One Year Down

When the yearbooks arrived on campus a week ago, it really started to feel like the end of the year. Sure, there were still final projects to complete, exams to prepare for, and a host of year-end activities to participate in, but the end was clearly in sight. For Angela and I, reaching the end of our first year in Ecuador has been bittersweet.

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On the positive side, we’re incredibly excited to leave in just TWO days for a summer with family and friends in the U.S. We’ve been looking forward to this trip for months and can’t wait to reconnect with people and with life back home. The trip is sure to bring its share of challenges as we attempt to reconcile two very different cultures and as we rekindle relationships, but we’re glad to have the opportunity to visit and are hopeful that it’ll be a great summer.

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On the tougher side of things, we’ve had to say goodbye to a lot of good friends in recent weeks. The “gringo” community in Quito is very transient, with an average stay of probably 2-3 years. That’s true for embassy families, military families, and for many of the families we’ve gotten to know at Alliance Academy. The recent (and upcoming) changes at school have made things a bit worse and meant that several families had to leave before they were ready. Some of the teachers who arrived with us in August have already had to pack up and move back to the U.S. We had become close friends with many of them, so it’s hard to have such a relationship end prematurely. But, we’re thankful that we can still keep in touch with these new friends and that some of them are even relocating to the Pacific Northwest. We’re planning to see at least one family later this summer! After being here for a year, it’s easier to realize that it’s a small world and we’re sure that many of our paths will cross again in the future.

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The end of the year was also tough because it made me realize that I didn’t accomplish everything I wanted. Of course I feel good that the yearbook was finished on time (and that students and teachers really seemed to enjoy it), that I didn’t have to fail any students, and that I successfully completed my first full year of teaching. But, the last few weeks went by far too quickly and on Thursday, I watched as 16 of my students graduated. There’s a good chance that I’ll never see many of them again. I had a year to speak into their lives, encourage them in their passions, and train them for life beyond high school. For some of my students, I feel like I succeeded in having those meaningful conversations that will hopefully impact their lives, but for other students there wasn’t enough time or I don’t feel like I tried hard enough. I look back on the year and wish I could’ve done more. I’m thankful that we’ll at least have one more year at Alliance and, since I’ll no longer be a brand new teacher, I’ll hopefully have even more time to pour into students’ lives.

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But for now, I’m looking forward to heading home and a great summer with great people. I hope to see you soon!

BTW, our summer schedule is as follows. Give us a call or shoot us an email if we’re going to be in the area!

June 25 – July 16
San Diego, CA

July 16 – August 12
Bremerton, WA

August 12 – August 18
Washington, D.C.

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doug June 23, 2013 Ecuador