Wrapping up my first year of graduate school, I knew I needed to do something career applicable over the summer. Since this no longer means getting an internship, I started searching for other avenues of opportunity. Specifically, I started in December applying for any and every international program with funding I could find in Europe. I applied for several programs in Germany and was briefly considering visiting my little sister in Ireland.
By March, it was becoming clear that I was not, in fact, going to make it to Europe. So I started looking into multimedia opportunities in D.C., but my heart was still somewhere on a different continent.
That’s when I saw an email from the School of International Service, my second graduate home, that I found where I’m going and what I’m doing this summer.
The Yanapuma Foundation
The email was requesting applications for the Yanapuma Foundation, an organization dedicated to working with Indigenous populations in Latin America. Specifically South America. More specifically Ecuador.
I’m headed to Ecuador!!
I got in touch with the Yanapuma Foundation, an Ecuadorian-UK non-profit based out of Quito, Ecuador. They basically asked me what I wanted out of the internship and I told them: I want to do a homestay in order to get a holistic immersion (something I appreciated and love in Peru) and that I wanted to work with indigenous populations as a journalist, collecting whatever stories they wanted me to tell.
So there you have it. I’m traveling to Ecuador on a self-arranged backpacking journalism trip.
I’ll spend five weeks living with two different indigenous communities. My goal is to interact with the people in these communities and learn about their daily lives to develop a deeper understanding of their life experiences and culture.
My hope is that I’ll be able to collect photos, videos, and stories by also doing some interviews with the aim of writing several articles complete with multimedia elements and even developing some videos upon my return to the States.
As a side note, I’m hoping to increase my Spanish while in Ecuador. It’s almost a given, but it’s still a necessary goal because I have to prove a certain level of Spanish to graduate, so I’ll add it to my list.
I’m also working on a Fulbright application for the fall, so I’m using this trip to track down possible sources of a research award in Ecuador. This means I’m going to try to find a university or professor to work with through the Fulbright Program.
I am going to put my heart in soul into my Fulbright application, and am trying to finalize which country I’m going to apply for and if I’m applying for a English Teaching Award or a Research Award. This trip should help me figure it out, or make me even more confused, at the nice lady at the American University Merit Office explained to me in my first one-on-one Fulbright prep meeting.
What I Don’t Know
So I’ve told you a little bit about what I do know about my adventure in Ecuador. Now I’ll tell you what I don’t know.
Sounds like fun!
I’m going to be in Ecuador during the raining season in the foothills of the Andes and off the Pacific coast, so I’m preparing for mild temperature and lots of rain.
I started by buying a new rain jacket and waterproofing spray along with waterproof hiking boots that I broke in by wearing them to see Avenger: Infinity War at the theater five minutes away from my house.
I also splurged and bought (weirdly expensive) children’s books in Spanish. It was one of the things I’d really wanted to do before I left, and had a perfect opportunity to find some in a used bookstore after brunch one Saturday. My only regret was that I couldn’t get more because of the non-used prices they were being sold at!
I also packed a couple of fidget spinner type toys I’d gotten as stocking stuffers for Christmas that I can give as gifts in the villages I visit. Maybe I’m just being hopeful, but after living with a family in Peru that has two small children, I’m really hoping that I’ll get to spend plenty of time with kiddos in Ecuador!
Why the Trip Almost Didn’t Happen
If you’ve known me long enough, you might come to refer to me as a ‘ditz’ or ‘dingbat’ or ‘blonde’ (all three of which my family call me on a regular basis even though I’m the only one who isn’t a literal blonde). But no story exemplifies my spacey-ness better than the story of how I lost my passport two days before I was set to travel on this life changing adventure.
Basically, I didn’t think to look for my passport until Saturday after noon right before I was set to depart. I ended up tearing through my apartment for several hours before needing to leave to attend a Year-End Gala at the National Press Club. (I’d say it was casual, but it totally wasn’t).
I’d planned on leaving the party early to return and continue to look for my passport. But like a good little extrovert, once I was at the party I was at the party until midnight.
At which point I returned home and slightly inebriated Hunter took over. This Hunter was very determined (even more so than I had been earlier because #wine) to find that passport and also remembered key information that aided in the search that pre-party stressed Hunter hadn’t recalled. Namely, that the last time I’d seen my passport – in January when I was getting my global entry ID – it had been cold and I’d been wearing gloves (I’d already remember the coat and scarf, but didn’t remember the gloves until several glasses of wine and beer later). Therefore, I ripped open the Tupperware box I keep my gloves and winter headbands in, and found my passport under a pair of llama mittens.
Why did I put my passport in the glove box? I have zero idea. And zero memory of doing it. I’m sure there was a perfectly good reason… but I don’t know what that would have been.
Moral of the story: something bad has to happen when you travel. It’s Murphy’s Law. So loosing my passport and finding it after a lot of frantic searching means that the trip can only get better!
I don’t have a set plan for this trip. I don’t even have a serious goal. I have a lot of hopes and a few dreams, but for the most part I’m going to see where this trip takes me.
I’m going to try and let the people I meet carry me in the most compelling direction and let their stories shape my articles, videos, and blog posts. I’m aware that I’m fortunate to even be given the opportunity to get a glimpse into their daily lives.
I keep telling people that worst case scenario is that I spend five weeks on a vacation practicing my Spanish and taking photos… not exactly a worst case so literally anything I create post-trip is going to be icing on an already exceptional cake.
I’m extremely excited for what the future holds and cannot wait to update you on my trip to Ecuador!
Next post: Who knows! I may not have wifi until I’m back in the States, so stay tuned. Adventure awaits.
My name is Hunter and this the blog of my worldwide adventures. The purpose of this blog is to show that you can be a traveler, not just a tourist.