Day 14 – Culture + Final Reflection Day

To begin our day we were given time to reflect on how much the trip has impacted us. This means how the events and people we met changed us not just the way we are, but who we are as leaders. This not only brought the trip full circle, but it also revealed to us just how close the trip has come to being over. 🙁
Further bringing out the feels, we formed a circle and gave everybody “big love.” What that means is that everyone had a page, and each person in the cohort got 30 seconds to say what stood out to them about said person. Expanding on this idea, we ended our meeting by sharing anything we wanted: poems, speeches, and stories. I can’t speak for everyone, but these activities really revealed to me just how much we have bonded as a group. Becoming close friends in only 2 weeks.
From there, we had some free time in Riobamba where we got to find the last little trinkets we could find, and hopefully get some last minute gifts for the family.
Following that, we had the most fun of our dives into culture. We had the Renovacion Folklore Dance group teach us dances iconic to regions within Ecuador. Everyone participated, resulting in a great time as all of us did our best (but in reality simply made fools of ourselves).
But, topping even the fun of our dance was dinner. This was not just because we had the first meal of ours in 2 weeks that didn’t have rice, but we also got to do karaoke. Other than the fact that I didn’t think to do “Mr. Brightside” until after we had left the restaurant we all had an awesome time singing everything from “Crazy Train” to “Hamilton,” and even “Pina Coladas”. That was a night I wish could have lasted all night even though it probably means I would have lost my voice, instead of the slight pain I currently feel in my throat.
It being a day of reflections, it made sense to me that all of us were pushed so far out of our comfort zone by singing and dancing because it allowed me to reflect on the fact that as a group we really built something. Something powerful that I’m looking forward to seeing further developed once we return to the states. With these words as my final reflection: I feel like I could spend another week in Ecuador, but I am ready for our final day. Now that may not make perfect sense, but rereading it I feel like it shares the mixture of emotions trips as deep as these bring.
-Dylan Jacob Fichtelberg