The benefit of cultural differences

It isn’t that one culture is better or worst than another- just different. Coming to Ecuador to study abroad and engage in service learning allowed me to see the similarities and differences between international living styles.

A moment in the U.S.

Walk down the street in the U.S. and what do you see? People talking on the phone? Rushing from one place to another? Someone accidentally bumps into another and continues moving forward as if the moment was merely an inconvenience. Others walk with blank expressions as they avoid eye-contact.

A moment in Ecuador

Now try walking around in Cariamanga, Ecuador. Can you even count how many strangers greet you with, “Buenos días”? See people stopping to talk to each other. Others drive with their car windows rolled down, talking to each other while they wait at a stop light. Children run around playing.

Accepting and appreciating differences

There are many pros and cons to different cultures. Some place a priority on efficiency and order, others on community and connection.

Coming to Ecuador, and seeing such a different lifestyle and, yet one that brings happiness is eye-opening. Visiting other cultures, and learning their values and perceptions is the ultimate test for analyzing your values and perceptions.

Values I have perceived in Ecuador

Personally, I have loved coming to Ecuador and seeing a heightened level of kindness, an emphasis on slowing down to enjoy the moment and a focus on calm communication.

Also, it has been truly inspiring to see people, who own less physical belongings than people in other cultures and yet give so easily.

Safety

While nowhere is perfect, I am deeply grateful to how safe I feel here in Ecuador. Everyone greats one another in a friendly way and people can be seen watching out for one another.

When spending time with the children is Chaquizhca, I learned that some have to walk up to an hour and a half alone to get to school.

While the idea seems like a recipe for disaster in the U.S., I was amazed at how possible it is in Cariamanga, Ecuador, because the community cares and watches out for the children together.

The values of different cultures

If everyone was the same, the world would be pretty boring. We wouldn’t be able to learn, grow, or progress. Coming to Ecuador, learning about their culture and engaging in deeper thought over the differences between the U.S. and Ecuador has really offered me the chance to visually see how a difference in living is beautiful, interesting, and important.

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