Monday, September 08, 2008

Lessons learned from my time in Ecuador

I kept a scattered list of the things I learned during my stay in Ecuador. Most of the items are scribbled in various crayola colors on a plethora of random sheets of paper, as I tried to capture my thoughts as they happened. I managed to gather together what I think is the best of my lessons so I thought I'd share.

* During my lesson on modal verbs, I came across a Shel Silverstein poem I used in class for an exercise that left an impression:

Listen to the Mustn'ts

Listen to Mustn'ts, child, listen to the Don'ts. Listen to the Shouldn'ts, the Impossibles, the Won'ts. Listen to the Never Haves, then listen close to me. Anything can happen, child, Anything can be.

I discovered this idea is unique to Americans.

* Everyone has an opinion about your life and what you should do with it. They offer their opinion freely without realizing it's based on their fears, past experiences, and ideas about what would be best if they were you. Well, you are not them and do not have the same personal history riddled with whatever baggage the opinion giver carries. Few individuals are able to offer genuine support without projecting their own bias or personal reaction. (Cherish these people). Ignore the naysayers. As Shel wrote, "ignore the musn'ts." People should learn to keep their mouths shut if they cannot leave their judgments behind.

* In reality, one needs very little to get by and live a good life.

* People will always surprise you, especially when you least expect it.

* One can do anything for a short amount of time.

* While you have absolutely no control over the color of your skin, your gender, or where you were born, people will treat you like you do.

* Watching movies repeatedly is not necessarily a bad thing.

* The seasons are vital for my soul. I can be a victim of the weather.

* Walking a city is the best way to learn it.

* Freedom & privacy are perceived differently by people around the world.

* I need music & exercise every day.

* The people you love are priceless.

* I love vegetables.

* The paradox of choice is a good thing when it comes to clean veggies & fruit.

* One cannot appreciate her country fully until she's spent a significant amount of time away from it.

* It is easy to control one's emotions when one realizes they are only temporary chemical reactions.

* I am my father's daughter in more ways than I knew.

* I like futbol, manicures, CNN International, jewelry but not bracelets, and maracuya margaritas.

* I learned how to light gas stoves and to use gas & electric showers. I prefer neither but I like cold showers even less.

* I am a perfectionist scared of success as well as failure and often find comfort cloaked safely in mediocracy even though I know that is not where I belong ~ no where near it.

* Appreciate everything. APPRECIATION is underrated.

* One can make amazing friends traveling.

* One shouldn't judge or exclude until a thing has been tried, done, or seen (with the exception of weird animal food).

* Proper rain gear is ESSENTIAL. Never ever leave home without it.

* Everything passes.

* You don't have time to waste. Do what you want now.

* I am an emotional eater and drinker when I travel to far away unfamiliar lands.

* Do not say no out of fear.

* Buy diamonds made from a lab. They are better for the Earth and the countries that are ruined by the trade.

* Charity starts at home, as cliched as it might sound. I firmly believe it now.

* How others view America and its citizens is startling & enlightening.

* I sometimes sabotage things as a defense mechanism.

* I can calm myself down.

* A tablespoon of olive oil before drinking prevents a hang over and a cup of oregano tea soothes a stomachache.

* Perceptions & definitions are negotiable. Make sure to clarify as soon as possible.

* When on the road, bring more money and less stuff.

* Lastly, travel, travel, travel even if it is in your own backyard. Everyone needs a great adventure, no matter what one's definition of "great" is.

1 comment:

Allie said...

Very good lessons!!