By Mikel Quintana
By Mikel Quintana
By Chastidy Vasconez
When I first met my host mom, I was surprised to learn that her husband has been living in the United States for over 15 years. He left about a year after their daughter was born to work in the U.S. so he could earn an income to support them on. One day, while we were sharing a cup of coffee, she recounted a dream she had shortly after her husband left. In her dream she stepped off a small wooden boat, her hand entwined with her husband’s. They arrived on a shore where the surrounding water was crystal clear with an abundance of fish swimming between their legs. She looked up and straight ahead was a bustling city with shiny towering buildings. I was hearing the story from the other end.
My own parents had immigrated to the United States in their 20s. I’ve only really known about my parent’s lives after moving to the United States. My parents don’t share much about their childhoods growing up, and before this gap year I never put too much thought about the families they left behind. A few weeks ago I had the chance to visit some of my father’s actual family members, who live about an eight hour bus ride away from Cuenca. Meeting some of my family members was strange – it was our first time meeting and they knew all about me from years of long distance phone calls with my aunt in the United States. My tía in Ecuador was incredibly welcoming as she was eager to make me feel at home. She served delicious plates of fritada de chancho with mote and yuca frita, while sharing stories of growing up with my father. It was around Día de los Difuntos in Ecuador, and we visited my great grandmother’s tomb, beautifully adorned with lit candles and colorful flowers. These were moments I never imagined I’d be apart of. Being surrounded by the culture and language in my father’s motherland has been such a special opportunity and I’ve appreciated being able to delve into my roots.
By Jennifer Frye
By Evan Robison
The beginning of college can be a stressful time for many people. After months of anticipation, you are abruptly thrown into a new environment and expected to make friends, some of whom will supposedly last you your whole life. This period of stress can last a week for some, and months for others. In my high school grade, there was one other girl going to Tufts, which was a social luxury that not all Tufts students have, however, I did not know her very well and figured that I would be mostly on my own making new friends. This was before I was accepted into the 1+4 program.
One of the largely unpraised beauties of 1+4 is the social network that you have when you return to campus. In addition to the four fellows in country with me, I had eight others who shared the experience with me virtually from their respective locations, as well as 13 more from the year before me who would be sophomores when I arrived on campus. While many of my peers scrambled around to find social groups in the first weeks, I knew that I would always have my friends from 1+4 to fall back on if I had any problems. They had all gone through the same crazy experiences that I had and would be more than happy to take time out of their days to spend with me. While many students enter college knowing people on their sports teams or through various mutual friends, I had four intimate friends who had lived and worked with me for nine months, who knew me better than many friends from home did.
This is not to say that I avoided making new friends because I already had a small network at my fingertips. Instead, I felt more confident taking my time finding new friends, thus I was not pressured to latch onto the first group of people that I met. Tufts has so many different kinds of people, and it takes time to find people that you can feel completely comfortable around. Being a 1+4 alumnus allowed me to take the first few weeks as a time of exploration and wait until I found the right group, knowing that I already had a tight group in which to confide when I needed it.