We finally made it to the last day of this amazing journey, and there are many mixed emotions: the deep reflection about our privileges and growth; the excitement to go home and hugs our families and pets; the bittersweet feeling of leaving Ecuador and the friendships we made; and the nervousness of a long day of travel.

After an eventful evening, we all woke up anxious and excited to leave. We had another delicious breakfast (we lamented at the fact this was going to be our last breakfast with La Primavera’s delicious pastries and jam), and then we spent the first part of the morning writing appreciation letters, filling out evaluation surveys, and deciding on some logistics for our CAP project. Even after painting the community room, painting the soccer field, and cleaning/painting/landscaping the welcome sign area in El Molino, we had some leftover money from student donations. The students decided to split the leftover money as donations to two organizations we learned about during our trip – Love On (a non-profit that brings education to kids who otherwise don’t have the opportunity to go to school) and La Escuela Martiniano Guerrera (a night school that supports people of all ages who previously could not attend school to continue their education). We all felt that the missions of these two organizations were important to support, and they really forced us to reflect on our own privilege and the importance of education.

For the rest of the morning, we spent time reflecting on our Global Glimpse journey these past 14 days. We were supposed to go to Parque Ecológico for our reflections, but just as so many things have changed on this trip, we were met with a downpour of rain and instead met in our good ol’ nightly meeting room. We shared some of our personal highlights from our CAP project, and then the students each made a poster of the five most significant parts of their GG journey, what they learned about themself as a leader, and who the most influential person they met was. Students shared their journeys in small groups, and found similarities in their journeys. Additionally, we did a gallery walk about things we’d like to “start,” “continue,” and “stop” doing as a result of what we’ve learned on this trip. We also discussed the importance of our journeys continuing even after leaving Ecuador, and that our learning journey continues even as we come back to our own communities in the US.

Finally, we wrote out Big Loves to each other (and let me tell you, 30 seconds is NOT enough time to write out your appreciation for each person) and shared out Big Loves to the entire group. The students shouted out the group’s care toward each other, ability to work together and put the needs of the whole group before their own, willingness and openness to difficult conversations, and flexibility and positivity despite changes. Us Global Glimpse Leaders and Program Coordinators were so incredibly proud of the growth and resilience our group had. Our final unity clap together was the word “Riobamba,” a place that has helped us all grow as individuals and holds a special place in our hearts.

We had our final meal at La Primavera, finished packing our things, and said goodbye to La Primavera’s staff, Javier, and Nacho (we already miss you guys!). We had a long 4.5 hour bus ride to Quito, and then we had dinner at the airport while waiting for our gate to open. At 9pm, we made our way to the gate and said TTFN to Paco, who waited to make sure we were safely on our flight. While waiting to board, students bought more souvenirs and found snacks to eat/bring back home. Finally past midnight, we boarded our flight and arrived safely in Houston at 6am. We went through customs, security, and made it just in time to say goodbye to Johanna (who was leaving earlier than the rest of us). After hugs and tears, we grabbed breakfast and boarded our flight to SF. After a smooth flight and 23 hours of traveling, we finally arrived back in the Bay at 11:30am and said our “see ya laters” as families excitedly picked up their students.

While our Ecuador trip is coming to a close, our learning journey and the friendships we made will continue. Huge, ginormous, incredible Big Love to all of the US and Ecuador GG staff for being the best team to work with; to Paco and Nacho for pouring so much of themselves to lead us on this learning journey in Riobamba; and to our students for being a compassionate, committed, and courageous group (Javier’s favorite, shhhh). See you all on Instagram and our group chat! <3