I Was the Stranger

Updated: Apr 6, 2019

By Rachel

I was a stranger, I was the foreigner. That was not news to me.


Though I had always loved where I came from, from the suburban life of Riverton Utah, I never felt completely myself, never completely accepted. Being the stranger was normal, I figured it would just be the same. But as I gazed at those green mountains, forming valleys full of life and color in the hills of Quito, Ecuador, something began within me. These were far different from those that I knew.


The words were foreign. Their food full of strong new flavors. The sounds, the sights, the beliefs, far different than of what I knew. Yet, as I grasped for their words, they shared glimpses of their lives with me, sharing what little they possessed, easing me into their homes and cultures. I learned what it meant, “how the other half lives”, it’s one learning it, but living it, living among them, is when the true understanding came.

I was the stranger, yet, they shared everything with me. The moments I was in need, their knowledge and aid would see me through. Never had I ever experienced such tenderness, from complete strangers. As their words became mine, and their lives a part of me, I felt what it really meant to belong. My outward appearance was a reminder that I was from somewhere else, but what took place inside me, made me one of them. The place I had only dreamed of, became a reality.


A place where humility and kindness are the ruling traits. Where gratitude for what you have and true, pure love, is practiced every day. I was the foreigner, yet they treated me like one of their own. I was the stranger, yet now, in my heart, I am one of them. I never wanted to leave that place. My views on the world had changed. There were times where I was reminded that I wasn’t from there, but I understood more what it meant, to be the outsider but become one with the people, even if you were once the stranger.

Funded by O.C. Tanner and the Tanner Trust for Utah Universities through the generosity of the late Professor Obert C. and Mrs. Grace A. Tanner, the Center provides a focal point and physical setting for the annual Grace Adams Tanner Lecture in Human Values. 

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