness of it all. I told her the good news, “I can text message people for four cents a message” to which she retorted with exasperation, “You can send text messages but can’t wash your clothes?”
I closed the guide, feeling as though I’d had enough anguish for the morning when I asked Erin about her stress. She sheepishly said she had so much to do, she wasn’t sure how she was going to fit it all in: “Hair appointments, getting my nails done, shopping, finding someone to watch the children while I spend a week touring the country in pursuit of Kenny, oh and I have to find Irving gas stations along the way so we can use the gas card Heidi received as a gift…”
Shaking my head, I responded with, “Oh the woes of Erin..” I have a feeling she will not be accompanying Allie on the visit in February.
Well, at least text messages are only 4 cents…
What on earth have I gotten myself into??