¡Ecuador 2015! The Crucible

February 17, 2015 BY Kelly C. Bawden, MS, CCC-SLP

So, it’s been a long little while since I blogged about Ecuador. Lo siento. I don’t really have any good excuses . . . save for, you know, Life. I don’t quite remember where I left you, perhaps at a meeting in Heather’s apartment on a cold and blustery day? We have had 2 meetings since then, one of which I was unfortunately not able to attend, and many, many, many virtual conversations. A sidebar here to say that the degree to which we are using technology to plan this trip is so much greater than what we used for our BiH trip. Likewise, I remember the members of Costa Rica team remarking on just how much more tech we were using for the BiH trip than they had used for their trip. Makes me wonder what it will all look like next time around 😉

Anyhoo, our team has been spending the bulk of the last 2 months chewing on and pounding out a service model for the trip. I love this part of the group process, little bits of time in the crucible that serve to strengthen our bond as a team. It’s not altogether pleasant 100% of the time, but the sweat that forms when of a group of committed, passionate people grind toward a common goal is deeply powerful stuff. There are still details that remain to be seen, and it won’t be until we walk in the door of Esperanza para todos that most of them will be ironed out. And that’s another thing that, for me personally, is such an integral part of the journey. I’m such a planner and organizer that it is somehow freeing (if not a wee bit painful at times) to simply surrender to the process.

At this point, that process has lead to our mini-teams being formed, our schedule and plan being outlined, and our little expedition generally inching ever closer to being ready to go. We’ll be doing more “teaching” on this trip than we have on previous trips, so figuring all of that out is taking up a fair amount of mental real estate right now. We just this week ironed out the details of our lodging (not for nuthin’, but I am over the moon at the prospect of hot showers), and we’ve had some fun kicking around ideas for our “expedition” day (I am so totally not doing that swing-thing there in the photo, thankyouverymuch). Passports are being renewed, plane tickets are being researched, drivers are being hired, travel plans are coming into focus. In other words, this is, like, so totally and completely HAPPENING. In 4 months. That’s quatro meses in Español.

And how is my Español coming along? Well, gee, I’m glad you asked. Because it pretty much isn’t. I mean, it was, but again, that whole Life thing happens and you find yourself flat on your bum straight outta nowhere for a while, and you just sort of have to sit there and regroup for a bit. So that’s what my Spanish is doing right now. Regrouping. My general mental preparation is coming right along, though. I have excited days and anxious days and frightened days and exhilarated days. I talk with my teammates and we wonder about what will it feel like to walk in the door and meet new kids, and new staff. What will the food taste like? What can we do to have the most long-lasting impact for the most people? What will I do the first time I see a gigantic bug in my room?

I have a photo of our BiH team that hangs on my bulletin board above my desk. Whenever I feel anxious about this trip, I take a deep breath and look at it — the sun shining on our smiling faces, our practical shoes on the ancient cobbled street, the storied Stari Most bridge behind us — and I am flooded with pure joy at the memory of it all, and at the prospect of doing it all again. That crucible I mentioned up there? It’s helping me to get to know my Ecuador teammates a little bit better every day. The thought that I’ll have the same sort of bond with them as I have with my BiH teammates is so, so, so profound. We don’t know what we’ll see, where we’ll go, what we’ll feel, but what I do know, what we are slowly learning together, is that we have each other.

This post is part of our series documenting our forthcoming international service trip to Baños, Ecuador. You can read our other entries here, and be sure to check back often for future updates.