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Ecuador

It’s going to be fun to go home with a new pair of eyes. At least that’s what I thought last May.

by Amanda Lodge

Summer 2000

After spending an incredible semester in Ecuador, I was hopeful and refreshed with an increased maturity and love for a life that I picked up along the way. I had triumphed over adjustments, language, and cultural barriers and gained a new family, a new home, and a greater respect for a slower lifestyle.

The study abroad brochure lived up to its promises. In my month long stay in the rainforest, I saw more amazing plants, beautiful insects, enormous trees and vines, monkeys, snakes, birds, butterflies, and spiders than I ever thought possible. My eyes were filled with an awe of nature that I had never experienced in our land of managed parks and conquered wildlife.

So with all of my questions, answers, experiences, hopes, and dreams, I came home. I hoped to see, with my new pair of eyes, our world in a new light. I guess for a while I did. For awhile, I fully lost the apathy that festers in our society. But after almost a year of being home, some of my eyesight has faded. I sometimes failed to see the beauty of life and the everyday mediocrity. I sometimes fail to see the light I found in a country living what our country claims to hold so dear.

But, there is one experience that the brochure could not anticipate. While I was there, the citizens of Ecuador decided they had enough of their president and wanted him out.

A strike was planned, and one day in February the entire country stopped working. In the cities, no cars, nor busses, nor taxis, nor trolleys filled the streets -- only people walking side-by-side in a united front. There was no violence this day, only a peaceful demonstration.

The strike continued into the next day. The tension mounted and a 14-year-old child was killed by a tear gas canister thrown by military forces "protecting" the president. This is what hit the news in the United States –– not the millions of people peacefully walking in the streets singing songs and standing up for what they believe in.

They gained what they fought for and the president was voted out by congress. That night, the streets were filled with cars, music, flags, cheering, and grand celebrations. This also never made the news in the grand ol’ US of A. How is it that a country born on democracy failed to acknowledge a most wonderful, powerful example of what democracy should be? Have we gotten so caught up in our power status that we have forgotten how we got here or how hard we had to fight?

What was the media so afraid of that they did not show the peacefulness of the demonstrations? Why is violence the only thing that is news breaking?




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