When the bruises became badges of pride and the aching muscles a pat on the back, I knew without a doubt that I have found a new passion.
Or could it be the other exchange students I have gotten to know? I the first time I met the other exchange students, I was a bit overwhelmed. But now, they are like a whole other family. Getting to know each and every one of them has been so much fun.
From shooting each other with water guns to late night talks about red moons, they have become some of y closest friends. From France, Brazil, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, we have become so close in such a different way that our friendships are indescribable. The way our cultures mix and match is a wonder that I can't describe.
Or possibly it's my wonderful host family. They have been here for my through ups and downs.
From the very first day, I have always felt at home. My family here is as crazy as the one in the States, and I love them for this! They are always there to tease me about my accent, boys, my Americaness.
But at the same time, they are there when I just need a hug. I have no idea how they have put up with me for these past six months, but I'm thankful that i got them as my family! So what's the best moment? All of it! Every second of every minute of every day has been an incredible experience, and I just wanted to take a minute to thank everyone who has helped make this happen. Both in the States and in Ecuador, thank you to everyone who has supported me financially, spiritually, and emotionally. If it weren't for you guys, I wouldn't be the person I am today. Thank you.
It feels as if it was ages ago. I was sitting in my first set Spanish class learning vocabulary used in a hospital, basic words like stomachache, nausea, and cough. My teacher made us sit down and translate from Spanish to English basic conversations about a person who was sick. He told us that there was a great need for medical translators and that we could be the ones doing the translating pretty soon. Of course, I didn't believe him. How could I do something like that?
I'm just a high school student. However, to my surprise, this past Thursday, a friend asked me if I wanted to help volunteer at a hospital translating for some doctors from Canada. I had nothing better to do, so I showed up at 9 at the clinic and wondered around for about 20 minutes before I found the doctors. But as soon as I found them, they put me to work. At first, I got to help a physical therapist who was working with a sweet lady named Katie. Katie had just had a hip replacement surgery on her right hip the day before, but she somehow managed to wear a big smile from ear to ear.
I helped by translating the exercises she had to do, and she did them all without complaining. Then it was time for the fun part.
It was time to get walking. When I told Katie that it was time to walk, her face lit up. We got her out of bed, and she started walking at first with the walker, then after about 4 meters, she began to walk with crutches. She walked about 15 meters and then she went up a flight of steps and came back down. When she had just finished coming down from the steps, we asked if she wanted to go back to her bed and rest.
Her response was quick and immediate. When she was sitting in bed, we reviewed the exercises one more time, and just as we were about to leave, Katie stopped us. Her sister explained to us what a blessing this surgery was to Katie and her family, and she repeatedly said that we were angels sent from God. That was when Katie reached into her purse and pulled out two small glass boxes.
I opened it to find a beautiful bracelet. Katie said, "This is my gift to you, this and my prayers. May God pay you back for all you have done. However, once I left the room, my self control broke, and the tears came out like waterfalls. Once I was back in control of my feelings, I went around translating for the nurses and making sure that all the patients were not in need of anything.
And pretty soon, I was sent downstairs to help in the pre-operation waiting room. The nurses were relieved when I got there. The poor patient was so nervous, and the nurses didn't speak enough Spanish to calm her down. When the patient saw me, a smile spread across her face and across mine. Her name was Diana, and she was one of the patients that I kept an eye on from upstairs.
We sat and talked for about 20 minutes, and she told me all about her family. She told me about her two beautiful kids, and how she wanted to be healthy for them. Soon the surgeon came to talk to us, and he explained the surgery and told her it was her turn. And to my great surprise, he asked that I go into the operating room with them to help keep Diana calm and to explain what they were doing.
So I went into the operating room, and did as he asked. I explained everything that was going on to her, and she was unusually quiet. Right before she fell asleep, she started crying and told me how scared she was. I did my best to be strong for her and reminded her about her children and how she would be dancing with er daughter in no more than a year. I dislike self-promotion but I think you might find we have a lot in common on this subject.
I am Spanish and I really like the article but do not generalize. All the things you say are certainly truth, but in bigger cities in Spain this does not happen, for example in Barcelona where I am living nowadays. I am so happy you liked so much living in Extremadura and having such an amazing time there!
Hi Sandra! I agree with you. I was born in a Spanish town and the quality of life is incredible. Life is just that: being happy without too many things. Un abrazo muy grande. I really enjoyed reading this and could relate to so much!! Values we have long since forgotten in so many bigger cities. Best of luck with your new adventures Casie and thanks for sharing this. It really brightened up my day!! Hasta pronto.
Happy to read so! Of course se are focused on mimetizing americano live.
Great words! Me ha encantado y me he reido mucho. Hola Ana! Soy de un pueblo de Extremadura de habitantes. Me ha encantado tu articulo!! Me alegro de que te haya gustado esto. Un saludo! Great article — thank you! I really enjoyed reading your blog. My sister and I spent 2 weeks in the Costa Brava and then returned a year later for 6 weeks home exchange.