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.